Anathema have had a love affair with the French for some time and this show in Reims marked the first of seven gigs that the band will undertake in the next five weeks to support their album ‘The Optimist’.
Keeping in line with their love of all things French, the band hailing from Liverpool have brought Parisians Alcest on board for ample support. Now describing a band as being hypotonic and mesmerizing is so cliché but Alcest demand your attention. They play just seven songs, but when your average number lasts 10 minutes then that’s a lot of time afforded to a support band.
Alcest are into the 9th show of a 50 date European tour and singer Neige commands the attention of the audience here to see Anathema. He rarely speaks, smiles a little but raises a cheer from the crowd when he says, ‘we have spent the week in England but we are so happy to be back in France’. The band open up with Kodama the name of their 2016 album and whilst Neige comes across as a subtle musician his band mates, hair down to their backsides, thrash out and surprisingly Alcest in turn are much heavier than you would initially think.
They finish their bewildering set with Delivrance, with band members departing long before the song comes to a close and Neige bending by the PA, feedback and taped recordings wailing out. Alcest made their statement and surprised many in the packed venue.
We had to wait until just after 10pm to witness Anathema, as a long intro just teased fans before finally they made their entrance and went on to play a 90 minute set. They open up with San Francisco and follow on with Untouchable Part 1 and 2. The reception is magnificent and warm and it helps that lead singer Daniel Cavangah addresses the crowd in French.
One third of the set list is made up from new album The Optmist as the band are happy to dip into classics. Lee Douglas helping out on vocals gives an enchanting performance and really lends her voice to the music of the band.
It’s not always been easy to categorize Anathema’s music, because you can’t just put the bands work down to one specific piece of genre. However with a full cinema screen latching onto the back of the stage and enlightening us with bold images, mostly planted in outer space you can be forgiven for thinking that Anathema have been heavily influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd. It’s no surprise then when the band for their final song, tack on the intro to Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
Anathema’s European tour runs through until December