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Anathema - Were You There live CD (album) cover



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3 stars actually it's the only video/live stuff available by "non-metal"Anathema..many songs come from the last album "A natural disaster", but there are some pieces from the last three albums as well

it's surely a precious release for fans of the band but some imprecisons and mistakes during the execution keep it from being a masterpiece or a good release to be introducted to the band, and keep me as well from rating it higher

Report this review (#39798)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#86006)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Beautifully shot, moody rock show

A stylish and effective concert video from a show in Krakow covering material from the band's previous three studio albums. Without question this is one of the most beautifully shot live shows you will ever see, it simply glows with a radiance as spectacular as the hues in the sky at dusk. There are no cheater special effects, just very good photography bathed in gorgeous glowing multi-colored lighting. Clear and crisp in one setting or hazy in another as desired by the band. The coolest part is the way they got the various colored lights to melt into the inanimate objects on the stage, and then film them in such a way that the objects/instruments take on a sort of otherworldly appearance, like a modern painting or something. There was no other stage "show" to speak of, just the gorgeous lighting was enough to compliment the music.

The music performed was a mixed bag for me. There are times when Anathema's style of atmospheric tribal electronica would work perfectly, the pulsing beats and bass stretched out below poignant vocals and delightful guitar brushstrokes taking you to near trance. But there are also just as many moments where their material gets perilously close to cookie-cutter for me: the trippy opening followed by the tender vocal and strummed acoustic, proceeding to the semi-metallic thrash portion leading back to part B and then to part A, song over, repeat. They are highly professional and certainly passionate players and I enjoyed the show but I honestly only appreciate about 50% of their material. Thus my recommendation is there for fans certainly, and for anyone who likes bands like Radiohead, Oceansize, or lighter metal with spacey electronic elements. As always, the Pink Floyd comparisons are dodgy at best. Except for the lighting which was every bit as beautiful as what Gilmour just pulled off in "Remember That Night."

Report this review (#161992)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Let's cut to the chase: this dvd is deadly cold and boring.

I saw Anathema live in 2007, and they are the opposite as shown in the DVD. I remember a band deep and emotional, enjoying every single second on stage, with the Cavanagh brothers always moving, headbanging, cheering the crowd, talking. Even in the most intimate moments, in the saddest tracks, the band was acting like at a joyful party. I remember Danny playing One Last Goodbye weaving his arms to the crowd, yelling "let's sing it altogether", while I was at the point of crying. I remember Vincent raw, shaking, nervous, headbanging from Closer (I mean, Closer!!!!) to Fragile Dreams! I had fun, and I cried. A crazy band.

I got this DVD hoping to live the experience again, and what did I find? A band scattered on a large stage, with no contact with the crowd. Silent, quiet, distant. Vincent very shy and moody, calm. Danny aside, focusing on guitar and keyboards. A static act.

The concert is well produced, the sound is great; but the paradox is that this beautiful technical release underlines the technical issues of the band. Vincent's voice is not famous for being perfectly tuned. But in a live situation you can feed with the feeling: here on dvd you just hear a terrible singer humiliating beautiful compositions like One Last Goodbye, or Temporary Peace. The great appearance of Lee Douglas on vocals in few tracks confirms the technical difference between the two singers.

The video and audio quality is very good, the performance itself is very good, but the result is something very far from the live experience that Anathema can give. It's like they were guests in a stranger's house, feeling unconfortable with the surroundings. They were not at home, to take off shoes with their fans and have a good time.

So this IS NOT an Anathema live, in my humble opinion.

Report this review (#231125)
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Review Permalink

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