Quality rock record label Kscope is celebrating its fifth year of existence and this party includes two shows of its bands playing at the Relentless Garage. The final night is headlined by emotive rockers Anathema and the show is deservedly sold out. The queue snakes along the Garage in the sustained intensive heat of this unusual summer.
Opening the evening is Liverpool's Leafblade, a bold yet melancholy folk act complete with Anathema's Danny Cavanagh on guitars. Taking a frank approach, the performance is understandably a laid back one, rich in organic textures and memorable melodies. The audience has not yet thickened out but those in attendance are certainly appreciative of the performance. The crisp sounds of 'Bethlehem&' and 'The Roots and the Stones' are exemplary examples of acoustic folk, resonating a beautiful warmth that brings rose-tinted memories to the surface.
On the slightly more intense side of the spectrum are Mothlite, their eerie brand of impossible-to-categorise rock successfully attracting the audience's attention. Formed by Londoner Daniel O'Sullivan from musical chameleons Ulver, the music is a smorgasbord of ambient, electronic, gothic, prog rock, drone, world music and undoubtedly a bevy of other genres of music. The end is result is mesmerising and truly unique. Like all the bands tonight, the music is pregnant with a breadth of emotions, as opposed to artistic weirdness or technical showboating that the deluge of varying musical styles might suggest. No two songs are alike as OSullivan torpedoes through different moods and ambiences, taking the crowd from the dynamic to the icy, from the delirious to the isolating. Mothlite should certainly be better known.
Scotland's North Atlantic Oscillation is the final artist before the headliners and offers a marriage of indie, post rock, atmospheric and electronic music to the evening. It is as if newer Porcupine Tree, My Bloody Valentine and Portishead had been dropped into a blender. Formed in 2007 and with two albums to their name, the group weave disorientating, narcotic-style tapestries that are enveloping and almost hypnotise the listener. The melodies are somewhat upbeat and the dream-like textures they create are worked beautifully in the live environment. The sweat-stained punters devour the performance, absorbing each melting note with gusto and a deserved appreciation.
Opening with 'Thin Air' from 'We're Here Because We're Here', Liverpool's Anathema once again grace a London stage to a herald of god-like ovation. The reserved nature of the audience for the support band vanishes at Anathema's unbridled rock energy. This is followed by 'Untouchable, Part 1' and 'Untouchable, Part 2&', from their latest full-length 'Weather Systems'. These tracks can only be played back-to-back and are seamlessly soldered together. The fragile vocal qualities of Vincent Cavanagh and his femme equal Lee Douglas are nothing show of beautiful, full of passion and the rigor of the down-hearted. Sophisticated work on the acoustic guitar like this is not common and illustrates the musicianship of the band.
The setlist focuses primarily on 'We're Here Because We're Here' with 'Summernight Horizon', 'Dreaming Light' and 'Everything' being particular emotive highlights. The only extra song from 'Weather Systems' is surprisingly 'The Beginning and the End' but the newer material receives some of the strongest praise of the night. The title track of 'A Natural Disaster' sees Douglas shine in an impassioned moment of lyrical regret. The performance is incredibly tender and the fans sing along word for word. Anathema's atmospheric, progressive and soft rock is a fantastic concoction of nostalgia, memories and love. It is disconsolate avoiding melodrama, a far cry from their death/doom metal roots in the early nineties.
The band's performance is a vicarious one, heightening the amount of spirit they put into writing the material. Between songs, vocalist and guitarist Vincent Cavanagh thanks the audience for attending in addition to thanking Kscope. However, there is one particular unpredictable moment with the announcement of a proposal but the couple are out of sight. Hopefully she said yes.
Closing number 'A Simple Mistake' is thoughtful and full of wisdom, a great way to finalise the night. The audience are clearly not eager to leave, remaining in the boiling conditions of the venue in the hopes of Anathema returning to elongate their performance. Their wishes are granted as the encore yields 'Closer' and the audience's enthusiasm is summoned up rapidly for one final time. The performance is stellar and the sound clear as it has been all night (thanks to Steven Wilson's sound man) and Anathema's return to the studio at the end of the year will hopefully breed more shows like this next year.