Walking towards a hundred foot cathedral is definitely not the expected norm when heading to a gig so I must say the thrill and excitement in the air was tangible as we headed into Liverpool’s amazing Anglican Cathedral for Anathema’s acoustic performance.
Anna Phoebe was the support for the main event on this tour and as a fledgling musician being introduced to the alternative world of music in such an exciting manner I thought her whole set, though only a brief thirty minutes, sounded incredible. The sweeping, visceral, dynamic and enchanting sounds filled the space with magic and it introduced us to the spaces acoustics and really brought us into the atmosphere well allowing us to feel immersed in the feel of the whole show. A really great performance and I plan to acquaint myself with her work now that I have been introduced and I encourage all to do the same.
For Anathema the bar had been set high and the atmosphere was already feeling quite electric and once I had adjusted to the unusual sight of leather jackets clad in black metal patches and doom metal t shirts wandering around a church, it was great to see a really dedicated crowd that had clearly followed the band from their original doom metal stage all the way to the ambient prog of today. That feeling really added something to the atmosphere, especially since this was the hometown show for two members at least, and where the band started.
Sound wise I can’t say a bad word – the performance was beautiful and a delight to listen to from start to finish, every track they played soared through the almost endless beams and rafters of the sweeping space and the harmonies were simply glorious with effect of the building’s acoustics.
There was a variety of colour schemes used to light the high altar behind where the band played to great effect, capturing the beauty of light and shadow playing on the intricate architecture, their encore even featured moving lights that patterned the walls and ceiling resembling the refraction of light off a disco ball. Generally speaking the lighting lacked finesse and I was disappointed that they didn’t opt for a full design with the lights they had to give such an unusual performance a greater sense of occasion.
I definitely enjoyed the show but I did have a few hang ups; the show was being recorded for the tour’s DVD and in case the camera crane at the front didn’t give it away for us the band drew more notice to this than was necessary. This would ordinarily be exciting and would have added more of a special feel to attending, but what it meant in this case was the band members were slightly more interested in the DVD being good than the audience present enjoying themselves. This went to such an extent that they played their first two openers then stopped the gig and insisted on doing the first song again for the DVD because they weren’t happy with it the first time. The majority of the audience were really supportive but I found it really ground my gears that we were cheated out of a song we’d paid to hear; I also thought it sounded better the first time and felt their self absorption quite obnoxious, so it soured my enjoyment somewhat.
Overall I can’t say the experience was bad, it was actually a really stunning show and it was so unique and exciting to be where we were hearing what we were hearing that it’s a gig I will remember and reflect on with fondness for quite some time.