I can’t believe it’s already been like… three weeks since my last show? I am definitely falling a little behind in life. Regardless, this show is worth discussing even a few weeks out. I had seen Anathema once before in New York City (Alcest opened that show and it was freaking amazing), but that was quite awhile ago now so it was definitely time to catch them when they came around this summer. Of course, there were some similarities between that date a few years ago and this show down in Boston. But all you need to know at this point is that Anathema is one of those bands you need to see. I don’t care if you’re into their style or not, it’s a mesmerizing performance that’s always worth experience. This particular tour was a brief run of shows, so I felt lucky that they rolled through my area and I got another chance to see them. Let’s dig into some details.
First off, this show took place at the Brighton Music Hall. I can’t remember where I saw Anathema in NYC, but I will say that I was stunned this show took place at such a small/rough around the edges spot. The last time I was at the Brighton Music Hall was for Taake I think. I would have expected them to perform at a larger, less grungy venue, to be honest. The Music Hall is standing room only, the layout is a tad awkward with bars along the sides, the stage basically in the center of the complex, and a pool hall in the back of the venue. But hey, I’ve seen plenty of shows there and none of them have been a bad experience, so I can’t complain that much. There was a photo pit, adequate bars/beers, a casual audience. It worked.
This was an early show. The first band to take the stage, Silver Snakes, began playing around 7 if my memory is accurate (it probably isn’t). To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to their set. They delivered a healthy dose of heavy and melodic. The songs were occasionally lengthy and covered a wide range of the musical spectrum. All told, they blended things pretty effectively and I guess in hindsight they gave this show a healthy punch given the more peaceful sounds of the headliner. Anyway, there are pictures below. Have fun.
Anathema will never not impress me, however. Yes, they opened with their quintessential “Untouchable” tracks from Weather Systems. I have seen this entrance before. Two albums ago. But you know what? It was still the perfect opener. I don’t know how many times I would need to see these songs performed before I would ever get tired of them. The dueling vocals of the Cavanagh brothers and Lee Douglas was incredibly natural in this live setting, and these opening moments served as the perfect way to deliver that right off the bat. Of course they eventually played tracks off of the incredible new album titled The Optimist (“San Francisco” and “Leaving It Behind” to name a couple). but it was, and always has been, the diversity of their setlist relative to their discography that makes their shows so memorable.
From song to song, they moved so fluidly from the acoustic ballads to the more upbeat tracks. They covered the highlights from the most recent two albums as well as my favorite throwbacks from We’re Here Because We’re Here and A Natural Disaster. The ladder album is both the first record that got me into Anathema and my favorite album they ever put out. Simple coincidence, I swear. Hearing “Closer” again, for example, is such a treat. It’s seems like a fairly straightforward song, but it’s a ton of fun to listen to live. Meanwhile, from We’re Here, songs like “Thin Air” and “Dreaming Light” are absolutely timeless. You see these moments performed in front of you and they just take you to a different time and place. It’s hard to really explain to be honest.
Music aside, this group was simply a blast to see on stage. They were definitely having a good time, cracking jokes about our bronze specimen in the oval office and everything. They just bring this fun-loving energy that is absolutely addicting and hits you in all the right ways emotionally. For many reasons, this concert felt a little different. It felt more like a party — a collection of mutual fans and friends that just wanted to enjoy a night out with one of the most dynamic bands going. Or maybe it just felt this way because I’m used to dark, depressing concert settings. Who knows. Regardless, the upbeat atmosphere of this particular evening is what distinguished it from so many other shows I have seen in recent weeks. But then again, there haven’t really been any Anathema shows that didn’t resonate. The collective out of Liverpool proved once again they are always worth checking out.
“Ein bier… bitte.”