It’s been a good year for Anathema in many regards and the year is coming to an end with three dates in Ireland – Cork, Dublin and Belfast. Their Dublin stop off includes this simply magnificent showing in The Village.
Support act North Atlantic Oscillation have also returned to Ireland after only being here two months prior supporting Porcupine Tree. One of the problems they faced at that show was not many people paying attention to or really being bothered with them. It’s the same here and a shame really, considering the momentum they should have behind them given the quality of debut full length Grappling Hooks. However, a slightly less than average sound isn’t doing them any favours either but they’ll live to fight another day.
However, nothing can quite prepare anyone for Anathema. Latest album, the wondrous, We’re Here Because We’re Here is played in its glorious entirety. For the climax of opening number ‘Thin Air’, singer/guitarist Vincent Cavanagh is cavorting uncontrollably and by album curtain call ‘Hindsight’, many are just left breathless. The run through serves as a validation of what a spectacle the new record is.
It’s then followed by a set of other material spanning from 1998’s Alternative 4 to A Natural Disaster. The first four tracks of Judgement get a look in with ‘Deep’ and ‘Forgotten Hopes’ being particular highlights as well as ‘Pitiful’ igniting a fire under the crowd.
For a while during the night, the band are battling through some sound problems. They succeed however, with Danny Cavanagh frequently miming and motioning instructions to the sound engineer. Regardless, top to bottom Anathema are a triumph. Each track is as vital as the last but nothing less could be expected of a band with a near-faultless back catalogue.
Vincent is clearly enjoying every moment of the show and vocally he sounds astounding. Meanwhile Lee Douglas provides her own gorgeous vocals, particularly when taking the spotlight for a truly awe-inspiring rendition of ‘A Natural Disaster’. The set is rife throughout with staggering peaks and troughs, like the despondent airs of ‘Lost Control’ or the climactic catharsis of ‘Closer’.
Then there’s the encore. ‘One Last Goodbye’ remains the affecting beauty it always is with all voices present in unison for its stunning and heart-rending conclusion. The closer of the night comes in the shape of the rapturous ‘Fragile Dreams’, which sounds frankly, huge.
It is one thing that Anathema have dropped one of the album’s the year, it’s another that their live shows have such an equally powerful presence. A spectacular way to end 2010.