Friday, 27th April 2012
Trix Hall, Antwerpen, Belgium
Wednesday, 28th March 2012
The Garage, London, The UK
Dave Baird's Review (Antwerpen)
First visit to Trix Hall, in fact even after living in Sunny Belgium for 13 years I'd never even heard of the place.
Still, a pleasant medium-sized venue with a good stage, decent PA and staged flooring allowing the audience a reasonable chance of a good view -
shame that the floor clearly hadn't been washed in year though as ones feet were sticking to all the spilt beer...
Promptly at 20:00, Amplifier came on stage and treated us to 50 minutes of what I could best describe as "controlled mayhem".
I have to admit to not knowing a great deal of their music; I'd heard Octopus a couple of times and thought it was OK, but it didn't float-my-boat,
so I never got around to buying it.
I have to say that by the end of their set my appreciation of the band and their particular style of music was turned-around 180°.
In the live setting their music really came to life, grabbed you by the nuts and didn't let go.
Describing music is never an easy task, but I'd say Amplifier sound like a grungier version of Tool with heavier,
grinding riffing and lashes of feedback; drizzled with psychedelia and wrapped in a space-rock wrapper with some Eastern scales to tickle your fancy.
As a live band they're intense, but even to my near-virgin ear the music was extremely accessible and enjoyable.
As support bands go, these were quite an established act and also, to my mind, a bit of a strange choice to support Anathema,
who have turned into a hyper-mellow, chill-prog outfit these recent years.
Nevertheless, the hall was pretty full for their set and they got a good appreciation from the crowd.
Perhaps surprisingly, the band have chosen to play only three songs from their critically acclaimed Octopus album on this tour:
The Wave, Interglacial Spell & Interstellar, but the opening three songs:
Continuum, Panzer & Motorhead were all taken from their eponymous debut CD which,
to the ignorant (i.e. me!) sounds quite similar to the heavier tracks on Octopus, if anything perhaps a bit more accessible to the uninitiated.
The set was closed-out with the track Continuum from The Astronaut Dismantles HAL EP.
As is often the case, my perception of Amplifier was dramatically improved as a result of this show,
and I left the venue some €'s lighter in my wallet, but happily clutching an Octopus Limited Editon 2.0.
In hindsight and now I've had the chance to further checkout the tracks I heard live, I also wished that I had picked-up their other CD's,
but I'll remedy this in due time.
I do think the live setting suits the bands' music very well though and they're a real force to be reckoned with; the intensity washes over you,
wave upon wave of sound, sometimes sweet, sometimes brutal, always demanding your attention.
A great gig, and a lovely bunch of chaps too when we got a short chat afterwards.
After a 25 minute break, Anathema hit the stage, again bang on time.
I thought I had some kind of idea that I knew Anathema,
having been very much into them for the last three albums and also having seen them close-out Loreley last year.
Indeed the bulk of the new album, Weather Systems was played and it was beautiful stuff, played and sang to perfection.
Some of the best from We're Here Because We're Here too - any gig that features Dreaming Light is already a winner in my book,
regardless of the rest of the songs!
But there were three things I was totally unprepared for: the quality of the older, heavier songs,
the band's stage presence and the crowd response they invoked - all three were simply awesome.
I guess it was some naïveté on my behalf that made me think that the capacity crowd had turned-up to hear the more recent songs, but apparently not
- although they were received enthusiastically, it was the older material that seemingly everyone wanted to hear and they went bonkers for it -
I haven't seen such an excited audience in Belgium since Dream Theater played Ancienne Belgique in 1999.
Panic in particular, from A Fine Day to Exit was played at break-neck speed, sounding like The Ramones go PROG!
The hall was packed, hot and smelly with very poor ventilation and it was too much for one lady who apparently fainted at the front,
big kudos to the band who stopped immediately so she could be attended.
The band also passed a lot of water bottles from the stage to the audience and apparently someone at the venue took the hint,
opened a door somewhere and some fresh-air began to flow at last.
After a bit if discussion on where to restart, the band continued from roughly where they had stopped and the crowd,
already very excited were whipped into further frenzy by the whole episode and the band's concern.
Three tracks from Judgement: Deep, Emotional Winter and Wings of God materialised in the middle of the main set,
where as the offerings from A Natural Disaster made-up the first encore. Closer is a a great live track,
always giving Vincent Cavanagh a great chance to play to the crowd with his effects box towards the end of the song.
Title track, A Natural Disaster, gives Lee Douglas the chance to show the crowd her amazing vocal abilities,
and I think this track got the biggest ovation of the night.
The second encore was two tracks from Alternative 4 and Danny Cavanagh took to the keyboards to play the piano parts - it's a very short,
but incredibly uplifting track.
Danny was enjoying himself all night, playing to the crowd on many occasions while Vincent regularly chit-chatted between tracks - often in halting,
but pretty decent Dutch, which endeared him even more to the predominately Flemish audience.
Jamie, seemingly the quieter of the there brothers on bass, likes to keep a relatively anonymous presence at the back of the stage.
The show closed-out with Fragile Dreams and the band left to a huge ovation from a thoroughly satisfied crowd,
Vincent returning one more time to thank the audience, once again, for their support - as well he should too,
because you rarely see such a great rapport between band and the crowd as this, almost symbiotic.
I feel privileged to have witnessed such a fantastic show, aside the (initially) stuffy and smelly venue, this was a perfect night:
great sound, great lighting, great performance, great crowd. The best gig I've been to in years.
Dries Dokter's Review (????)
Anathema Official Website
DPRP's Review of Anathema's "We're Here Because We're Here"