It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible


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Britain’s best kept musical secret

Last night I was in Leeds seeing Opeth perform live. Opeth, of course, are Swedish. But they were supported by Anathema, a British band whose lack of major success continues to astonish me. They should be filling stadiums. It’s the fifth time I’ve seen both bands, but the first time they’ve toured together.

But, Anathema. They started out in 1990 as the doomiest of doomy metal bands, but by their third album in 1996 had morphed into a sort of alternative metal / goth rock / prog rock sort of band. They’re not easy to pigeonhole, nor are they relentlessly non-commercial. The reverse, in fact. In recent years, they seem to have drifted a little towards Radiohead territory, though I think they’re a great deal better than that band. In evidence, here’s ‘Untouchable Part 1′ from their last album, Weather Systems. They played it last night. It was bloody good.

As for the venue, the less said about that the better… The gig took place in the Leeds Metropolitan Universe Student Union. Capacity is allegedly 1100, but I’d guess safe capacity is about three-quarters of that. The place was packed solid – so much so that if you left the room, you couldn’t get back in. And the ventilation appeared to be off, as well. Ten minutes into Opeth’s set, the room was like a sauna. People were leaving because it was too hot. The organisers apparently knew this because they lined up free cups of water along the bar.

Also, during the thirty-minute break between bands, only one half of the bar was open, so it was immediately 10 deep and so impossible to get served. Student Unions generally make piss-poor venues for gigs – most seem to have been designed by idiots, complete warrens with toilets miles from the bars, unnecessary staircases, too small rooms, and always run on the cheap. Leeds Met was no exception. It’s a shame: it could have been an excellent gig, but the venue ruined it.


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That sound you hear is my ears ringing

It’s been a musical week for me. On Tuesday 20 October, I saw Tinariwen in concert. They’re a Tuareg band from Mali. I’ve liked their music since seeing a documentary on the Festival in the Desert seven or eight years ago. They proved much better live than I expected. I bought their new album, Imidiwan: Companions, at the gig, and it’s better than the previous one. Here’s some Tinariwen:

And then I spent Saturday 24 October in Leeds at the Damnation Festival. I’d thought about going to this the last couple of years, but the line-up never appealed. This year, it definitely did. I got to see three bands I like a great deal – Mithras, Anathema and Akercocke. Mithras played with their new line-up, with Sam Bean, ex-The Berzerker, replacing Rayner Coss on bass and vocals. Anathema performed a somewhat over-the-top “best of” set, but it was bloody good. Akercocke weren’t wearing suits. Also there were Rotting Christ, whose last album Theogonia is good. The headline act was Life of Agony, but I wasn’t too impressed. But still, a good festival – much better than I’d expected.


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Saw Anathema live last night. I first saw them two years ago in Glasgow, but this time it was local. Not a big gig. Intimate, almost. But very loud. And excellent. Definitely one of the contenders for the best gig I’ve attended this year.

Here they are playing their “hit single”, ‘Fragile Dreams’. It’s from their Were You There? live DVD.

I can’t wait for the new album.

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