Foto: Sadan Ekdemir

Dim lights and the beautiful artwork from their ‘A fine day to exit’ album shines on display behind the stage. As the image slowly fades into a scene with a car driving into the night, the song ‘San Francisco’ begins to play. We see Vincent Cavanagh on stage, although he’s trying to hide himself behind the keyboard. As the rest of the band starts to take their spots on stage slowly, Daniel Cavanagh walks towards the crowd, with his headset and sunglasses on. All calm and steady, ready for the show. After 3 years, Anathema was back in Oslo, at Rockefeller on November 5th, with the support of the French band Alcest.

Being on the rock and metal scene for nearly 30 years and having their style changed throughout their career, from black/ambient metal into today’s progressive sound, Anathema manages to master their sound and keep the sincere spirit throughout their discography.

After the instrumental intro song, ‘San Francisco’, the band started playing Untouchable Part I and II. Vincent’s fragile cold voice was swirling in the hall, and lovely back vocals blending so well together. Low lights, shuffling between different shades of red and blue waving on the stage and on us. As he starts to scream ‘I never betrayed your trust’, the audience starts to move around and cheer up for the Liverpool band. What came afterwards was a fast paced gem from the new album, ‘Can’t let go’. The car in display keeps driving into the night, but the band and the crowd are far more cheerful than the beginning. The sublime charisma and passion of the Cavanagh brothers helped to carry out the mood from the stage onto the audience as well. Continuing with hits from the last album, ‘Endless ways’ came to slow down mood a bit, at first. Lee Douglas’ vocals were stunning, and adding so much into the feeling of the Anathema sound by filling the entire hall with her timid voice.

Just before playing one of the best songs from the latest album with its ironic title ‘The Optimist’, Daniel, talked with the audience: “Hey Oslo, are you happy? Well, we like to be miserable”, he said and chuckled. Right after ‘The Optimist’, Vincent decided to interact more with the audience and shared a personal story, including the fact that he used to live with a Norwegian flatmate before and he knew about Aquavit! Even that they toured with the black metal band Mayhem back in 1999, when they were “heavy as fuck” in Vincent’s words. After the short monologue, the band continued with ‘The Lost Song, Part III’ with quite captivating irregular beats that locks you to the song and won’t let you do anything else but listen to it.

Anathema continued with playing ‘Barriers’, ‘Deep’ and ‘Thin air’. Although they were pretty agile and joyful on stage, the audience started to become more and more still, so Vincent had to ask them if everything was ok, and why they wouldn’t cheer up. Even though Norwegians have a tendency to be less expressive with the absence of alcohol on a Sunday night his attempt actually worked, got a huge shout out and applause and continued with ‘A Simple Mistake’ and closed off with ‘Closer’.

It wasn’t the end, of course. They got back to play couple of more songs including an amazing drum solo and a surprising Pink Floyd cover, ‘See Emily Play’. While playing that, they asked for turning off the lights on stage, entirely, and asked audience to turn up the mobiles and use the flashlight for the ambience. Personally, I didn’t find it very attractive as I’d rather like to enjoy the show and not use the phone for any reason. The closure was with a predictable one, one of the best songs they have ever made, ‘Fragile dreams’.

It was amazing to see the band has improved and progressed so much over the years. The last sentence Vincent said at the end: ‘All you need is love’ was maybe the best thing to say in today’s world with rising tension day by day. The only thing I missed was that I so wished hear ‘Angelica’ live, but that did not happen. The first ‘metal band’ t-shirt I’ve ever bought was Anathema’s. Back in 1996, feeling all the teenage moods, slowly realising the burden of life on my shoulders, their Eternity album meant a lot to me. Anathema is a special band for me and Sunday night's concert was a lovely night to remember, maybe even ‘a fine day to exit’ from the moment, a nostalgic tour to my adolescence years.