Anathema are the first band ever to have played a gig at Leeds Minster, and walking into it I wasn’t surprised – it didn’t seem a venue that would lend itself to a live band. The seating was only five-wide in the main ‘stalls’ and went back a good distance. I was lucky enough to be sat about five rows back, but even so my view wasn’t great.
That said, the setting was absolutely beautiful, the acoustics were great, and I soon got used to the less that ordinary seating set up. The support act for the night was prog violinist extraordinaire Anna Phoebe accompanied by acoustic guitar. The fantastic arrangements, exquisite playing from both parties, with open chords resonating throughout the church, along with Spanish and Middle Eastern influences, provided an interesting, enjoyable, if a bit short set. Someone I’ll definitely be checking out on record.
Anathema began a special evening with The Beatles’ ‘Because’ accompanied by a minimalist light show, followed by ‘The Lost Song Part 2’ from their latest release Distant Satellites. As this was an acoustic evening, there was no bombastic introduction to their set, which set the subdued tone well for the rest of the night. A near flawless performance of set-staples ‘Untouchable Parts 1 and 2’ followed, introducing us to the incredible vocals and emotion that Anathema are so revered for. The stripped down acoustic-ness of the evening did not detract from the songs, and was especially effective in ‘Dreaming Light’, one of the early highlights for me. A slightly different arrangement and some gorgeous guitar playing and singing combined to make a truly sublime rendition of one of my favourite Anathema tracks.
I wondered how they would tackle some of the songs acoustically, ‘Anathema’ in particular, but I needn’t have worried. With added bass, percussion and cello, and with Danny behind a keyboard, it was almost better than the studio recording. Without the flashiness of the guitar solo, all the instruments worked together to create a multi-layered crescendo which received one of the loudest cheers of the night.
After playing a couple of tracks from their earlier days, they played a few newer ones before ending the main set with an amazing performance of ‘Distant Satellites’ followed by ‘Take Shelter’, another highlight for me. The set was heavily based around Danny’s loop pedal, and the ending of ‘Take Shelter’ was left to play on as they left the stage which was a special moment. A somewhat surprising performance (for me) of ‘Internal Landscapes’ started the encore. It’s one of my favourite Anathema tracks but somehow I wouldn’t expect them to play it live. It lent itself incredibly to an acoustic performance, and Vinny’s vocals towards the end proved how incredible a singer he is. Classic tracks ‘A Natural Disaster’ and ‘Fragile Dreams’ (complete with some frisson-inducing mirror ball lights) ended the show, and a standing ovation saw them off the stage.
My only qualm with what was truly a special concert was the fact that Danny seemed quite nervous with the loop pedal, and kept telling the audience so! I’m not sure if it was just me, but when someone introduces a song with “I hope I don’t mess this one up”, it makes you listen out for the mistakes they may or may not make (and there were a couple). Hopefully he’ll have ironed out all his worries and mistakes by the time they film their Liverpool show. I’d also like to thank the lady in front of me for watching 90% of the show through her phone screen held above her head, I’m sure you had a great time.
The Lost Song Part 2
Untouchable Part 1
Untouchable Part 2
Ariel (which I found out is pronounced ‘arielle’, not like a TV aerial, the more you know…)
The Beginning and the End
A Natural Disaster