Anathema / Alcest http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/8a/23/96/Anathema-Band-Live-68-1509631389.jpg

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Anathema / Alcest - The Garage, Glasgow (UK) - 22 September 2017

This is my first live review for Rocktopia and what a gig to start with. French support band Alsace went down well with the sold out Garage audience, but to be honest they were not to my taste. Musically they were sound but many songs had liberal amounts of growling vocals which I really struggle with.

Technical issues prevented Anathema from hitting the stage at the designated time, but after around twenty minutes the band eventually arrived to the sounds of 'San Francisco' from new album 'The Optimist' and a very enthusiastic welcome from the Glasgow crowd. The downside to the delay was that the venue has a ten o'clock curfew which meant that they had to drop a couple of songs from their set-list. The band made light of their initial sound problems and constantly engaged the audience in light hearted banter throughout the gig. They also used a screen at the rear of the stage on which moving and still images were projected which complimented the music perfectly. Also noticeable were the interchanges between John Douglas (who began on percussion) and keyboard player Daniel Cardoso (who started on drums) before they reverted to norm after a few numbers.

The songs themselves featured a good mix of older material alongside tracks from the new album which were received extremely well. 'Untouchable Parts 1 & 2' kicked things off with aplomb and the songs were welcomed like long lost friends. We then were treated to 'Leaving It Behind', 'Endless Ways', 'Thin Air', 'Dreaming Light', 'Can't Let Go' and then my favourite on the night, 'The Beginning And The End' from 'Weather Systems', which was majestic. It was great to hear the new material live for the first time and the band received a huge cheer when Danny Cavanagh announced that 'The Optimist' was recorded in Glasgow. They then finished with 'Closer', which although not my favourite song, was performed very energetically.

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They returned to the stage for three encores. 'Distant Satellites' from the album of the same name was up first. The song soared from start to finish and reached its climax when Vincent Cavanagh joined Douglas and Cardoso on percussion. This was an utterly stunning performance. 'Springfield' followed and the night was rounded off with old favourite 'Fragile Dreams' which was preceded by Danny Cavanagh playing the guitar intro from 'Wish You Were Here'.

A major factor in Anathema's appeal is the balance between Vincent Cavanagh's and Lee Douglas's vocals. Lee Douglas is used more often these days and her voice lifts the band's music to another level. Both lead vocalists were on top form tonight.

It was a wonderful evening in the presence of a wonderful band and I am so lucky to be going to Prague to see them again later in October. The night summed up perfectly by Danny Cavanagh in his adopted Glaswegian accent, "That was pure brilliant, by the way".

Robin McGhie

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