Tampa-area alternative rockers Anberlin played to a packed Beacham Theatre last Sun., Feb. 17. The show was the first date of the band's five-week headlining tour in support of their sixth and latest studio album, Vital, and it served as a hometown kick-off for Anberlin, which originally formed in 2002 by musicians from both Tampa and Orlando locales. That hometown energy served as the catalyst for one of the best performances I have seen from this band in all the years I've followed them.
Shortly into the opening song “The Resistance,” it became clear that Anberlin was coming on strong with the energy of a band that had recently released one of the best albums of their 11-year career, and their playing was some of the tightest and most consistent I have seen, with the newer material sounding just as well-rehearsed as the old, and frontman Stephen Christian’s wide-ranging vocals as spot-on as ever. The other members of the quintet were just as entertaining, with guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney playing off one another expertly, bassist Deon Rexroat singing along boisterously, and drummer Nathan Young pounding his driving rhythms with unparalleled exuberance.
The setlist was a pleasing mixture of songs spanning most of Anberlin's existence, a task that can prove difficult for a band with a half-dozden albums and expectant fans. Some stand-out moments included the rarely-played “I’d Like To Die,” a mellow and atmospheric b-side from their previous album, and the encore, which consisted of the slow-building epic “(*Fin),” complete with choir-like backing vocals.
At a career point that finds many bands faltering, rehashing previous successes, or phoning-in live performances, Anberlin seems rejuvenated by their new material, and their fans seemed to dig it too, as the whole room sang along to every song. Their performance on Sunday night (and their new album) proves the fivesome has tapped into what works for them, perfected it, and will hopefully continue to push it forward and stay relevant.
We Owe This To Ourselves
Never Take Friendship Personal
I’d Like To Die
Feel Good Drag