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Anathema, live at Liverpool Cathedral

Support: Anna Phoebe

Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral cuts an imposing silhouette on the skyline, a tantalising edifice soon to host the final date of Anathema’s brief acoustic tour, no less an auspicious occasion than their sold out hometown show. Once inside the architecture has to be seen to be believed, so vast is the dramatically detailed masonry that arcs gracefully ever upwards, disappearing into darkness. The stage is dwarfed, standing before a gloriously intricate golden altar. One wonders how violinist Anna Phoebe and Guitarist Nicholas Rizzi [8] can possibly create a sound that will fill such a space, yet they captivate with a relentless performance, virtuoso Phoebe a whirlwind of charisma, Rizzi a stoic anchor around which she careens as the two cast eloquently intricate instrumental spells.

Anathema [9] emerge as a trio, the brothers Cavanagh and Lee Douglas stirring the cameras that surround them to life, tonight’s events filmed by visual artist Lasse Hoile. A nervous start threatens to derail delicate renditions of Untouchable Parts 1 & 2, before guitarist/songwriter Danny insists on a retake. Humble and good-naturedly apologetic, no-one minds, and the band hit their stride. Ever the maestro, he obsesses over the finest details; at times it’s distracting. Several songs in the full band join for eponymous track Anathema, unleashing the full power of Vincent’s lead vocal as he arches backwards to stare with wonder at the space above.

They never look back, delivering a greatest hits set of latter day material. A Natural Disaster shines in the reflected starlight of two twirling mirror balls, enveloping all within a mesmeric cosmos, outshone only by the beacon of light that is Lee Douglas’ voice, her defining moment of the night. The reverb unleashed during Distant Satellites echoes forever in the chasm, joined by the audience’s thunderous clapping, the sound of a thousand spirits chattering mischievously from their hiding places. The atmosphere is pure magic. Spellbound, Vincent frequently removes his ear monitors to fully immerse himself, unlike instrument-absorbed Danny, who eventually catches sight of the altar behind him. “That looks nice doesn’t it?” he says understatedly, to much laughter. Tonight is ultimately a celebration of family. Ever a key aspect of the band, the front row is lined with loved ones. Every other song is dedicated to one of them, but their emotive power extends to embrace the entire audience within a once in a lifetime experience that words can barely do justice.

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Setlist

The Lost Song, Part 2 Untouchable, Part 1 Untouchable, Part 2 Untouchable, Part 1 (retake) Thin Air Dreaming Light Anathema Ariel Electricity Temporary Peace The Beginning And The End Distant Satellites Take Shelter Internal Landscapes A Natural Disaster Fragile Dreams