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Anathema - 'A Sort Of Homecoming' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     February 15, 2016    
 
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An excellent 2CD/DVD representation of the band thriving in the stripped down format.

Recorded on the home leg of Anathema's acoustic tour at the impressive Liverpool Cathedral earlier this year, 'A Sort Of Homecoming' is an excellent 2CD/DVD representation of the band thriving in the stripped down format. The group have had a fluid line-up since their formation as the Doom Metal band Pagan Angel in 1990 and are currently a five-piece from just two families that includes bassist Jamie Cavanagh, drummer John Douglas and his singing sister Lee, but singer/guitarist Vincent Cavanagh and his other brother Daniel (guitars/keys/vocals) are the only ever presents in this performance, with others joining in when required.

On this kind of occasion there is nowhere for the musicians to hide, the natural acoustics of the cathedral and the reverent silence of their home crowd would show up any mistakes, if there were any. Mastermind Daniel Cavanagh is an accomplished acoustic guitarist and keyboard player (their additional keyboardist/drummer Daniel Cardoso was strangely not involved in this show) and adds layers of guitar and makeshift percussion to the sparser songs by using loops, but it's main singers Vincent Cavanagh and especially Lee Douglas who bless this performance with their note perfect voices. Personally, I think Lee Douglas is an immense talent who adds a rare beauty to ethereal songs like opener 'The Lost Song (Part 2)', 'Untouchable' (Parts 1 & 2) and the wonderful 'A Natural Disaster', but even though she doesn't sing on everything, Vincent Cavanagh also does a great job on closer 'Fragile Dreams', 'Anathema' and many others.

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The band hit their stride when they're joined by drums, bass and guest cellist David Wesling, while violinist Anne Phoebe is simply spellbinding during her sole guest spot on 'Anathema', adding a real sense of drama to the occasion. A hefty portion of their recent 'Distant Satellites' album and its predecessor 'Weather Systems' makes for a suitable set-list for the acoustic format, and even though it's a long and mostly sedate listen, if you play both discs back to back, the performance and crystal-clear sound more than make up for that.

If you buy the version with the DVD (or the stand-alone Blu-Ray) I would suggest that you'll probably watch the footage more than you listen to the CD's, and while it's well shot with lots of sharp close-ups, the lack of lighting in the cathedral means that, apart from the long shots from the back, it could have been recorded at any venue and the results would have been basically the same. There's an impressive bit in 'A Natural Disaster' where the crowd are asked to illuminate their mobile phones, along with the band's own swirling lights, but on the whole the lights weren't bright enough to make for a spectacle worthy of the surroundings. However, the 5.1 mix by the Pineapple Thief's Bruce Soord is simply stunning and makes the package a must for any fan.

Phil Ashcroft

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