GIG REVIEW: Anathema & Alcest Live at The Academy, Dublin
“This isn’t Resonance!” One of the many exclamations made on Sunday evening in Dublin’s The Academy from renowned Anathema guitarist, Danny Cavanagh. A response to a rowdy crowd member who couldn’t quite seem to grasp the “And Now For Something Completely Different” concept behind their latest show. Heckling instead, choosing to remain buried in the bands earlier catalogue, he couldn’t quite fathom what was going on. Or that the only person in the room who remotely wanted to hear him was him.
Indeed, Resonance this was not. This was The Optimist Tour, an extensive set of show dates in support of the latest record, of the same name, released by Liverpool’s own alternative rockers, Anathema. An excuse for their much anticipated return to Dublin to come to fruition.
Support on the night came from French metallers Alcest, who garnered and an almost full venue excited for their set. Yet despite the numbers, their show failed to deliver anything truly worthy of such an early turnout. A stagnant pace married to a less than enthused demeanour made for little or no excitement. If Alcest have a reputation for putting on a great live show, then they left it at home this particular evening.
In contrast, Anathema packed all the necessary goods required to give the Irish audience exactly what they wanted, and then some. Taking to the stage against a backdrop of worldly and psychedelic images as the instrumental track “San Francisco” played over the sound system, one by one the band made their way to the stage. The varied uproars of applause from member to member were immediately, and hilariously, highlighted, crafting smiles upon the crowd. None more so than when the opening notes of “Untouchable” were struck. At which point the audience were treated to the full genius of this two part epic in its entirety.
What followed was a healthy, well-balanced two hour set of (mostly) original material, including an impromptu (comically failed) cover of some of the finer U2 material. From start to finish, a captivating and evident excitement oozed from front-man and vocalist Vincent Cavanagh which, at times, was almost child like in the best sense of the expression. Bunny hopping between songs, unable to contain his excitement or retain any patience before kicking into tracks such as “Leaving it Behind”, “The Beginning and the End” and the nights storming closer “Fragile Dreams”, the sheer charisma and passion from Cavanagh was infectious and carried the crowd with him through each number.
The minimal preoccupation with phones by the audience was a testament to just how incredible a performance Anathema were hell bent on giving. From the always enjoyable duets with Lee Douglas, who added her much enjoyed feminine tones to the evening’s vocals, particularly on the bands haunting rendition of “Endless Ways”, to some dry but painfully funny English humour, to both blistering and eerily sombre guitar solos taking place in the crowd, nothing fell short at any time. The encore, with an almost tribal drum ensemble filling the stage and the room, left the jaw dropped audience applauding away their chills at what they had just witnessed and partaken of.
A couple of songs shy of a twenty track set, Anathema filled the venue with no dead air or filler, delivering a blistering set blissfully received by the cheering Dublin fans. No, this was not Resonance, and it didn’t need to be. ‘The Optimist’ not only shines on its own merit as an exceedingly good chapter in the bands career, but the songs that fill it breathe new life, and bring added dimensions, to Anathema’s already colossal performance. A point demonstrated tonight by a well and truly satisfied audience that can’t wait to welcome them again.