Review: Jason Spencer
Thoughts: Anathema continues to amaze me in a myriad of ways, all while giving the middle finger to those that say they aren't "prog enough". Give me a break. This recently revolutionized group is now upbeat, dark, and profound all at the same time. I think one word describes their tone now: HOPE. And that is exactly what you will experience on this new DVD from Anathema.
This special night lasted over two hours, and was filmed in a spectacular venue in Bulgaria. That's not the important information, though. The vital thing to realize about this concert is that these guys play their hearts out like no other band I've seen in some time. The air is thick; yes, even dense, with the fog, the emotion, the melody, and the beauty. The band plays a plethora of tracks mainly from their last few releases, of which I consider Weather Systems (2012) to be the greatest. Every song sounds wonderful, and the production is flawless. I also must not forget to mention the accompanying orchestra that is playing behind them. That's right, the beautiful strings on Anathema's albums come to life with soaring violin work that weaves in and out of Daniel's soulful guitar work.
The band plays just about every track I wanted to hear, except 'The Lost Child'. I really can't complain, though, as most of the songs they play are superior to their respective album versions. For me, the towering achievement on this DVD is A Simple Mistake. This performance is utterly sublime, and the heights that Vincent reaches towards the end are more than impressive. My jaw was hanging open literally. But, it was for most of the show.
I feel that each and every musician here put on an amazing show. Vincent's vocals are sublime, and also supremely difficult. It shows, but he pulls it off remarkably well, especially after singing for two hours. The female vocalist, Lee, is on her game, although I will say that it took her a little while to warm her voice. However, she nails some really difficult parts with ease, and you can see her smile knowingly. Daniel's guitars are flawless and his relationship with the crowd perfect, and Daniel Cardoso's keys are unbelievably still separate from the orchestra's sound. There are just so many layers that can be heard that it takes your breath away sometimes. John also gives a incredibly strong performance on drums, which I might add are mixed perfectly. Lastly, Jamie's bass lines lay a foundation for everything else. Seriously, they all build off of his strong bass.
Indeed, Universal (2013) is something special. I love the part where they have the crowd all take out their cell phones, hence the front picture on the DVD. I was sceptical that it would work, but it ends up looking ethereal. Speaking of the package, the DVD comes with an audio CD of the concert, minus some songs. Both discs come in a beautiful digipak that I feel is pretty special with its wonderful design and the stunning photography---a wonderful package for a very special night. I think this DVD is essential not only for every Anathema fan, but for every prog fan and every fan of excellent music. It's an amazing show, and shouldn't be missed. Seriously.
The band was included in our Podcast #3 and you can listen the track 'Untouchables Part 1' HERE.