Anathema, Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, August 16, 2017
Anathema is one of those bands that is really hard to describe unless you’ve seen them live. Although they initially began as a doom metal band in the early 1990s, they have been in an almost constant state of evolution over the years and are now most often described as a progressive rock band. Despite their evolution, the band has remained popular with metal fans over the years while appealing to a much broader rock fan base as their style evolved. Their music is atmospheric and heavy, and fans revel in the deep emotions that that band’s music stirs within them. Until recently, I was only peripherally aware of Anathema’s music… but due to the constant praise of their music from several of my friends… I decided it was time to take a closer look.
Anathema just released their eleventh studio album this summer entitled “The Optimist”. The new album has a bit of a concept behind it as it attempts to answer the question of whatever happened to the guy on the cover of their 2001 album “A Fine Day to Exit”. But the album is not so deeply conceptual that the listener needs to know the previous narrative to enjoy dark and haunting melodies that “The Optimist” provides. Anathema’s summer tour of North America was to be very brief as it only consisted of nine shows in the Northeast region. Fortunately, the first show of the tour was very close to me and I was able to catch the band in Baltimore in mid-August.
Because it was a weekday, (and like most people in the music industry, I also have a day job…), I got to the show too late to see the opening band, Silver Snakes. I did get reports from several of the show attendees that Silver Snakes played a good set, but I can’t directly report on their show. I did however, get to the show in plenty of time to see Anathema’s full 2-hour set!
The show was at the Baltimore Soundstage; a smaller intimate club style venue with dark lighting that seemed to blend perfectly with Anathema’s dark musical style. And the venue was filled with hardcore fans! The dueling vocals of Lee Douglas and brothers Vincent and Danny Cavanaugh were beautiful and haunting; taking us all on an emotional journey through the bands long career. The songs moved so fluidly for one to the next it was almost hard to tell where one song ended and the next one began. Seventeen songs were played in all, with the majority of the songs coming from the band’s last four studio albums. Four songs were performed from “The Optimist”, including the title track. There were a few nods to yesteryear with two songs from 2003’s “A Natural Disaster” and three songs from 1998’s “Alternative 4”. “A Natural Disaster” was definitely my favorite song of the evening.
Anathema Set List:
Untouchable, Part 1
Untouchable, Part 2
The Beginning and the End
A Natural Disaster
Can’t Let Go
It was a great and emotionally moving two hours of music. And the band made promises to return to North American next year with a more comprehensive tour. I was personally very impressed with their performance… and I’ll definitely be back when they return. Regardless of your musical tastes, I think this is a band everyone should see at least once… so I’ll see you all there next time!