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Anathema - Were You There live CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.35 | 50 ratings

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3 stars This DVD presents Anathema live in Krakow, Poland, January 2004 during the tour for their seventh album, A Natural Disaster. Additionally, a live acoustic performance assisted by a string quartet filmed in the band's hometown of Liverpool, England, a promotional video for the song "Pressure", and live representations of "Release" and "A Natural Disaster", are featured.

The Krakow show is fantastic. Anathema are a powerful live act whose performances are delivered with a high level of energy and passion, and this document captures these aspects very effectively. Certainly, it is no substitute for witnessing the band in person, but it's difficult to imagine the pure emotional charge of the band's live show being captured any better than it is here. There is an honesty, a pure sincerity, that characterizes Anathema's music that also defines the band's stage presence. The material here is delivered in spectacular fashion, and the quality of the sound and visuals is high. The entire set is made up of material from the last three albums, Judgement, A Fine Day To Exit, and A Natural Disaster, which unfortunately means that there is nothing on display from the first four albums released through Peaceville records. As disappointing as this, once the move is made past it, the viewer can accept this for what it is: an excellent live representation of some of the best moments of current-era Anathema.

The live acoustic show is appealing in that it features stripped down Anathema songs backed by a string section which provides the songs with an enhanced quality of elegance. These versions emphasize the root essence of the songs, expressed with a fine delicacy. It is an attractive idea for Anathema to release a studio version of this arrangement, though hopefully with the inclusion of older material such as "Angelica", "Far Away", or "Fragile Dreams", all of which would translate very nicely to this concept.

The video for "Pressure" is interesting in its visualization of the songs theme. Basically, it portrays an ordinary man who is feeling the weight of existential burden crashing down upon hin during a routine day, eventually finding serenity in the ocean's embrace. This is fine, though the individual playing the role of this man could be a bit more convincing, and the overall sequence of events would have benefitted from a little more elaboration and coherence. Otherwise, it works well enough at presenting the idea of the song through visuals. The live videos for "Release" and "A Natural Disaster" are well done if not terribly spectacular, "Release" in particular receiving an added charge through the vitality of the band's delivery.

Were You There? should be of interest to any fan of Anathema, particularly those fond of the last three studio albums. It provides a solid presentation of the band's live show and also reveals the growth the band have undergone since their first video release, 1996's A Vision Of A Dying Embrace. Anathema's music lends itself to visual presentation the likes of which bands such as Pink Floyd realized. This can be a powerful dimension to Anathema's music should they ever reach a level that affords them the opportunity and resources to fully explore it.

bleak | 3/5 |


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