Live review: Anathema + Anubis @ Metro Theatre, Sydney – 22 August 2014
When I arrived at the Metro Theatre I immediately kicked myself for not checking the set times – Sydney support act Anubis were already well into their set. I had eagerly anticipated seeing the hometown prog heroes perform their biggest show to date in front of the perfect crowd. I was thankfully rewarded by the sight of a nearly full Metro lost in awe of the six-piece outfit’s impeccable sound and captivating blend of moody, enchanting progressive rock. The cheers and enthusiastic applause (as well as some later activity at the merch desk) proved that the band went down a treat. Tardiness notwithstanding, it was exciting to see a band with such promise and a long gestation finally get the chance to showcase themselves in front of a receptive crowd.
During the changeover I took stock of my surroundings – the stage was nearly full with UK act Anathema’s set up – keyboards abounded, several vocal mics and a full percussion rig alongside the drum kit. Turning behind me, a sea of people crowded the Metro Theatre stands right to the back. It was almost unbelievable that a band such as this could draw such a huge audience. Admittedly, they’ve been around 20 years and this is their first ever Australian tour – but Australia is not commonly known for supporting much in the way of prog outside of the classics (Yes, Jethro Tull, Zappa) or the heavyweights (Dream Theater, Opeth). It was fantastic.
The regard in which these fans hold Anathema was clear within seconds – from the moment the band walked on stage and leapt into ‘Untouchable’ the crowd went nuts. The important of the moment wasn’t lost on the band either, with singer Vincent Cavanagh remarking that he’d dreamed of being in Sydney since childhood. Although the band didn’t quite generate the same singalong fervor that one would find in Europe, by the end of the night the crowd had stepped it up. The band were rewarded by a mix of fans, young and old, who stayed with them right through a set that covered all facets of their sound. Whilst not as technically challenging as some of their peers, Anathema excel at the art of creating a mood and imparting that to their audience in a live setting. In the moment, they command attention and are flawlessly tight. ‘One Last Goodbye’ and ‘Fragile Dreams’ were the perfect way to end a two-hour evening of melodic and well-crafted tunes by a band at the peak of their powers. Let’s hope they come back again and continue to spread the message that great music communicates anywhere in the world.