November 22, 2014
Friday night was bittersweet for Anberlin fans in Charlotte, where the Florida-based rock band played to a packed crowd at The Fillmore for one last time. Anberlin kicked off the American leg of The Final Tour at the beginning of the October, and their final performance will be November 26 in Orlando, Florida–46 miles from their hometown of Winter Haven. The tour, which has taken them across the world, has acted as their platform to give fans a sense of closure.
The time was 9:07 PM when Anberlin took the stage to the ringing sound of cheers and applause from their audience. They opened their set with “Never Take Friendship Personal” from their 2005 album of the same name. Every gap in the crowd quickly filled as the final attendees funneled into the mix and the energy in the room multiplied, both on and off stage. The fans were singing along passionately from the very start of the show, setting the mood for a fantastic farewell.
They were four songs in before lead singer Stephen Christian finally took a minute to address the Charlotte crowd, “Seven albums! This song is dedicated to everyone that was here from the start,” before the band went into “Ready Fuels” off of their 2003 debut album, Blueprints for the Black Market. Anberlin quickly transitioned from song to song, and by 9:30, nearly half of the setlist had been played. The setlist included songs from each of their albums except for their newest release Lowborn which dropped this past July.
Stephen Christian’s vocals were flawless throughout the set, putting pure emotion into every lyric he sang. Guitarists Joseph Milligan & Christian McAlhaney and bassist Deon Rexroat showed off their technical virtuosity in the numerous instrumental breaks and solos. Nate Young’s drumming was fast and energetic. The band put on the performance of a lifetime. While there was a sense of finality looming in the venue, the crowd matched the band’s energy bit for bit, dancing and singing along to every single song without pause, aching to make the night last as long as possible.
The set slowed down with Christian proclaiming “I can’t believe it’s been 12 years, singing along, playing shows. Our favorite part of the show is when you guys sing along, so please don’t stop now,” and the energetic mood changed as the band played “(The Symphony of) Blasé.” The crowd honored his request and became the backing choir. The sing-a-long continued during the next song, with the fans singing as loud as they could. Christian let the audience take it away and sing entire verses of the song “The Unwinding Cable Car.”
The energy picked right back up with “A Day Late,”with the show’s first and only crowd surfer making a brief appearance. The set came to a close after the group thanked fans for “dancing along, singing along, and losing your voices with us for 12 years.” Anberlin finished the evening with“Feel Good Drag,” a fan favorite that appeared on Never Take Friendship Personal and was re-recorded for their 2008 album New Surrender.
The Fillmore filled with shouts of “one more song!” for minutes before the band was back onstage and fittingly chose to end the night with an encore performance of “(*Fin),” the closing track on Cities. Christian paid tribute to Anberlin’s last album Lowborn by making the hand gesture featured on the album cover, as well as cleverly adding in the lyrics to “Harbinger,” singing the line “We’ll live forever, forever, forever” as “(*Fin)” slowly faded out and their final goodbye to Charlotte was set in stone. But after the amazing performance they put on there is no doubt that Anberlin and their music will live on long after The Final Tour is over.