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Live Reviews : Anathema (UK) @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne 23/08/2014

By on August 27, 2014

Having recently arrived back from a run of European metal festivals (Masters of Rock, Metal Days, and Wacken Open Air – reviews up very soon), I was itching to see something a little more intimate.

Anathema. The perfect intimate.

Anathema Australian Tour 2014

Upon arrival, I couldn’t believe how far the line snaked out the back of the Corner Hotel. Two decades of going to gigs and I’d never seen anything like itl. Up and around it went as far as the eye could see and as far as the soldout 700+ crowd would stretch. It was quite impressive. Through the grapevine I heard that the band’s flight from Sydney had been delayed and thus the VIP set was delayed, The Eternal’s set was delayed, and Anathema’s start time was also delayed. And what does one do whilst waiting for the line to dissipate? One wanders into the front bar. It wasn’t until The Eternal had almost completed their set that the line had vanished and thus, I missed The Eternal. I love them, but I’ll have to cop that one (apologies to the boys)

The Corner Hotel does not possess a stage worthy of a six-piece – especially one that compromises a drummer, a percussionist, many singers, guitarists, sequencers, and keyboards. There was even a  drum shield, I assume, to curb the sound of drummer Daniel Cardoso. No wonder The Eternal played on the second stage. And no wonder Anathema’s guitar tech was situated near the exit door, about 10 metres from the left of stage. I’d never seen a setup like it.

Anathema’s show was split in two halves – the first half comprised tracks from their recent, moodier releases Distant Satellites, Weather Systems, and We’re Here Because We’re Here, opening with  Untouchable Part One and Two. Boys held girls, girls held boys, and I wouldn’t be surprised if girls held girls and boys held boys such is the nature of Anathema’s music nowadays.The opening hit me like a two tonne heavy thing; allowing the stunning vocals of Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas to set the tone for the evening. Displaying such strong emotion, each of these tracks had a familiarity about it – mellow, melodious harmonies with a crescendo of deft drumming and an eager display by Danny Cavanagh on guitars. It was repetitious, but was of such high quality it’s really hard to criticise.

The second half of the show was far rockier. Sure, they didn’t venture to their first three albums but it allowed Jamie and Danny Cavanagh to take a more central role on stage and for the crowd to get their rocks off. Which they did.

What struck me was the informality of the whole show.  Whilst I was positioned to the side of the stage, it was clear the band had a terrific rapport with the audience. Light hearted jokes, Neighbours and Home & Away references, family connections, I reckon Vincent was on a first name basis with about half of the fans. This bond was never broken but nourished and nurtured throughout. And this wasn’t your typical metal audience either. The crowd was more respectful than energetic. Which is not to say there weren’t bouts of excitement, there definitely was in tracks like Deep and The Storm Before The Calm, it was more that people were there to listen and enjoy. At times, the mellowness of the songs left my arms down, my voice low, and my eyes shut as I soaked up the atmosphere of the moment. Hearing Lee Douglas sing A Natural Disaster was something to behold, err, behear, as was Parisienne Moonlight but the signature ballad for the night was One Last Goodbye which united everybody. Joy, pleasure, pain, looking around the audience you could feel it all. A cathartic experience for a very open crowd.

Aside from an elevated distorted guitar from Danny, the sound was superb. It’s always weird when the soft atmosphere of a band’s music is punctuated by the clearly audible rattling of bar drinks but for such a precise band with contrasting soundscapes, I couldn’t have asked for a better sound.

No matter the band, there’s nothing like seeing a soldout show. Having been a fan of them since 1998s Alternative 4, I’m glad I finally got to see them and I hope they’ll return to Australian shores in a few year’s time.


Untouchable, Part 1 (Weather Systems)

Untouchable, Part 2 (Weather Systems)

Thin Air (We’re Here Because We’re Here)

Dreaming Light (We’re Here Because We’re Here)

The Lost Song, Part 3 (Distant Satellites)

Anathema (Distant Satellites)

Deep (Judgement)

The Storm Before The Calm (Weather Systems)

Universal (We’re Here Because We’re Here)

Closer (A Natural Disaster)

A Natural Disaster (A Natural Disaster)

Distant Satellites (Distant Satellites)

Are You There? (acoustic) (A Natural Disaster)

Parisienne Moonlight(Judgement)

A Simple Mistake (We’re Here Because We’re Here)

One Last Goodbye(Judgement)

Fragile Dreams (Alternative 4)


Since 1999, Gary Carson has co-hosted Australia's longest running prog/power metal radio show on Screaming Symphony. Gary has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology/Sociology and enjoys horrifically violent games, horrifically violent books, and horrifically violent movies. And gay power metal. Check out Screaming Symphony every Thursday night from 10pm (Melbourne time) on PBS.FM