Anathema LIVE @ The Garage, Highbury & Islington

The post-progressive British label Kscope was celebrating its 5th anniversary in style last week by putting on two nights of music; showcasing four of their best acts each time at The Garage in Highbury & Islington. The Garage is one of those small venues where no matter where you’re standing, you’re bound to feel close to the stage.

An eclectic crowd flocked under the nurturing arched ceiling as the doors of The Garage opened. Everyone heading pretty much straight to the bar.  A few 20-somethings were chatting with their arms crossed, a lot of 30 year-olds wearing Anathema T-shirts queuing up for drinks as well as many 40-year-old men, beer in hand, enthusiastically waiting for the show to start. When Leafblade and a very humble yet overjoyed Danny Cavanaugh from Anathema got on the stage to give a very intimate performance, people gathered around the stage to listen to the band’s enchanting and mystical acoustic melodies as more people came in and the audience got bigger and bigger.

Next up, a quartet from London that completely rocked the stage. The guys from Mothlite performed as if in complete artistic trance: moving their bodies to the rhythm of their modern-80’s-tribal-rebirth sound. Transforming the venue into this magical cave with ornate with neon lights in the middle of an enchanted forest. Drums, synths, keyboards, smoke effects together with the front man’s shrilling mesmerizing voice even got this lovely 40-year old metal-head dancing like a madman in the audience.

Most people had a lovely energy about them and I remember some really nice chats sparking alongside cigarettes in the sardine-tin-esque smoking area at the front of the venue.  A group of people who flew from Valencia, Spain especially to see North Atlantic Oscillations perform told me that they were definitely ones to watch and that they were amazing to see live. They were also very passionate about the label “ My favourite is North Atlantic Oscillation but Kscope is also a really good label all the artists they represent are very good” he told me. I have to admit that I didn’t know them too well before but after seeing them perform I had to become a fan.

As we got back inside, Toby, who accompanied me to the gig, was telling me that a ‘couchsurfer’ he met in Austria was a fervent admirer of Anathema and followed them to every venue they performed at ever since he discovered them. Looking at people come in like excited teenagers with massive smiles on their faces you could sort of see the cult appeal that this band had on people. The bar stopped serving draught beer because of the boiling temperature the venue had reached but Anathema was welcomed on stage with a roaring ovation. Two big lads standing in front of us in the crowd were holding each other by the arm completely ecstatic. “ We love you Danny” shouted one of them.

The band started performing “Untouchable” and the crowd who was looking a bit rough and tough beforehand turned into a bunch of big softies. There was some hugging, people raising their hands in the air and signing the refrain together with the band.  It was wonderful to see how passionate were, how every single words of the song meant so much and how Anathema’s music accompanied them through the hardships of their lives. It was like a bloody sauna in there by then yet everyone was senselessly clapping their hands together and feeding more and more energy to the band.  The rendition of each song better than the next: the band played some of their most popular hits including “Closer” that they played towards the end of the show was my personal favourite. Anathema was in contact with the public and everyone was clapping as hard as ever despite the heath. What a wonderful energy!

There was a really positive vibe about the place and everyone was in a celebratory mood. Bravo Kscope for this wonderful celebration of acoustics, shoegazing, head-banging and wonderful discoveries it was an extremely hot birthday celebration!

Sophie Adam