GIG REVIEW: An Evening With CELLAR DARLING Live at The Garrison, Toronto
When one typically thinks of female-fronted heavy music, it is often the powerful operatic pipes of symphonic metal. However, as folk metal grows in popularity worldwide, one of the most talked about and revered ladies of the scene is ex-Eluveitie singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Murphy. Having witnessed her perform live in Toronto a few years ago with Eluveitie, seeing her hit the stage with Cellar Darling was a great opportunity to get the full effect of what she is capable of, as there are fewer members to compete with.
Before I get into Cellar Darling’s set, I want to acknowledge the beauty of the entire bill and the general atmosphere of the night. I’ve been to some really great shows at The Garrison, and while it has had some sound issues in the past, that night, everything came through rather well, and my only complaint is still the restrooms.
This was one of those shows where every band had a different style and presence than the rest. Philadelphia’s Vedic was your standard heavy band with elements of thrash, very energetic and a good crowd-warmer. The two middle bands were local, which is unusual, but a pleasant surprise. Iomair is a new creation by drummer and clean vocalist Dylan Gowan, who successfully brought his vision to life along with a lineup of talent, including the fantastic addition of electric violin and the killer harsh vocals of Sam Astaroth from Toronto extreme metal up-and-comers, Astaroth Incarnate. Iomair surprised me with how dynamic they could be, fusing progressive elements with funk, folk, and death metal. Look out for their debut album September 21st.
The second hometown opener was a band called Protokult, which was actually the most established act there, having put out their first material in 2010 with their original lineup. Now performing with an element of opera (and various recorder solos) via Ekaterina, this outfit brings an entertaining and eclectic component to any party. I say party because that’s what The Garrison became as two lovely ladies (one of which is a good friend of mine) graced the stage with drinking horns and proceeded to feed beer to the parched souls at the front of the crowd.
Finally, Cellar Darling. This was one of very few shows in North America, so I consider myself lucky to have attended. With only one album under their belt, I wasn’t sure what the setlist would be like. They performed the entirety of 2017’s ‘This Is The Sound’, but not in order, starting with “Black Moon”. Also making an appearance was their cover of Queen’s “The Prophet Song”, which went over quite well with fans, and gave way nicely to the closing track, “Challenge”. Along with a tight performance from guitarist Ivo Henzi and drummer Merlin Sutter, they also brought in a live session bassist, which added a heavier element to the music. Frontwoman Anna Murphy not only put on a flawless and captivating show, but was a pleasure to watch as she looked so happy to be there, and interacted with the audience with a constant smile on her face.
What with all of the various styles and sounds that took the stage of The Garrison in one single night, combined with drinking horns and a great community of local underground talent, it was easy not to notice how long the show actually was. Cellar Darling was a delight to behold in the flesh, and was supported by dynamic bands who offered something unique. As Anna Murphy said, “I listen to music, not genres.” If you happen to be in the UK in March, I strongly suggest seeing Cellar Darling for yourself, and I cannot wait for their approaching second album.
Also check out our photo gallery of the show here!