Main Act: Anathema
Support Acts: North Atlantic Oscillation, Mothlite & Leafblade
Another gig, another evening drenched in sweat. I moaned about the poor ventilation at the Garage in Highbury and Islington when I was there ten days ago for Wintersun’s much-anticipated performance and the memory was still vivid in my mind as I approached the venue last night.
Following a thoroughly enjoyable interview with Anathema’s Danny Cavanagh, I rushed for the first band to start Kscope’s 5 Year celebration bash, Leafblade – an acoustic guitar focused outfit led by Sean Jude, whose latest album has been the product of a collaboration between him and Danny.
Even though Leafblade hit the stage at around ten past seven (the venue was more or less half full), the same unbearable heat was already upon us. Sean Jude’s newly acquired guitar strings were losing their tuning every other song and Danny’s acoustic guitar did let him down at key moments – still, the performance was professional, emotional and commanding in equal terms.
Focusing on material from the band’s recent album “The Kiss Of Spirit and Flesh”, compositions such as “Beneath A Woodland Moon”, “Thirteen” and “Bethlehem” won most of us over with their warmth, propelling many people to visit Kscope’s well equipped merchandise stand moments after the band’s impressive performance had ended.
If the band Mothlite means nothing to the most avant-garde among you, then the name Daniel O’Sullivan should, as the London-based composer and multi-instrumentalist has dipped his artistic fingers in various interesting and unusual projects over the years with Ulver and Sunn O))) being the most prominent among them.
Mothlite are more of a ‘sound’ than a ‘riff’ orientated outfit, with computer samples and keyboard looped themes dominating the show. Positioned at the very centre of a stage and towering behind two mic stands, O’Sullivan strikes an imposing figure, producing high pitch vocals and twisting his body with flair, reminiscent of David Bowie in his prime. Though not the easiest music to digest for the uninitiated, highly experimental compositions like “The Blood” left our curiosity piqued.
North Atlantic Oscillation is not only a “phenomenon which describes the fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level between the Icelandic low and the Azores high” (thanks, Wikipedia!!), but also an experimental outfit from Glasgow and it is the latter that we will be focusing on today. It may be true that the band’s music has been described by many as a fine mix between Mogwai and The Flaming Lips, but those of us with a more extreme Metal background can also detect influences from (or at least similarities with) bands like Cynic, especially in the way Sam Healy approaches his vocal performances.
Featuring a powerhouse of a drummer in Ben Martin, the vast majority of the compositions performed was from last year’s “Fog Electric”; still, the one song that truly captured my attention was “77 Hours” from the band’s 2010 full length “Grappling Hooks”. Here, the band’s apparent respect and appreciation towards Pink Floyd truly comes to the surface, so it was not surprising at all to find the band on the receiving end of a decent round of applause after they had finished playing it.
Anathema have been consistently creating top quality music since their inception back in 1990, however, it is their relatively(?) recent transformation into an Alternative/Progressive Rock powerhouse that has won them massive media attention, so it was not at all surprising to find their set revolving around the band’s latest Kscope-sponsored releases.
“Thin Air” opened their set in truly bombastic fashion, with keyboardist Daniel Cardoso quite successfully taking on the drumming tasks for the show. Following a false start which was greeted with huge grins from the band and the fans alike, the full-capacity, sweat-drenched audience was treated to killer renditions of the now classics “Untouchable” parts 1 & 2 and by the time the last note of “Dreaming Light” was performed there was not a single doubt in anyone’s mind that in Anathema, Kscope have found their undisputed champions.
Dedications and congratulations were offered in abundance, not only towards the label but also to past members (Duncan Patterson) and newly acquired friends (Jonas Renkse of Katatonia fame), all adding to the friendly atmosphere. Though highlights were many, the most memorable moment would have to be when Daniel decided to help a fan propose to his partner in public – despite a technical hitch (!), we hope the couple are on their way to building marital bliss.
On a purely musical level, killer renditions of “Deep” and “A Natural Disaster” raised the heat levels inside the venue even more and following an emotional take of “A Simple Mistake”, Anathema left the stage at curfew time, only to return, following popular demand, to finish with a blistering interpretation of “Closer”.
Business and art have been at loggerheads for many, many years and it is more often than not that we find the latter suffering from the imposing will and base cynicism of the former. In such a tense and highly confrontational environment it is quite rare to find a label that truly believes in art, rather than pure profit, so if Daniel Cavanagh’s words stand for anything, then Kscope is perhaps the exception which proves the rule.
The purpose of tonight’s gathering was to celebrate Kscope’s five years in existence, so I raise my glass and wish them both luck and success in all future undertakings. Next time, though, please let’s all meet somewhere with some proper aircon!
Review and photos by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Anathema Set List:
- “Thin Air”/“Untouchable, Part 1”/“Untouchable, Part 2”/“Dreaming Light”
- “Deep”/“The Beginning and the End”/“A Natural Disaster”/“A Simple Mistake”Encore: 9. “Closer”
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