GIG REVIEW: An Evening With ANATHEMA & ALCEST Live at La Riviera, Madrid
Here in Madrid, La Riviera’s doors opened at 6:30pm with around 40 people queueing(the ones who want to be front row to be in communion with the bands…almost directly on stage!) and we were not sure that playing during the National day “La Hispanidad” will bring more people.
But, a few minutes before 7pm, ‘Onyx’ intro song from Alcest started and looking backwards, we could not even see the end of the crowd: actually, thousands of people came in! Alcest started ‘Kodama’ title song from their last album with a very big applause. We were all immediately transported thanks to the power, precision and balance between their guitars, bass and drums.
Then, no break, we followed the journey to ‘Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles’ from their album Les voyages de l’âme (The Journeys of the Soul) issued in 2012: I was looking around and we were all flying high already.
Neige, very shy while stepping on the stage, delivered us a guttural screaming coming as natural as melodic. Alcest kept us high. This was 1 hour of pure Magic with a Spanish and non-Spanish crowd who really came for Alcest too. When the guitars exploded again with ‘Oiseaux de proie’ and ‘Eclosion’, followed by ‘Autre temps and ‘Percées de lumières’, the crowd was deeply feeling the music, moving around, singing their heart out.
And when Neige announced the last track…naturally came ‘Deliverance’ (i.e. Liberation)…but despite we were all waiting for Anathema, we wanted more: Alcest really took us completely into their world.
After the stage got prepared with some strawberries for Vincent Cavanagh and other specific drinks for anyone of them, ‘San Francisco’ song from their recently rewarded album The Optimist started to introduce a Daniel Cavanagh who opened his arms standing up to the crowd and fully relaxed (by a Spanish mood?!).
Except John Douglas who could not come, they all came in with excellent Artworks in the background…the road which maybe leads to that beach (…we remember A fine day to exit cover). Vincent and Lee Douglas‘s voices mixed together were gorgeous from the start: ‘Untouchable part 1 and 2’…the energy of their voices, the movie behind, the lights… everything mixed so perfectly except the outgoing sound, but this got solved when they played the next three tracks coming from their last album The Optimist: ‘Can’t let go’, ‘Endless ways’ and ‘The Optimist’. The audience knew the songs and there was a warm contribution to finally welcome their last opus, where Lee’s voice is more and more powerful with high vocal techniques…we really felt that the audience was waiting for her to start singing…and again, the goosebump! Now the band cannot exist without her voice…Lee was on stage and we didn’t want her to stay at the back!
Such a nice moment with ‘The Lost song Part 3’ from Distant satellites album, followed by a simple, direct and pure ‘Dreaming Light’. Then we got back to A fine day to exit album with ‘Pressure’, then ‘A simple mistake’ from We’re here because we’re here and the beautiful ‘Closer’ from A natural disaster. After a short break, they came back with ‘Firelight’ from Distant satellites.
Jamie Cavanagh’s bass playing has been really awesome that night and he actually stayed upfront more tan usual. When they continued with ‘Springfield’, the crowd got very enthusiastic and we felt the Magic like an ‘almost-happy-ending’. The last song was ‘Back to start’ from The Optimist which has been for that particular occasion “rearranged” by a happy Vincent singing the spanish traditional song “cada día te quiero más, oe oe, no puedo parar…”: that provoked bery good laughs in the audience and helped this final to be even more epic.
During a short second break, the band left Danny Cavanagh alone on stage…and silence prevailed to listen to the intimate ‘The Exorcist’ song from Danny’s solo album Monochrome: only keyboards and applause from the crowd when Danny sung with a strong and beautiful voice “can you see me, can you feel me…can you save me from myself…”. What a feeling! And when Danny called Lee back on stage to interpret ‘Glory Box’ from Portishead, we could really feel that she “just wanna be a woman”…another goosebump and amazing moment.
The band ended with the powerful ‘Fragile dreams’ (where I personally missed John Douglas’ drums) and Madrid crowd responded very well, jumping and headbanging as much as they could. The final has been handled with humor by the band playing the intro of ‘No surprises’ from Radiohead with Vincent making fun of it “Ah, you think it’s a Radiohead song, but…” comes ‘What a wonderful world’ from Louis Armstrong…that was a perfect matching by the way!
The audience stood up front of the stage long before moving, hoping for another “bis”…if the old ‘doom’-Anathema is not anymore, we still entered their aerial universe and did not want to go back to reality.