17 February 2011
The Scala was jam packed for Anathema’s first ever sold out London show.Whilst the size of the crowd showed great anticipation, Anathema themselves seemed well up for the occasion, purposefully taking to the stage encouraging the crowd to be ever louder.
It feels, finally, the stars are aligning for Anathema. Vincent admits that this is the band’s best ever UK tour, plaudits have been thick and fast for the long awaited We’re Here Because We’re Here and there’s a slot at this summer’s High Voltage Festival to look forward to.
The band’s transition from their death/doom beginning to atmospheric progressive rock seemingly managed not to alienate much of their original fan base, but convincing newcomers has always seemed more difficult with the progressive crowd perhaps casting a suspicious eye at what they perceived to be a heavy-metal band. Having their latest album crowned Prog Album Of The Year by Classic Rock Magazine has done them no harm and it’s evident that this is a far more mixed crowd than previous Anathema shows in the capital.
It is a crowd who appear to have taken We’re Here Because We’re Here to their hearts and are treated to an airing of the whole disc to start the set. Whilst this may seem a bold move, there are no concerns when it’s in Anathema’s hands. They rightly believe this is some of their best ever work, though tantalisingly Vincent tells us the new material will be even better.The frontman completely absorbed himself in each song and while songs such as Everything uplift the crowd, the enormous smile across his face showed it had the same effect on him.
Having previously provided guest vocals, Lee Douglas is now a fully fledged member of Anathema and her presence was felt early as she shadowed Vincent’s vocal on Summernight Horizon. Meanwhile whilst the other Cavanagh brothers Daniel & Jamie, John Douglas and Les Smith may be dwelling in the dark edges of the stage, there contributions are not unnoticed.
Anathema’s latest album works brilliant played as a whole and peaked with a stunning Universal.For the second half of the set it was time for some “old stuff”. Apparently the usual setlist had gone out the window with the band deciding to take some detours from their usual playlist. As Deep, Pitiless and then Forgotten Hopes were played in succession, for a moment you started to consider whether they’d decided to now play the Judgement album in full. One Last Goodbye ended the visit to that album however. Empty picked up the pace, before we absorbed the lush tones of Release and Flying.
Daniel Cavanagh was left alone and announced, “I was gonna do a song called Are You There?, but for some reason I feel like doing Wish You Were Here.” Having promised to sing along, we were treated to an excellent rendition of the Pink Floyd classic. Amusingly, on returning to the stage Vincent noted Anathema had been stuck with “the next Pink Floyd tag” for years and sarcastically joked “that’ll help!”
The vocoded vocal of Closer took us into the home straight, with Lee Douglas excelling during A Natural Disaster. Unsurprisingly it was left to Fragile Dreams to finish a memorable set wih Vincent noting he’d have happily continued if it wasn’t for the curfew.
Thin Air / Summernight Horizon / Dreaming Light / Everything / Angels Walk Among Us / Presence / A Simple Mistake / Get Off, Get Out / Universal / Hindsight / Deep / Pitiless / Forgotten Hopes / One Last Goodbye / Empty / Release / Flying / Wish You Were Here / Closer / A Natural Disaster / Fragile Dreams