Anathema - live @ Engine Rooms, Southampton 15/11/2016

DS_Convertible reviews Anathema live at Engine Rooms, Southampton. 

The recent ‘An Evening With Anathema’ tour provided one of British’s most underrated bands the opportunity to road-test material planned for next year’s eleventh album offering, as well as a warm-up to the small matter of a support slot to Opeth at Wembley Arena. Although relishing the thought of some top notch progressive rock, this reviewer wasn’t quite prepared for just how life-affirming the night would prove.

Taking place at Southampton’s rather ace Engine Rooms, the night was all about the Liverpudlian band. No support on offer, just the chance to witness an act at the top of its game. Leaning heavily on tracks from the recent ‘Weather Systems’ and ‘Distant Satellites’ masterpieces, the early opening comb of fan favourites ‘Untouchable, Pt. 1’ and ‘Untouchable Part 2’ quickly gets an already up-for-it crowd fully on-board. Indeed, one of the most heart-warming aspects of the night was the clear affection thrown the band’s way by an increasingly vocal audience. This interaction seemed to quickly relax the band who, as the evening goes on, provide some expletive-ridden, comedian-worthy stage banter in delightful contrast to the musically serious, meticulously crafted mini-epics delivered.

Despite no tracks from ‘Judgement’ (nooo!), some highlights from a set brimming with quality include the quirky electronica of ‘Closer’, the festival-worthy tribal percussion of ‘Distant Satellites’, the one-riff drive of an as-yet unnamed new track and the emotionally devastating backing singing provided by female vocalist Lee Douglas, brought to the fore on a note-perfect rendition of ‘A Natural Disaster’. Finishing on a possibly-spontaneous and damn impressive cover of Pink Floyd's ‘Comfortably Numb’, it’s almost a crushing disappointment that the night is at an end.

Struggling to recall such an enjoyable and wondrous gig, I’m now early awaiting what the new album, to be recored in Mogwai’s studio, will bring. Everything crossed Anathema will hit the road again soon after. A quite magical night.