Anathema Live at High Voltage Festival 2011 Review

Anathema on stage at High Voltage

This was the first time that I’d actually seen Anathema in concert despite being a fan of their music for some time; Jamie however had seen them and had been none too impressed by the experience. With myself, as a ‘fan’, we debated their creditability but decided we’d both catch them at High Voltage to settle the debate…

Whilst some bands should only ever be allowed to perform at night, or at least in the relative darkness of a dingy venue, I feel Anathema are actually quite well suited to the daylight. Strange as this might seem, their atmospheric and ethereal avant-garde rock isn’t wholly melancholic (such as fellow sometime-doom-bands My Dying Bride and Katatonia) and they’ve actually a few songs that will raise a smile.

Opening with ‘Thin Air’, ‘Summernight Horizon’ and ‘Dreaming Light’ from the 2010 album ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ the crowd swayed and sung along to a truly spellbinding start. I’m not big on bands that plum predominantly ‘new’ material in festival environments as it stands to reason that you’re going to have a few veteran fans in attendance, even if just curiously passing by… but I’m sure few will be concerned owing to the strength of the aforementioned songs.

Anathema on the prog stage at High Voltage
Anathema: Progtastic

Following this, the mesmerising ‘A Natural Disaster’, sung along by a large ensemble of happy attendees led into the equally inspring ‘Closer’, both from the ‘A Natural Disaster’ album (which is probably my favourite of their work).

Now, it has to be said that, personally, despite the greatness of much of the set, I felt at times that the band wavered ever so slightly… Whether this was actually the case or that the event coincided with the beer kicking in will probably remain a mystery. The band were tight, fluid and most definitely enjoying themselves; in many ways, it’s somewhat picky of me to try and find fault with it…

They closed off with ‘Universal’, another track from the ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’ album and again the crowd seemed to enjoy the afternoon’s soundtrack. None seemed too chuffed when Vincent (Cavanagh) declared to Stage Management that they “5 minutes left… can we do another one?” and they were clearly instructed not to. And I have to say, I was actually hoping they’d have been allowed to play for another 20 minutes…

Not the most energetic and inspiring performance I’ve seen at a festival, but as I’ve nothing against which to compare their performances elsewhere, I can’t say I was disappointed. An enjoyable time, much singing along and definitely a worth-while experience.

I even think old Jamie enjoyed himself



~ Thin Air
~ Summernight Horizon
~ Dreaming Light
~ A Natural Disaster
~ Closer
~ Universal

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