|Event:||Anathema + Alcest|
|Location:||Kino Šiška, Ljubljana|
Pick one of the main acts in terms of feels and melancholia, who reinvented itself multiple times since the early Nineties. Pick also those who, a decade ago, reshaped the emotional fringe of extreme metal. Put them together, in one of those venues hard to criticize, and you'll get a truly remarkable event, not to miss for those who love to wallow in sad music.
We're talking about Anathema, with Alcest as the opening act, at Kino Šiška in Ljubljana, the always beautiful Slovenian capital city. A cold and rainy autumn evening to frame up, thanks to the lengthy performances and the high quality level.
Neige and Winterhalter, sided by the faithful Zero and Indria, come on stage perfectly on time with "Kodama", giving us the chance to blend with the experience of a typical Alcest gig: the wall sounds (with pretty clear instruments, something not to take for granted) and the lights, the ethereal atmosphere that go hand in hand with their music. Neige's voice is always on the same level as the other instruments, never above them, both in clean parts and during his particular screaming that brings the French band back to glorious days, before the more or less discussed "Shelter" e "Les Voyages de l'âme". The setlist travels through the ten years went by since their debut, except for "Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde", a real pity given the recent reissue to mark its anniversary. Nonetheless, they give us a pretty nice insight of what Alcest is all about: the revived blackgaze in their last album, the dreamy "Autre Temps", all the way to the inevitable emotional breakdown with "Percées de Lumière" and the closing piece, "Délivrance".
Seven songs for a full hour of flawless performance, from a group of artists now at ease with success and media exposition, but who still keep their feet on the ground: in fact, they put away their own gear before going into the crowd for the headliners and greet their numerous fans for photos and autographs. Sublime.
The band, consisting in the Cavanagh brothers plus Lee Douglas and Daniel Cardoso, comes on stage and starts where everything stopped in 2001 with "A Fine Day To Exit", of which "The Optimist" is the natural continuation. The beach on the backdrop is, in fact, the same as the one on the album cover and the atmosphere is already thick, especially because the first part of the gig is a breathtaking one, with "Untouchable, Part 1/2" and a first batch of songs from the latest album. As the most attentive of you might have noticed, one important guy is not on stage tonight and that's John Douglas, who doesn't go on long tours these days due to be a part of his little daughter's development: Cardoso makes up for it in a great way behind the kit (despite some minor flaws and a maybe too linear performance), while Vincent Cavanagh splits himself between keyboards and guitars.
In general, the band seems a bit tense, probably because of the aforementioned situation and because of the audience who seems a bit cold, except during the most famous songs: this impacts Danny Cavanagh more than others, who tries more and more to ignite the people standing in front of him who, in turn, react in a tepid way leaving him a bit annoyed. But the show must go on, so the Liverpool band goes through its recent history, starting from "Barriers" and "Pressure" (2001) up to the second-to-last album, without leaving gems like "Dreaming Light" (during which Danny asks for and, this time, obtains people's participation, who light their smartphones for a dreamy effect in the dark of the big hall).
Everything's more relaxed during the second part of the performance, with many interactions between songs, anecdotes and a brief discussion about local football clubs between the curly haired brothers and Lee Douglas, who participated in almost all the songs and whose performance is worthy to frame up. The encore comes without even noticing, with "Firelight" introducing "Distant Satellites" and coming back to the present day with "Springfield" and the immense "Back To The Start", one of the highlits both of the album and the evening, which ends on a tribute to the great Pink Floyd, with Vincent singing the last verse from "Breathe (Reprise)" and the guitar solo from "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" by Danny. Time for the grand finale with "Fragile Dreams", the only piece from the milestone album which is "Alternative 4", before greeting an audience who's been maybe a little tough, but definitely pleased by an out of the ordinary evening.
«Home, home again / I like to be here when I can / When I come home cold and tired / It's good to warm my bones beside the fire», said David Gilmour, and sliding comfortably into emotionality in front of these gentleman has been a little bit like relaxing in front of a fire, in a cold and rainy autumn evening.