Upon the time of discovering that this show was happening, we here at Brum Live knew that this night was not to be missed. We knew that we would have to journey up to Manchester to make sure we were present for Cellar Darling’s first headline show in England. And what a show it was!

The fans trickled in from the streets of Manchester, a wave of band t-shirts and gothic attire filling the room. In the hour between doors and the start of the show, strangers became friends in anticipation for what was assuredly going to be a night of awesome music.

After catching the end of their sound check, we knew that Diamond Black had solidified themselves as the perfect opener for this tour. Taking to the stage for their second ever show, accompanied by an electronic symphony, they had the crowd in the palms of their hands from the first track: the soon-to-be-released “Ghost in the Glass”.  Guitarist and founder of the band Ben Christo (The Sisters of Mercy)  along with bassist Adam Lightspeed immediately sprung into action, bounding around the stage. Drummer Jan-Vincent Velazco delivered every beat with precision and technical prowess. They threw an extremely well-received Nine Inch Nails song into the set, getting the crowd well and truly warmed up for the headline act.

Vocalist J.I Turunen’s melancholic voice soared above the heavy accompaniment for their last track — echoing the sentiment of the key word and title of the track: “Sorrow”, clearly the band’s most known song by the crowd — especially being their debut single.

Diamond Black delivered the perfect combination of hard hitting riffage, uplifting synth strings and piano and Turunen’s musical reveries in a short but sweet set. We look forward to seeing them headlining their own shows in the future!

When Cellar Darling hit the stage, the atmosphere of the room changed. Rebellion was filled with the sound of Merlin’s drums as he opened the show with the signature beat that marks the beginning of their single track: “Black Moon”. The crowd was on board immediately, singing every word back to the band, only adding to the enjoyment of Cellar Darling themselves.

Manchester’s involvement grew larger when Cellar Darling began the track that they described as a “mantra” and encouraged as much participation as possible for “Avalanche”.  Anna demonstrated the large range of her technical vocal ability: from soft whispery vocals and yodeling (Yes, yodeling!) to powerful high belts for the chorus hook.

The air was electric and the audience was buzzing. I really believe that Cellar Darling felt the same way — reflected by their performance and by Anna’s short speech: “You know those days when it feels like nothing is right, like my mic stand isn’t in the right place and I have to keep messing with it. We’ve come out here and I’ve realised that none of that matters”.

When they played “Six Days”, seemingly about a man surviving the last days of existence, Anna began to sing this story almost monotonously (deliberately of course) over the atmospheric piano before Ivo and Merlin jumped in with some proggy goodness. This track has a distinct sci-fi/fantasy/post-apocalyptic feel to it, I would highly recommend giving it a listen. The crowd knew exactly what to do for this set, waving their arms left and right for Anna’s flute solo. So much so that Anna lost her composure, got the giggles and had to stop for a moment. “We’re gonna have to try that again”, she exclaimed with a grin before returning to the beginning of the solo. She, of course, received a huge and well-deserved cheer after making it to the end of the flute section of the song.

After an explosive set and chants of “CELLAR”, they returned to the stage for their encore and what better song to play on a UK tour than Queen’s “The Prophet’s Song”. “When we told our families and friends that we were planning on playing a Queen cover they asked if we were sure”, Anna explained “But we asked ourselves what Freddie would do and we knew that he wouldn’t give a f**k what anybody else thought and would follow his heart”. They truly made it their own and did justice to its creator. An especially awesome moment was watching Anna sing acapella armed with nothing but a delay or loop pedal.

Their final song of the night, which happened to be the first song they released as Cellar Darling back in 2016: “Challenge” unified the crowd, Anna, Ivo and Merlin and everyone in that room were truly together. As the night drew a close, smiles covered the faces of everybody present. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gig quite like it, it was like magic.

Seeing Anna, Ivo and Merlin on stage as Cellar Darling has only strengthened my opinion that they are exactly where they are meant to be, making the music they were designed to make. As enjoyable as was to see them perform that close up, I can’t imagine they’ll be in venues of that size for much longer with their quickly growing popularity among folk metal and prog metal fans alike.

Cellar Darling are:

  • Anna Murphy — Vocals, Hurdy Gurdy and Flute.
  • Ivo Henzi — Guitar
  • Merlin Sutter — Drums





Reviewer: Jordan Quinn

Photographer: Chris Bowley

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