Anathema - Islington Academy, London

To celebrate the eventual release of new album We're Here Because We're Here after five years in the making (and continual remaking if the stories are to be believed), artful prog rockers Anathema have decamped to the Islington Academy for 'An Evening With...’, over two hours of unadulterated Anathema. So it comes as no surprise that the majority of the new album is scattered throughout the set, starting with opener 'Thin Air'; right from the off, it is clear that the new material is better live than on record, coming across with a dynamism that is sorely lacking on the flat and overproduced studio product, sounding more like the Anathema of old with the emotionally wrought rock mini-masterpieces and not Coldplay wannabies. It is also clear that a large part of the audience has already downloaded the album as they sing along, not the band say they mind (the label, on the other hand, may have a different view...) But it is one of these new pieces that surprises me in being the highlight of the night, with the storming 'A Simple Mistake' mesmerising me as it builds to a thunderous crescendo.

There are plenty of the old favourites tonight too as the band raid their back catalogue to fill out the set; alongside the usual suspects such as the breakneck ‘Panic’ and a spine-tingling ‘A Natural Disaster’, the Judgement album gets a good airing, as well as a good portion of the much darker Alternative 4. When the power to Danny’s guitar goes down we are treated to an impromptu solo rendition of ‘Are You There?’ in a heroic and exceptionally special moment that has the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. The only representative from the earlier material is a surprising yet welcomed ‘Sleepless’, albeit a mite less heavier than the original studio version; whilst a final salvo of ‘Shroud Of False’ and ‘Fragile Dreams’ perfectly brings to a close what has been a thoroughly enjoyable evening with Anathema.

Thin Air
Forgotten Hopes
Destiny Is Dead
Dreaming Light
Are You There?
Inner Silence
One Last Goodbye
Lost Control
Angels Walk Among Us
A Simple Mistake
A Natural Disaster
Temporary Peace
Shroud Of False
Fragile Dreams

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