Anathema at London’s Koko, 26/09/2014

It’s a rapid return to the capital for Liverpudlian progressive rockers Anathema after their acoustic appearance at the Islington Assembly Hall back in May but on 26th September they were back to play London’s Koko. With a full band show coming on the back of the brilliant new album Distant Satellites they played a great two hour set to a sold out crowd. Anathema are a band who’s appeal seems to have spread massively in recent years, and to a wide range of fans. From hardcore metalheads to prog fans and more than a few hipster types, it shows just how good a band Anathema are to have such a widespread fan base.

Playing the new album in full besides Dusk (Dark Is Descending), they nailed it from the off, beginning with The Lost Song parts 1 and 2, with Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas both being rapturously brilliant, the former’s passion clear from his energetic performance, and Lee’s soft voice providing a perfect counterpoint, part 2 being one of the years most beautiful songs her singing on that was beautiful. They’re a great live band and often brought more energy to the stage than they do on the album, with the David Gilmore-esque extended guitar solo from Danny Cavanagh at the end of Anathema being staggeringly good while the extra intensity of the experimental You’re Not Alone was great – Danny even quipping, “this was the one everyone hated, it’s not as shit as you thought is it?” He’s a fantastic musician, alternating between guitar, keyboards and vocals, while rousing the crowd into participating throughout, clearly loving every minute.

The beautiful Distant Satellites and Take Shelter provided a more beautiful atmospheric experience, with their softer nature, while the more energetic Untouchable 1 and 2 from Weather Systems are among the best songs from the whole Anathema catalogue and go down so well with the crowd, while Vincent’s pure passion on Thin Air was infectious throughout the audience. The haunting Closer and the magical melancholic ballad A Natural Disaster sung angelically by Lee were the few older songs in a set drawing mostly from material from this decade.

The highlight of the set was the spectacular run of three songs, starting with The Storm Beneath the Calm, a song that builds up beautifully enough on the album, but on the night the electric energy emanating from the musicians filled the whole venue, with the musically and lyrically intense climax being even more stirring than the recoding, and that energy filtered through into The Beginning and the End and the absolutely stunning Universal. Ending with an encore of the rocker Fragile Dreams the crowd really took to it with jumping and singing, and it was a great way of closing a fantastic two hours of music. It’s the best performance I’ve seen Anathema give and they’re arguably the UK’s finest rock band at the moment – every one should go and see them.

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