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Monday, 29 September 2014

The View From The Back Of The Room: Anathema

Anathema Thekla, Bristol

Gig season is in full swing and here was another opportunity to see pure class in Bristol. On to Thekla and into it's hull (yes non local folks it's a boat!) where the support band were already in full swing, much of the lateness was my fault (I will make sure to check all sport fixtures in future!) Still with drink in hand a move towards the front was called for.

Mother's Cake

Austrian rocker's Mother's Cake were in full swing there brand of funk-laden progressive rock was already tripping the huddled masses with their psychedelic preferences. The band did have a sound similar to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers playing Mars Volta songs, yes that is as bad or good as it sounds whatever your preference. Mother's Cake are a good band however they did seem a little out of place as the openers for Anathema, maybe on a rockier more stoner rock bill they would be better suited but for all their talent they did just seem like they had turned up at the wrong gig. 6/10


Soon it was time for the main event and the Liverpool six-piece came on to the stage and The Lost Song, Part 1 burst into life with the orchestral keys, mechanical drumming, Vince Cavanagh's amazing vocals all working together to build the song up to it's magnificent crescendo before coming crashing down into The Lost Song, Part 2 which showcases Lee Douglas's ethereal and mesmerizing vocals, so two songs in and the bar was set, the opening salvo of their latest album was going to be the first two shots across the bows that would lead into a magical night. The packed (and incredibly warm) crowd took a collective breath as the first two tracks ended, before the clean acoustic playing of Danny Cavanagh signalled Untouchable, Part 1 a cheer went up from the crowd as Vincent again drew the crowd into his love lost world backed by some sumptuous musicianship. With the three Cavanagh brothers fielding the guitars, Vincent on rhythm, the luxuriously maned Jamie on bass and the excitable Danny on lead guitars, keyboards and piano, they are aided by Daniel Cardoso on drums and the multi talented John Douglas on keys, drums and percussion, his wife Lee provided the final part of the vocal harmonies with Vincent and Danny. Again they hit the crowd straight in the heart with Untouchable Part 2 which is a truly affecting track and all but polished off the over heating, over emotional crowd only four songs in. The piano-led orchestral song is a showstopper that will bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened Slayer fan. Again a break, a sniff of tears and into the electronic almost Floydian pulse of Thin Air, the band give a masterclass in light and shade as they once again follow the upbeat with the emotionally shattering. This time it was the piano-centric ambient Ariel which holds particular emotional significance to me and I will admit I found it hard to listen, which is a testament to both Anathema's songwriting and live delivery, their music is all encompassing drawing you in and not releasing you until the final notes have rung out. Ariel was the first of three songs from Distant Satellites with the dark electronica of The Lost Song, Part 3 following Ariel and the finale of three coming with the bands self titled track Anathema. The final part of the main set brought the mood into the lower reaches with The Beginning Of The End being a plaintive piano led piece that once again builds into a mighty guitar solo. The orchestral influence of Universal washes over you as the piano-led final section dives straight into the EDM of Closer which features vocoadered vocals and was a bit of a change of pace and sound to finish the main set. More electonica with Distant Satellites to start the encore off, into the longing of A Natural Disaster before the finale of the classic Fragile Dreams. Anathema are a band that ware you out, the sheer majesty of their music leaves you physically and emotionally drained as you have been plunged into despair and raised to near euphoria for the entire set. My one complaint would be certain members of the audience who were (in my opinion) quite rude during the quieter more reflective parts still people can't be helped and Anathema just played ignoring anything that could interfere with them casting their musical magic. A frankly amazing show from a band that are something a bit special, see them on tour as soon as possible! Majestic! 10/10     


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