There could be no more fitting way for Anathema to celebrate a 25 year career: 3 sets of songs from across all of their 10 albums.
No support slots, just 3 hours of Anathema along with former bassist/songwriter Duncan Patterson and original singer Darren White.
As a fan since 1995’s ‘Pentecost III’ all the way up to the recent releases, this was a must gig for me.
You could sense a certain air of excitement and anticipation from the crowd when walking towards the stage.
I couldn’t help but think minutes before the first set began ‘Is this going to be one of those great gigs to remember in years to come?’
And to have this 10 day, one-off tour finish in Dublin, would it be something special?
Set 1 (1999-2014) Untouchable Soundscapes
It was time to bring back the classic doom era of Anathema.
The current line up takes the stage for the first set. They start off with the strongest song off the latest album, the emotive piano driven ‘Anathema’.
A cool build-up of atmosphere is slowly charged by the soaring vocals of Vinnie Cavanagh. Danny greatly executes that amazing solo which pierces the speakers and starts to give you goose bumps.
A great cheer bellows out from the crowd, acknowledging that we are off to a good start. The sound engineer did a top notch job, everything is crisp and clear, especially the drums behind that thick glass cage.
Vinnie explains to the crowd that this tour will play something from all the albums, starting in reverse chronological order from the latest post-rock ‘Distant Satellites’ album all the way back to the doomy debut ‘Serenades’. “…with the older songs, the heavier we get.”
A few guttural screams can be heard to which Vinnie smiles and responds jokingly.
Lee Douglas joins the stage and gets the crowd participation off to a great start with us singing back the end of ‘Untouchables Part 2’. Her best moment was her passionate efforts on ‘A Natural Disaster’, a truly powerful, commanding performance.
A lot of the newer stuff felt heavier in a live setting, ‘Closer’ being one of them, that electronic drone and vocoder vocal line is just hypnotic while the sublime ending of ‘A Simple Mistake’ is a certain head banger.
The first set ends on the agonizingly beautiful ‘One last goodbye’ and Vinnie wows the crowd with one of his best vocal performances of the night. Another fantastic goose bumps moment.
It’s moments like this you wonder how Anathema hasn’t been embraced by the mainstream world; it is just frankly bizarre at this stage.
Set 2 (1995-1998) The Peaceville Stable
Duncan Patterson, responsible for many of the band’s doomy, gothic laden 90s songs joins them on stage.
‘Fragile Dreams’ gets the crowd buzzing and we truly get immersed into the mid era Anathema soundscapes. The whole band nailed the sullen drenched, atmospheric feeling to this era.
One noticeable thing was that Danny looked quite subdued during this set, playing key riffs/solos turned away from the crowd, perhaps it was down to sheer fatigue from playing 3 hours of this 9 days tour in a row.
However, the quality of his playing does not dip in any shape or form. It is a minor distraction as Vinnie’s vocals are one of the many highlights of the night, powerful in ‘Empty’, haunting in ‘Lost Control’ and pained in the ‘Eternity’ trilogy.
The conviction and power in his vocals were unreal, such a raw ability on display and the crowd were lapping it all up.
“Have I really lost control?” Amazing.
Set 3 (1990-1995) Sleepless Nights Ahead
The final set of the night arrives and the song choices are stellar. This is what many fans were finally waiting for, the Anathema show I’ve been wanting to see.
Original vocalist Darren White arrives on stage for ‘Kingdom’ to great applause and within a few minutes injects a new vibe into the crowd. Slightly disappointed they decided to go with the ‘Falling Deeper’ version but Darren’s vocal performance alleviates this minor point by belting out the dramatic ‘My Kingdom’ lines which resonates with the whole crowd.
The hair on the back of your neck stands to complete attention when he projects his baleful tone and towers over songs like ‘Mine Is Yours To Drown In’ and ‘Lovelorn Rhapsody’.
Can’t help but smile at all the devil horns and head banging going on at an Anathema gig nowadays. Darren stage presence is both candid and captivating, he looked like he was really enjoying it all.
The gig ends on the final highlight of the evening, the old era favourite ‘Sleepless’.
It was the only way to end the night. The crowd responded just as powerfully at the end, I couldn’t hear myself scream in praise of such an perfect night and perfect end to the tour.
Darren rightly shouts “Dublin, fucking Dublin!!!”
A sign of an good gig is when time hardly registers, but what elevates this to an excellent gig is when the bands quality and energy manages to let time fly over you, leaving only its vacant shadow behind.
I have finally run out of superlatives to convey how good this was, but great memories of this gig will remain, a delight for fans across all the eras.
– Kevin Byrne ::: 19/04/15
– Photos with thanks to Ciaran Broderick