One of the England’s finest rock bands, Anathema, passed through Baltimore, and we were lucky enough to be one of only six selected US cities chosen for their world tour promoting their new album, The Optimist. It was quite possibly the best show I’ve seen all year. Anathema’s sound is unique progressive rock, but that actually wasn’t the case for this band in the beginning. Starting out as a death/doom metal band, Anathema then changed to gothic metal for their 1996 Eternity album. By 2001 though, their sound had completely changed to alternative/progressive rock, but not as hard as a Fates Warning or Dream Theater. Led by brothers Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh on vocals and guitar respectfully, Anathema also has another pair of siblings in the band: John Douglas on keyboards and sister Lee on vocals. Jamie Cavanagh, the third brother, plays bass and Daniel Cardoso rounds it out on drums.
The instrumental “San Francisco” led the evening off while the band made their way to the stage. Soon they picked up their instruments started playing “Untouchable 1” and “Untouchable 2” back to back. I just stood there with my mouth open basically in awe of this band. “Thin Air” was up next from 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here and the precision on this song was just incredible to watch live. “Endless Ways” and “The Optimist” were next and were the only two new songs that the band played off of the new album, choosing instead to dig deep and play a collection of hits from their extensive catalog. “Universal,” “Lightning Song,” “Closer,” and “Distant Satellites” all followed soon along with many others. Lee Douglas, who compliments Vincent on select songs, has one of the best vocals I have ever heard, period. Her voice is just magical with this band. “Fragile Dreams” from 1998’s Alternative 4 album ended the evening, and then a hopeful promise to the crowd was given by Vincent that they will be touring the US extensively next year. I do hope this happens.
If you go on YouTube, you can watch this band playing huge outdoor amphitheaters, special concerts with orchestras, and even some amazing cathedrals, so seeing them in a tiny club just does not happen, yet here they were, and it was truly an amazing experience I will never forget. If you missed your opportunity to see this band play here or the other eight dates in North America, you missed an excellent performance by and incredible band.
Anathema @ Baltimore Soundstage 8/16/17