Anathema, live in London

To celebrate their 25th year together, Anathema play a three hour set full of songs from the back catalogue

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Celebrating twenty-five years as a band, Anathema run the clock backwards on their career tonight with a mammoth retrospective drawing upon their entire oeuvre, beginning with the gothic prog of Distant Satellites and working right back to their early days as the doom band that recorded Serenades.

This musical marathon is split into three sets with a running time of almost three hours and sees former members Duncan Paterson and Darren White temporarily return to the fold.

The combination of the early start – Anathema take the stage at 6.50PM – and sold out crowd means there are people still queuing to enter the venue when the band launches into the eponymous Anathema. While the music is full of melancholy, the mood is buoyant. When they fumble the opening of Untouchable, Dan Cavanagh shrugs it off with a simple, ‘Live music, right?’ and everyone cheers. Anathema can do no wrong this evening.

Set 1

The first set covers the widest chronological period from 2014’s Distant Satellites to 1999’s Judgement, featuring Anathema’s current incarnation– brothers Dan, Vincent and Jamie Cavanagh, vocalist Lee Douglas, John Douglas on electronic percussion, and Daniel Cardoso on drums. The mix never feels fully balanced. Dan’s guitar is strong, but Vincent’s seems buried in the background, which can be disconcerting when he’s rocking out but producing little audible impact. Likewise, John Douglas busily tinkers away on the electronic pads, yet it’s awfully hard to pick out what contribution he’s making sonically.

Lee Douglas impresses when she takes lead vocals during Untouchable Part 2, while A Simple Mistake inspires a bout of headbanging from the younger members of the audience. Wrapping up the opening act with One Last Goodbye, Douglas takes over the drum kit and Cardoso switches to keys, where they remain for the rest of the night.

**Set 2 **

Act two welcomes prodigal son Duncan Paterson, resuming his bass duties as Anathema exhumes tracks from the Alternative 4 and The Silent Enigma albums. The band holds the crowd rapt, a fact that becomes apparent during the quieter moments of Angelica when the lack of background chatter and noise is striking. The centrepiece of this section is the epic Eternity and the music gradually turns heavier as the setlist travels further back into the past. ‘Don’t clap along to this,’ instructs Dan to the faithful before A Dying Wish, ‘you always go too fast.’ While the fans dutifully abstain, the track inspires the first mosh pit of the evening, but not the last.

**Set 3 **

The curtain rises on the third and final act that sees founding member Darren White re-join his old colleagues, transforming Anathema once more into the doomsayers of their youth. ‘Playing sad music always makes me so happy,’ says White, who unleashes his death metal growl in Mine Is Yours To Drown In and Under A Veil. There’s plenty of energy, but the mix doesn’t keep pace with the music. There’s not enough bite to the guitars and the kick drum lacks the punch to hammer home the heaviness. An encore of Sleepless brings the voyage to its final destination and the band bows out to loud applause.

The Verdict

As much as it is fun to hear Anathema return to the roots, if tonight proves anything, it is the refinement of their songwriting across decades and albums. Like Opeth they attract a cross-section of young metal fans and older prog lovers and the challenge going forwards may be to keep both sections of their fanbase engaged. On this evidence, they’ve got that down to a science.

**Set List **

Set 1:


Distant Satellites

Untouchable Part 1

Untouchable Part 2

A Simple Mistake

A Natural Disaster



One Last Goodbye

Set 2:


Shroud Of False

Fragile Dreams


Lost Control


Eternity Part I

Eternity Part II

Eternity Part III

Sunset Of Age

A Dying Wish

Set 3:


Sleep In Sanity


Mine Is Yours To Drown In

Under A Veil

Lovelorn Rhapsody

They Die



After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.