Once upon the time... ok, 4 years ago ANATHEMA stopped
at the Matrix in Bochum, Germany in support of their album A
Natural Desaster back at the time. A memorable show, kind
of… Since then the Scouser more or less lived a shadow existence,
got dropped by their label without finding a new home and had
to face some other problems too. In between the gents have been
busily touring, several times with Porcupine Tree, a perfect and
under the skin going tour package ;)
2008 ANATHEMA finally released their long awaited new record
Hindsight, which in fact contains only one new
song, the rest are reworked older songs in an acoustic/symphonic
soundrobe. Nice though and of course a wonderful reason to show
their faces again, on stage, as headliner, with a promised long
Ok, let’s go to the Matrix, a location that likes to confuse
its guests with opening times. Announced was 6pm doors and 7pm
beginning of the show. De facto doors got open after 7pm and the
show kicked off at 8pm. Hmm. Odd. The Matrix seemingly also has
taken over the Cologne-beverage-concept: no air condition! It
quickly became really hot in the tube. Should have boosted the
With the tube half filled French mastermind Nicolas Chapel alias
:: opened the evening, supported by a live drummer
and bassist. An almost 50 minutes longing fantastic journey followed
through the band’s debut record Building An Empire.
A real highlight was the 15 minutes running closer entitled Sand,
which was a hauntingly beautiful manifest of emotions.
[Jochen] What quickly stroke (and didn’t get any
better at the headliner’s show) was the bad sound, which
turned out the fast entry and the shorter interludes around The
Perfect Symmetry and Sand to a pasty 0815 thrashing.
Here nothing was to sense out from the often quoted closeness
to Porcupine Tree. DEMIANS became strong when they took
time to develop their musical ideas and just peu à peu
pushed towards to heavier areas. In any case a band with huge
potential we will hopefully hear much more from in adequate ambiance.
:: afterwards got frenetically welcomed and opened
their set downright classic with Deep and Closer.
The already pasty sound gets even more unbalanced, Vincent Cavanaghs
singing and guitar are way too quiet and one speaker completely
failed every now and then. Monitor sound must have been to be
ok because the band seemingly didn’t realize what was going
on. However, it was very dark, completely smoked and the Cavanaghs
nothing more than just silhouette, while drummer John and key
wiz Lez hardly ever stepped out of the fog. Fans took it easy
and enthusiastically celebrated the band and themselves. Every
song got sung along like a many-voiced choir, finding its climax
during the old classics. With goose-flesh guaranteed. Meanwhile
it seems like the band doesn’t feel comfortable in their
songs anymore, which have changed a lot. Especially Vincent played
often wrong and didn’t find the right cue or lyric line.
It surely isn’t uncomplicated to tour with the last record
dated back for years and a band entering the stage to play stale
news. Either the base of such shows is the enjoyment of playing
live together or to present old songs in new versions. First one
I definitely won’t deny, the Cavanagh brothers often act
much enthusiastic, although singer Vincents performance sometimes
turned out to be pure posing because of the already mentioned
sound problems. At least he honored the crowd as “best audience
so far”, which wasn’t bereft of irony since the Bochum
show was the sixth one on the itinerary. Regarding the re-orientation
I think the will is there but the realization succeeds just half-hearted.
Still elegiac, but heavier than on the semi-acoustic Hindsight
album, ANATHEMA oscillate between the desire of establishing
themselves in the melancholic Alternative scene but not losing
the headbanging moments. Nice try but there other bands out there
that manage this tightrope walk much better. Thereby ANATHEMA
don’t need to hide their light under a bushel, they are
virtuoso in creating moving atmosphere, and when they start to
rock, no matter if dreamy or heavy, with the audience embraced,
it warmed the heart. Downright born for a charismatic show the
band too often thwarted themselves. And... Vincents vocoder experiments
aren’t the worst one, but who needs such thing in such surroundings?
We rather yield it to Cher.
ANATHEMA delivered a 2 hours entertainment with highs and
lows: sometimes stirrings, sometimes stale and unoriented and
then again able to get to the point again with songs and contents.
A metamorphosis, whereas the most thrilling question is: what’s
coming next? Is there anything coming at all?
Setlist: Deep, Closer, Far Away, Angels Walk Among Us,
A Simple Mistake, Anyone Anywhere, Empty, Judgement/Panic, Shroud
Of False, Lost Control, Regret, Hope, Temporary Peace, Flying,
Are You There, One Last Goodbye // Angelica, Sleepless, Hindsight
It was a mixed show experience with bad sound and lights and too
much smoke, an inspiring show by DEMIANS and a frenetically
taken show by ANATHEMA.
[Jochen] Word! I agree.