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ANATHEMA, Bruce Soord, Engineers, Nosound
Union Chapel, London 30
One of the
negative things about the ever growing importance of technology in music
is that it enables a vast number of technically inadequate musicians to
produce bodies of work whose quality does not correspond with their
good producer and an up-to-date operating system such as ProTools can
turn any mouse into a man during the recording process, the former will
eventually face having to perform live - the place where only the truly
gifted are capable of winning their laurels.
not many bands that I am aware of whose live performances consistently
outshine their studio efforts. One such collective, however, is the
Liverpudlian quintet Anathema, so every time an opportunity to attend
such a show is provided, I tend to grab it with both hands.
bound to make this Friday night show truly special, apart from seeing
one of my favourite bands live of course, was the fact that their
performance was to be part of an acoustic festival organised by their
current label Kscope, taking place at the beautiful interior of London's
Congregationalist Union Chapel and so it was with much excitement that I
headed towards the north London venue after another stressful day at
So far in my life I have been lucky enough to have attended many unusual
shows, from a hundred people-strong festival in the back garden in a
small Dutch village to the eighty- thousand Wacken Open Air festival in
Germany but never before have I had the opportunity to listen to a rock
performance inside the walls of an active religious establishment.
must be given to the organisers of this concert for making this one of
the best live settings I have ever seen, even though the limited amount
of space that was provided in front of the Chapel's pulpit for setting
the stage and the total absence of a drum kit was certainly a topic for
discussion amongst the audience.
First to hit
the stage were two members of the Italian Art/Progressive Rock outfit
Nosound, with main man Giancarlo Erra (acoustic guitar/vocals) and
keyboardist Paolo Martellacci. I have never before listened to the music
of this quintet but I was well aware of their tendency to delve into
long atmospheric interludes influenced by the works of the mighty Pink
Floyd so I decided quite early on to give them my utmost attention.
couple of songs were fairly pleasant and quite indicative of what the
band's set was to be, with Giancarlo taking up a leading role, however
his not-so-commanding vocal performance combined with a few technical
problems (a three minute gap while trying to get the electric guitar
going) seems to have somewhat damaged the consistency of the set.
that, compositions such as "The Broken Parts” and the upcoming "Tomakis”
(not sure if I spell it right) were met with much excitement by the
crowd who gave the duet a solid round of applause just before they left
the stage half an hour later.
duet of the night was that of Simon Phipps and Mark Peters from the
London based dream pop quintet Engineers - whose music was
praised by Anathema's Danny Cavanagh as "The best I've heard in a long
time” prior to the show.
It is with
much sadness that I find myself inclined to disagree with Danny as I
found the band's performance to be lacking spontaneity and energy,
resulting in me losing interest after the first couple of songs.
There can be
many ways of describing how these two lads sound in an acoustic setting
but to me that night they came across as a bland and far less inspiring
version of Simon and Garfunkel - well, as their duet would have sounded
today had Garfunkel not been suffering from vocal cord paresis.
a certain part of the audience seemed to be having a much better time
than I did at this stage, clapping their hands and singing along to the
tunes of "Forgiveness”, "How To Say Goodbye” and "What It's Worth” but
after thirty minutes of listening to their music the only thing I was
really happy about was the fact that the time to see Anathema on stage
was fast approaching.
the vast majority of the crowd was here to see Anathema, I did notice
quite a few people sporting T-shirts featuring The Pineapple Thief logo
and it was these very same people who welcomed guitarist Bruce Soord
I am fully
aware of the kind of noise that an acoustic guitar can make in the right
hands, still I was slightly taken aback by the power and enthusiasm that
Bruce brought with him on stage tonight.
his set with the quite emotive "My Debt To You” he went on tormenting
his guitar (which miraculously did not lose any strings in the process)
while performing material from past releases, all of which were received
quite positively by the audience.
assistance of a female vocal companion, Bruce's intention to grant us
with what was described as a ‘world premiere' of a track entitled "One
More Step Away” initially failed as the energetic frontman got so
excited that he played the tunes at a much faster tempo.
face in embarrassment and knowing that the performance was being
recorded, he quickly composed himself and nailed it at the second try
and by the time he performed "Snowdrops” all memories of past mishaps
were truly forgotten.
performance was one of the best that I have personally seen, even though
the band was only really represented by the trio Vinnie and Danny
Cavanagh and female vocalist Lee Douglas.
How did the
Liverpudlians cope with the total absence of a rhythm section? As only a
really talented band would! Using the body of his acoustic guitar as a
drum, Danny recorded a simple beat which he then looped with the
assistance of his guitar pedal and by the time Vinnie and Lee came onto
the stage, this simple tune had evolved into the foundation theme of the
acoustic version of "Kingdom”.
The band did
not have to try hard to acquire the crowd's participation as clapping
hands followed the introduction of "Thin Air” - an awesome performance
which found Danny's acoustic and Vinnie's electric guitars working in
became much better when Danny decided to sit behind the piano for
"Dreaming Light” and Lee Douglas' ethereal vocals gave the classic opus
"Deep” a new lease of life.
three members joined forces in "Angels Walk Amongst Us” I was truly
blown away by the emotional intensity of their performance and I almost
shed a tear when Lee began singing the lyrics to the now classic "A
participation was required, and was graciously provided, during the
performance of "Flying” and the three members of Anathema left the stage
only after they had provided us with an acoustic take on the best song
they have ever recorded, in my opinion, the monumental "Fragile Dreams”.
the end of his band's set, Vinnie Cavanagh thanked the audience for
their support and, referring to the organisers of the event and his
label Kscope, insisted that what both these parties ought to aim at
organising a festival that would enable these bands to perform their
material in an electric setting.
on the reaction of the crowd tonight and my personal impression of this
festival I really cannot see any reason why such an endeavour should not
be undertaken again in the near future. Anathema have proven once again
that they are quite capable of headlining any event and with label mates
featuring, amongst others, Porcupine Tree, Gazpatcho and Ulver, the
thought alone of attending such a show is exciting me already!
Anathema Set List: Kingdom/ Thin Air/ Dreaming Light/ Deep/
Angels Walk Among Us/ A Natural Disaster/ Flying/ Fragile Dreams
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