It felt like a cathartic goodbye to both the band members for at least another year and to the much loved venue, sadly, forever.
A truly unique and emotional night was in store for all attendees of The Citadel in St Helens on June 14th 2019. This gig was special for a number of reasons. Not only was this gig likely going to be the only gig of 2019 where adoring fans got a chance to hear the much loved music of both Panic Room and Luna Rossa performed live at one memorable show, but it was also a very emotional farewell to a much loved music venue that was set to close its doors nearly two weeks later. The Citadel in St Helens has provided a home for the members of Panic Room and Luna Rossa over the years. Anne-Marie Helder herself said during the gig that when the band members heard that the venue was due to shut its doors that the musicians agreed to put on one final show to send the venue off and say goodbye to not only The Citadel, but to the fans and the memories that had been created within those walls over the many years.
Marc Atkinson stepped out to perform music as an opener to the Fireflies performance. Songs from Marc’s growing catalogue of albums and projects, Gabriel, Riversea and a brand new song from Moon Halo were performed. Moon Halo, a new band, will likely pique the interest of all Panic Room and Luna Rossa fans alike. The band is set to feature Marc alongside Iain Jennings from Mostly Autumn and it will include a guest appearance from Anne Marie Helder on vocals.
Out of all of the songs Marc performed in his set, Blasphemy from the latest Riversea album stood out as a really powerful statement; it remains a deep, pensive and reflective song which carries an incredible weight that you could feel in the room and for anyone who might have missed this, it was arguably worth the price of admission by itself.
What followed was an evening that will be truly memorable to those in attendance; a “one-off” gig showcasing the highlights of two much loved modern bands under the umbrella of Fireflies – a cool nod to the Panic Room song Firefly. A large majority of the set performed was (as Anne Marie Helder puts it) semi-acoustic. The audience appeared so in tune with the music played that at times it was as if they were a physical manifestation of the tracks performed; you could hear a pin drop during songs like Sunshine and yet there was not a person standing still during the ever loved I Am A Cat.
At one point Jonathan Edwards began to play the introduction to No Quarter by Led Zeppelin, this was met with ravenous and joyous acknowledgement from the audience, who, with hopeful recognition thought that they were about to be treated to the very rare experience of a Fireflies cover of a Led Zeppelin classic. Jonathan, however had other ideas and with a big grin he then took the Zeppelin introduction and morphed it into the Luna Rossa track Disappointment with a huge wink and infectious smile upon his face; this was a band who were having fun. The passionate performance was far from a disappointment. The positive energy from the humorous introduction radiated from the stage and was met with responsive laughter from the fans; a truly enjoyable, cheeky and memorable way to approach the song from Secrets & Lies.
The fact that this show was a combination of two bands was a huge selling point enough. With the closure of The Citadel, a much loved venue, this was likely the only live performance of both Panic Room and Luna Rossa music by the respective Fireflies members in 2019. Overall, those in attendance experienced a show that any fan of these artists would have flocked to see (and would have been extremely envious of missing).
Fireflies comprised Jonathan Edwards & Anne Marie Helder, who were joined on stage by Gavin John Griffiths of Panic Room and Sarah Dean of Luna Rossa. Andrew ‘Wal’ Coughlan of Gary Numan, Cerys Matthews and Shakin’ Stevens fame (to name but a few) joined the musicians, playing both electric and double bass.
The band concluded the evening with an encore of the title track from the second Panic Room album, Satellite which is arguably one of – if not – the best song ever conceived by Panic Room. It was Fireflies’ way of leaving on a high note as the song echoed around the walls with incredible emotion, recognition and feeling. Yet, it felt like a cathartic goodbye to both the band members for at least another year and to the much loved venue, sadly, forever. This was a performance that Fireflies and the fans will not be forgetting for a long time to come.
Fireflies: A Celebration of Music from Panic Room & Luna Rossa performed by: Anne Marie Helder, Jonathan Edwards, Gavin John Griffiths, Sarah Dean, Andrew ‘Wal’ Coughlan
Support Performance: Marc Atkinson
Set List: Start The Sound / Fight or Flight / Fly Away / 5th Amendment / Tiny Demons / Special One / The Book Of Love / Red Moon / Bitches Crystal / Chameleon / Breathe / The Dark Room / I Am A Cat / Disappointment / Mad About You / Sunshine / Promises / Secrets And Lies / Skin / This Is Not / Invisible
Encore: Muse / Satellite
PHOTOS: Chris Walkden