I suppose it's better than flaming out and struggling to make things right at the end of your tenure as a band. AC\DC and The Rolling Stones have been performing for 50+ years and still sell out major venues, while iconic bands like Nirvana, The Clash and The Beatles barely made it 10 years together (if not less). I told myself (at the time) that I should be grateful for the 12 great years I got from Anberlin, and the amazing discs they released. For my money, "Never Take Friendship Personal" will always be one of my all-time favorites, and it's follow-up "Cities" was just as incredible. But enough about the past and the retrospect. Let's talk about what happened on what I must call "Anberlin Weekend".
Immediately when I saw that Columbus was on the list of cities that got a final taste of Anberlin, I texted my dear friend Tessa (in Alabama) and told her she was coming to that show if she could get the time off. Except for Atlanta, we were practically the closest show to her and I insisted on getting her a ticket to get her to come. We eventually coaxed her sister Janna (also a close friend) to come, and then it was time to wait. The months passed and suddenly it was November. I took a few vacation days to cover their time up here and spent Saturday and Sunday going over the seven albums that had shaped my life over the past twelve years. And suddenly.... they were here.
I had been to Alabama a few years prior to this to see them and Janna had came up here on part of a Thanksgiving road trip she was on, but it was different to have both of them. We went to World of Beer to hang out with Joel on Sunday, and decided to go to Blacklick and out for lunch on Saturday before meeting up with Kelly before the show. Note her pre-show excitement...
We showed up early to get a good spot in line, and it ended up being a very good decision when we looked at what was behind us just before being entered. The people in front of us in the line ended up being really cool people, and I chatted with them a little inside the show as well. As for the Newport, it was as wonderful as ever, and for this particular show it was Anberlin only. That meant a longer set-list, and in looking at previous shows we had a fairly good idea what songs we were going to hear. And after another hour-plus of waiting and being squished into the pit area, it was time.
I had already seen Anberlin at the Newport a few years back, and they were solid that night as well. Interestingly, it was 2 years and 1 day prior to the date of the final show (11/10/2014). But this time, for one final time, I got 24 (!!!) songs. They started with Never Take Friendship Personal and kicked on to We Owe This To Ourselves and Paperthin Hymn. It was kicking hard and we got jolted around the crowd, being only 5 rows back at the start of the show. From there they played Self-Starter, Readyfuels (the only "Blueprints" era song), We Are Destroyer (the only from "Lowborn"), Someone Anyone, and Other Side. They mellowed down with Symphony of Blasé, Take Me As You Found Me, Unwinding Cable Car, and Inevitable. Then they announced they were going to play a song that they rarely played, but that they were going to play because it was a longer set. I thought it might be Dance Dance, but it ended up being The Haunting, from their b-side disc "Lost Songs". It was a song that I initially would skip over when listening to them, but after hearing it live I found a new love for it. Christian announced that it was the last time they'd be playing it live.
After that, they rocked out Impossible, Breaking and A Day Late. I was actually surprised at how many songs from NTFP they ended up playing, but I wasn't complaining. Up next was A Whisper and A Clamor and Dismantle.Repair, which when I saw them in 2012 was the first encore song that Stephen was to perform alone with his keyboard. The keyboard ended up not playing, so he walked out into the crowd and sang a cappella. Well, this time it was full instrumentation and it was equally solid. They finished off with The Resistance, Godspeed (with Debut intro) and The Feel Good Drag. We knew from the previous set-lists that the final song would probably be (*Fin), but as they came out for the encore, the opening music was actually the opening 30 seconds of Harbinger. But after those 30 seconds passed, it was right into (*Fin), which was then subsequently stuck in my head non-stop for several days. It was beautiful and amazing, and after the "Patron Saints" part, they started singing the final line of Harbinger, "We'll live forever, forever, forever".
Needless to say, it was a PHENOMENAL show. Well worth the hype and the years of memories leading up to it. And even though I was accidentally punched in the face (knocking my glasses off) and bashed around by the pit that formed in my immediate standing area, I have to say that it was one of the greatest shows I have attended. As for Tuesday, the four of us went to Jolly Pirate for breakfast and spent the day at Easton, visiting many stores before finishing the day with dinner at BD's and Star Trek back at my house. Wednesday was the day of departure for the girls, so we went and got coffee in the Short North and visited a fair trade store before sending them on their way. I was sad to see them go, but my life was greatly enriched by their visit. The unfortunate thing is that there simply cannot be a bigger occasion to lure them back to Ohio with! Hahaha...
From left - Tessa, myself, Janna.