Over the decades, many siblings have come together musically, like The Jackson 5, The Misfits, and Gojira. However, few are more fascinating to watch evolve than Liverpool’s Anathema.
When brothers Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh started out, they had a much darker sound than the beautifully emotional Anathema we hear today. And along with drummer/keyboardist John Douglas, they have come a long way from the gothic doom of 1992’s ‘The Crestfallen’ EP. With brother Jamie Cavanagh on bass, Douglas’ sister Lee sharing the mic, and drum and key support from Daniel Cardoso, the band has embarked upon ‘The Optimist Tour’, which continues over to Europe in the fall.[metalwani_content_ad]
While Anathema doesn’t play on this side of the pond too often, they are definitely worth the wait. They began their set at The Opera House in Toronto the only logical way, with “Untouchable” (parts one and two), followed by three tracks in a row from their latest release, ‘The Optimist’. The set list comprised a good balance of material, stretching from this year’s album all the way back to ‘Alternative 4’, off of which they performed “Destiny”, “Lost Control”, and “Fragile Dreams”. And the crowd couldn’t contain their excitement!
Throughout their roughly two-hour set, a large screen showed swirls of nature and mildly psychedelic celestial images that, during “Closer”, became an interesting projection of what appeared to be Vincent’s face mouthing the lyrics, as the real man stood directly beneath. Speaking of their charismatic frontman, if you have ever watched the band’s ‘Untouchable’ live album and wondered how he could be such a fantastic vocalist, seeing it in person reaffirms that bewilderment.
And he isn’t the only one to give the fans a flawless performance; the entire ensemble was as solid as any studio album, with a cheerful yet intense energy that every single body in the venue could feed off of. Daniel in particular kept the show alive with his dry, English humour, and spent a few minutes instructing the fans not to be like those he had encountered at a recent U2 concert, who had forced him to watch half of it through their phone screens. I definitely appreciated that more than most in the front few rows.
As per usual, the sound quality at The Opera House was decent, with all members coming through nicely. The audience may have been especially ripe, but their enthusiasm fuelled the evening, filling the air with surprisingly on-time singing and clapping. While a good portion of the setlist was newer material in support of this year’s ‘The Optimist’, Anathema treated fans to several of their favourite tracks from six out of eleven studio albums, which is a better mix than what bands often provide.[metalwani_content_ad]
Furthermore, they hinted at a possible February return to Canada, so perhaps we don’t have to wait nearly as long for a dose of one of the cleanest and ever-changing bands out there.