Anathema - _Were You There?_
(Music for Nations, 2004)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
On Anathema's new live DVD _Were You There?_, the band receives the same treatment that Opeth recently did -- i.e., a professionally produced DVD where the band gets to play a handful of songs taken from their Music for Nations albums. In Opeth's case this meant missing out on some great tracks, but still amounted to a stunning concert. Anathema, however, haven't been able to impress me with any of their latest efforts; indeed from their Music for Nations discography, only the first record, _Judgement_, did not disappoint to some extent.

The above isn't to say that present day Anathema is a dull or uninteresting affair; though not as vibrant as they once were, the band is still capable of producing some very good and emotional music. Fortunately, the live rendition of some comparatively weaker songs tends to help them shine, and Anathema are able to create a coherent, pleasant set and deliver it with skill and conviction. Setting aside my personal preference for much of their pre-MfN back catalog, the _A Fine Day to Exit_ and _A Natural Disaster_ tracks -- helped by the live setting in a way that is especially evident on "Pulled Under at 2000 Metres a Second" -- remain generally enjoyable, while the numerous _Judgement_ tracks provide the extra spark of brilliance.

The show was recorded in Krakow, Poland (remember _A Vision of a Dying Embrace_?). Audio and video are very good -- certainly better than on Dark Tranquillity's _Live Damage_, which was also shot in Krakow -- though not quite as outstanding as on Opeth's _Lamentations_. Also included is a brief three-song acoustic set with the Liverpool Phillarmonic String Quartet, in which the heartbreaking "One Last Goodbye" is rendered even more so.

All in all, Anathema fans past and present should find something to make this purchase worthwhile, as the band manages to recapture much of that emotional aura that made them so special in the past during this concert. Some songs seem redundant and just passable amidst all this -- and that's without going into the pre-MfN back catalog thing -- but _Were You There?_ remains a very enjoyable live disc.


(article published 31/1/2005)

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