In 2006, Anathema played a headline set at Poland’s prestigious Metal Mania festival in Katowice. A favoured place to record live shows, the band’s set was recorded and is reproduced on this excellent DVD along with various bonus tracks, interviews, a section offering computer wallpaper and a photo gallery.
Drawing heavily from ‘A natural disaster’, Anathema turn in a set list rife with emotion and melody, yet heavy enough to satisfy the hordes of metal-heads who had descended upon Katowice that day (many of whom knew the words to every song) and the resultant DVD is yet another triumph in Anathema’s ever expanding list of essential releases. Joined by the Bacchus String Quartet, rather than rely upon pre-recorded backing tracks, the music has added depth, helping to make this a very special show indeed.
Opening with a couplet from 1998’s groundbreaking ‘Alternative 4’ set (‘Shroud of false’ and ‘Fragile dreams’), the band are on top form, with ‘Fragile dreams’ sounding particularly biting in a live setting. ‘Balance’ and ‘Closer’ follow, which, while separate tracks, sound like one long prog-metal jam, with beautifully orchestrated passages of melody giving way to punishing guitar and drums. The melancholic ‘Lost control’ follows before the band burst into a relentlessly savage ‘Empty’ with Vince spitting the lyrics ‘you’d better watch your back’ with particular venom.
After the pounding of ‘Empty’, the band are joined by the lovely Lee Douglas for ‘A natural disaster’ which is truly enhanced by the live string arrangement and the respect the crowd have for Lee’s beautifully soulful voice. ‘Inner silence’ is a short prelude to ‘One last goodbye’ which reaches new heights of poignancy when Vince moves away from the microphone to reveal the entire crowd singing the chorus. It is a special moment for audience and crowd alike, and you can see that the band are genuinely moved by the love pouring from the crowd. Topping such a moment is nigh on impossible, but the band rise capably to the task with solid renditions of ‘Flying’, ‘Panic’ and ‘Angelica’ before ending on a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably numb’. Strangely, although a powerful performance, it is a slight anti-climax given the awesomely powerful material that has preceded it, and (if we’re honest) no-one can really match up the ethereal majesty of the Floyd themselves playing this timeless classic.
Extra features are reasonable, but nothing special, with some extra tracks filmed in Poland and a short documentary, both of which round out the package nicely but hardly set the world on fire.
In the final analysis this is a well-produced and perfectly filmed reminder of a very special concert. Considering Anathema’s continuing development, it is highly unlikely that we’ll see them perform in this manner again and so this DVD stands as another step in the evolution of this remarkable band. Powerful, emotional and frequently beautiful, this is an excellent DVD from a very special band.