Post rock, neo-prog, atmospheric alt-rock...call it what you will but Anathema, quite simply, make fucking great music that has evolved and progressed over the last two albums to the point where one could argue they actually now transcend genre. And in Nottingham's Rescue Rooms tonight, a near capacity crowd has gathered to witness this talented bunch of musicians in action for what is their fourth date on their current UK/French tour. Appearing to an enthusiastic crowd at 8:10pm, the band initially treat attendees to last year's 'We're Here Because We're Here' album in its entirety, undoubtedly a statement of how content Anathema are with their latest studio effort which many have pronounced, including the band themselves, to be a career best. And live, the music sounds phenomenal, delivered as it is with all the raw emotion and avidity that's discernible on the recordings themselves. A diverse soundscape, the tracks that comprise 'We're Here Because We're Here' intelligently contrapose mellow down-tempo passages with more up-tempo heavier sections and everything in between, all rich with layers of skilfully executed instrumentation and, as a whole, on the live stage, offers the audience both a mesmeric and sonically enthralling experience over the course of an hour (although the time that passes seems a lot less as engrossing as the music is). Noticeably, the songs' heavier parts seem to pack more punch in a live setting which seems effective in engendering audience movement, and the crowd reciprocate to the band's energetic stage presence en masse. Following the new release's airing is an array fan favourites from the four albums prior to 'We're Here Because We're Here' including flawless renditions of 'Empty' and 'Lost Control' from 'Alternative 4', 'Deep', 'One Last Goodbye' and the title track from 'Judgement', and 'Release' from 'A Fine Day to Exit'. With minimal verbal communication with the audience from Cavanaghs Vincent and Danny between songs, Anathema maximise set time and let their music speak for itself. It's the music people have turned up to hear and with a set and performance as strong as tonight's, songs are delivered both in abundance and with passion that clearly leaves no-one in the Rescue Rooms disappointed. Eschewing formalities of the pre-encore stage exit and return due to a lack of time in nearing the venue's 10pm curfew for Saturday night gigs, Anathema's planned encore numbers flow contiguously from the main set in the form of 'Closer', 'A Natural Disaster' which showcases Lee Douglas' fine vocal talents, and 'Fragile Dreams'. When the band do actually leave the stage after the latter's climax, virtually every audience member vociferously demands an encore not realising they've just had one. The clock strikes 10pm, lights go up and Anathema predictably don't return but they leave an aura of pure satisfaction throughout the venue, and the punters that occupy it, through one fuck of a musically potent performance. Anathema have always gone from strength to strength during their career and, in 2011, they are evidently stronger than ever. Sheer brilliance.
Saturday 12th February 2011
Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
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