Anathema - Universal

Despite the last couple of Anathema albums slowly boring me to death, there was still some excitement building for this live DVD. Always a better band live, the prospect of an added orchestra in a beautiful old venue ticked all sorts of boxes. My mistake was not to check the setlist beforehand, and after seventy minutes of recent material - with no nods to the past - I was somewhat in distress. The energy the band has in concert seems completely lost here, no sense of it coming out of the speakers; and the lack of a surround sound audio option is a huge mistake, and might have gone some way to negating the disappointment.

All these songs are filled with grandeur as it is, so the orchestra add so little that if the camera is off them too long you forget they are even there. Of course, the one highlight of the main set remains 'A Natural Disaster', a heart-wrenchingly beautiful song that brings out the goose bumps every time. It is only when Anathema dump the orchestra and rock out for the four song encore does this spark into any sort of life. The difference between the two versions of 'Fragile Dreams' is almost unbelievable and very telling, leaving little doubt this grand idea was a simple mistake.



out of 10

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