In many ways, it was inevitable Anathema would end up playing a church.
Their music has, over the last few years especially, taken on a notably exultant quality.
Weather Systems in particular sounded dangerously close to Praise Rock.
Yet this development is really just a consequence of the ever more overt vulnerability they allow into their music – something that was always there from day one anyhow.
This live album (and DVD) takes a sweep back over ‘Satellties’, ‘Weather Systems’, ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’, the emotional lodestone of ‘A Natural Disaster’ and finally ‘Alternative 4’.
The spirit of homecoming to their native Liverpool really does permeate, and you can almost sense the crowd coming together with them through it.
Again continuing the band’s development of late, the superb Lee Douglas is now elevated to all but equal position with Vinnie, and unsurprisingly she excels here.
It takes a track or two to get warmed up, but after that the whole thing simply sings.
‘Untouchable’ has Vinnie and Lee singing literally into each others eyes, while Danny opens the sumptuous ‘Thin Air’ using his guitar for percussion.From there it is taken to new heights of beauty.
Just listening back to the original ‘Thin Air’, what’s incredible is how far back in the mix Vinnie’s vocals sound in comparison to this, which has his every tremble right up at the mic.
As with the ‘Hindsight’ acoustic collection from a few years ago, the acoustic telling brings a certain added simplicity and warmth.
‘Anathema’, which stood out on ‘Distant Satellites’ with that cracking guitar solo, benefits from the same thing done on a violin.
‘Temporary Peace’ is another highlight, moving as it does from dark to light. It’s enriched here by the lachrymose cello.
Almost everything Anathema do is fantastic, and I’d suggest even moreso these days than before. Yes, there are a few stylistic wobbles here and there (again I’d cite ‘Weather Systems’), but the depth of emotion this band are able to communicate through their music is at time unrivalled.
You may already have all of these tracks, and in some instances already in acoustic or live forms (such as ‘Hindsight’). But dont worry about it – make sure to pick this up.
Just like all their work, it’s absolutely beautiful.
And in this case, played in a cathedral by family lads of Irish stock – there’s just something extra there.
Songs that become prayers for the faithless, perhaps.
4.3/5 – Earl Grey ::: 28/11/15