Published Jan 01, 2006A first appearance in Toronto for the Gathering, Agalloch and Novembers Doom, this much anticipated show was delayed even longer thanks to the Gathering's late arrival and an extra two-hour wait before fans were allowed inside. The late start forced a shortening of all three opening sets, with In Vein playing right off to the people trickling in. Novembers Doom soon took over and were a little muddy at first, with one guitarist quickly breaking a string, but they put on a tight, crushing performance that overflowed the small stage with energy. Both guitarists were noticeably pumped, singing along un-mic-ed to every song, and as a unit, the band revved the audience into a higher gear. The switchovers were mercifully quick (thanks to equipment sharing) and Agalloch took the stage in a remarkably short time. Beginning their set instrumentally (with lead vocalist/guitarist John Haughm beating a floor tom), the band began to weave the earthy atmosphere that pervades their recordings. After a too-short taste of The Mantle, Pale Folklore, and something off the new Grey EP, Agalloch collapsed into beautiful chaos with everyone but the drummer emoting all over the floor and guitars decaying in a wash of effects. Before long the Gathering came onstage, apologised briefly for "technical shite" and began to cast their hypnotic spell. While the whole band performed as a tight whole, comfortable with their songs and each other, vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen was easily the star of the show, and her incredible voice was even more captivating in person. She rocked out a little on the guitar for a couple of songs but it was clearly her work at the mic that had the audience enthralled a devotion encouraged by her Björk-like abandonment in the music. Despite the general hypnosis, after the initial delay and the shortness of each opening set, the Gathering's performance began to drag a little. Cries for early material were left unanswered and the self-indulgent working of one chord for several minutes on end tested the patience. In the end, Novembers Doom and Agalloch stole the night's thunder but van Giersbergen's magical voice soared in conquest.