Anathema, 2015

Last night, most people were out and about, kicking on with Halloween celebrations. I myself was invited to two different parties. But I didn’t go to either of them, and for me Halloween was a definite afterthought. On any other year, I’d have been out partying with the rest of them. But this year was different. This year, I spent Halloween with the members of Anathema.

For those of you who don’t know (and I assume most of you won’t) Anathema is a death/doom metal turned progressive rock band that my best friend introduced me to a year or two ago. They have since become one of my favourite bands and so when they announced an acoustic tour earlier this year, I jumped straight on and secured myself a ticket. The night kicked off with a VIP meet and greet with vocalist and guitarist, Vincent Cavanagh and female vocalist, Lee Douglas. They were lovely and accommodating and signed a bunch of stuff. Once that was out of the way, we were allowed in to the stage.

The support act was a guy called Mark, who sang and played guitar with a female singer and a beautiful redhead cellist. I confess, I spent almost the entire set watching her, a) because she was right in front of me, b) because the cello is a hauntingly beautiful instrument and she played it flawlessly and c) because she was delicate and dainty and absolutely fucking stunning. I wanted to marry her a little bit, I’m not going to lie.

When they left and the curtain closed to allow Anathema to set up, I hung out at the stage with a few people I’d met that night. We’d kind of formed a little group I guess, strangers joined by the love of a band. A Russian girl, a German woman, an English woman and myself. Sounds like the punchline of a bad joke, huh? But socially awkward little Amy managed to not make too much of a fool of herself.

And then it was time. I cannot describe to you the emotions that were running through me. Being an acoustic gig, it was just Vincent, Lee, and Daniel Cavanagh (guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist) but it was absolutely sensational. The acoustic nature of the performance made it more intimate, I thought, and I was able to properly immerse myself in the spectacular performance. Lee’s vocals were simultaneously haunting and powerfully evocative. Daniel informed us at one point that she had won best female singer in the UK three years in a row, and seeing her on stage, it was easy to see why. She effortlessly projected volume and hit notes that gave me goosebumps. It was a thing of beauty.

Vincent similarly gave a powerful vocal performance. He has that same ability to give me goosebumps, and the emotion in his voice was even more awesome to hear live. And I was endlessly fascinated by his guitar playing. The beauty of the acoustic set was that I was able to properly hear all the instrumental genius, as well as the vocals, and it was an aurally stunning performance.

Daniel was directly in front of me for most of the show, and like I had with his brother, I found myself watching his hands on the guitar. Entirely self taught (as he later told me) his ability to play multiple instruments blew me away. There are simply no words to describe what an affecting performance they all gave last night, and my only regret is that my best friend wasn’t there with me to share in the wonder and beauty of it. They were all very engaging too, and between the banter tossed back and forth on stage, and the little jokes and comments at the crowd, it really felt like we were a part of something wonderful. It was…incredible.

When the show was over, we got a chance to speak to Daniel, as he hadn’t been at the earlier session. We talked about how he’d taught himself to play instruments as a kid, how he always knew music is what he was going to do. When I left, he kissed my cheek, gave me a hug and wished me happy birthday. I could not think of a greater way to ring in turning twenty three, than to watch and meet one of the most amazing bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of loving.

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