Liverpool is a city that always gets behind its own and, let’s be honest, can sometimes get a bit
overexcited about it. Think recent examples of Paul McCartney or X Factor runner up Rebecca
Ferguson. The concept of ‘coming home’ to this city after major success is about as OTT as it
So, it was refreshing to be back among the city’s small but faithful metal community, gathered
at The Cavern on Tuesday night to see Anathema, surely one of our most underrated local
musical treasures, in their first full Liverpool gig since 1996. It is a community that is never
knowingly overwhelmed. Why gush, when you can take the piss? Nevertheless, those present
for the sell out gig wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
“Wonder why they chose this venue?” I pondered, in the company of a certain diminutive barfly
from The Swan.
“Arrrr, they’re just bein’ PRETENTIOUS aren’t thee,” he slurred with a laugh. I shifted my
weight to unstick each foot from the grimy floor, gulped some of my near undrinkable draught
lager and contemplated his standards. “Probably just want a brick outside,” he added.
Most were still greatly amused by the fact the band had been on the Billy Butler show the day
before – secretly proud to see, finally, some of the hometown recognition that has been so long
Anathema, or Ginger Floyd as they’re comically nicknamed by local fans thanks to their
penchant for psychedelic rock and the flowing red curls of the three brothers at the heart of the
band, are successful around the world – but until now (despite forming in 1990), they have not
made a dent in the musical history of this city. This is nothing short of criminal.
For the uninititiated, when they formed as teens, doom metal was their stock in trade and they
went on to become one of the giants of the genre alongside Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.
Over the decades, they have mellowed and matured and The Cavern proved to be a very
decent venue for them. If the stage was a bit small for all six of the band, they were rewarded
with a very clean, very clear sound that complemented them well.
Starting with a variety of tracks from this year’s album We’re Here Because We’re Here, they
stand out being – unsurprisingly – the sublime Dreaming Light. It took a while for them to begin
to purge their back catalogue, but when they did, it made for something very special.
In frontman Vinny Cavanagh, Anathema has one of the most distinctive and simply beautiful
vocalists around. Mid-gig, an acoustic interlude saw guitarist and brother Danny perform
Electricity, before being joined by female vocalist Lee Douglas for oldie Parisienne Moonlight. Although only utilised for less than half of their live material, Lee’s voice really completes the
A smattering of songs like Fragile Dreams, Lost Control and Empty from what was probably
their best known album, Alternative 4, went down well. We even got Sleepless, one of their old,
old tracks from their definitive doom days. By contrast, the tearjerking One Last Goodbye could
make the most hardened metaller cry like a baby.
An encore of their signature cover, Comfortably Numb, and The Beatles’ Twist and Shout,
showcased their abilities perfectly. Live, Anathema can take the audience on a journey (check),
smash it out of the park (check) and really make a song their own (check). Genius (check).