at John Dee, Oslo, Norway, September 8th 2009

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

All photos by Karolina E. Piwko

In Oslo you can go see commercially successful bands and artists play at Oslo Spektrum, Rockefeller or Sentrum Scene, but once in a while you can get a real treat at the much smaller venue, John Dee. This Tuesday in September was one of those nights.

Anathema is best known for their Alternative/Atmospheric Rock albums, but their earliest releases were more of the British Death/Doom Metal genre, and together with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride they helped develop this genre in the early 90s.

During the approximately two hour long set, the band played songs from all their albums to date, and a few more.

They started off really heavy with the death/doomy song “The Silent Enigma” off the record with the same name. From there they took it down a few notches with calmer songs such as “Empty” and “Lost Control.” All in all, the audience was treated to no less than twenty-one songs covering Anathema’s entire career; a career that will see its twentieth anniversary next year.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

John Dee was almost sold out, and that seemed to surprise vocalist Vincent Cavanaugh as well.
– Fuck me, there was no way I expected this many people to come here, on a Tuesday night and everything. We haven’t put out an album in five years, he said after the band had played the first five songs without a break. He obviously didn’t count last years’ release, Hindsight; a compilation album of the band’s classic songs played acoustic.

As mentioned, Anathema’s music is divided into two main categories; the heavy doomy songs, and the alternative/atmospheric songs. Obviously they have more of the latter category, but the band balances on a thin line between these two contrasts and they have placed the heavier songs on strategic places, succeeding in varying the set a lot. The audience was clearly not at John Dee by chance; they sang along to the old classics and enjoyed the calmness of the atmospheric songs.

But it wasn’t all seriousness, and after a brilliant version of “Temporary Peace” the audience showed their appreciation for the band by shouting, some shouted little more than the rest.

– We got some loonies here then? Vincent Cavanaugh asked.
– Yeah, the loonies shouted
– Actually, if you were loonies you wouldn’t shout “Yeah,” he replied.

After fourteen songs the band went off stage. The bands’ lead guitarist Daniel Cavanaugh came back on stage and played a beautiful acoustic version of “Are You There?”. While the original song, found on A Natural Disaster is keyboard based, this was the Hindsight version played with an acoustic guitar and sung by Daniel Cavanaugh.

Next was a keyboard/acoustic guitar experience as “One Last Goodbye” (this was also a Hindsight version) was performed in another coating with lead vocalist Vincent Cavanaugh back behind the microphone.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

“Sleepless” was the only song off their debut album Serenades that was played. This is a song that easily will make you think of early Paradise Lost. After four songs, the encore was finished, but the audience still wanted more, and the band still wanted to play more. A second encore and three more songs were played.

Anathema is still a relevant band in today’s music world, and judging by the three new songs that were played during the set, we got a lot to look forward to. The songs continue the musical style of A Natural Disaster from 2003, which to this date is the bands’ latest original release. Anathema may not be a huge commercial success, but judging by the attendance at John Dee, they are more than good enough for a lot of people.

Anathema’s setlist

  • The Silent Enigma (off The Silent Enigma)
  • Empty (off Alternative 4)
  • Balance (off A Natural Disaster)
  • Closer (off A Natural Disaster)
  • Lost Control (off Alternative 4)
  • Angels Walk Among Us (new song)
  • Deep (off Judgement)
  • A Simple Mistake (new song)
  • Temporary Peace (off A Fine Day To Exit)
  • Judgement (off Judgement)
  • Eternity (Part III) (off Eternity)
  • Hope (Roy Harper cover) (off Eternity)
  • A Fine Day To Exit (off A Fine Day To Exit)
  • Flying (off A Natural Disaster)


  • Are You There? (originally off A Natural Disaster, although this was the Hindsight version)
  • One Last Goodbye (originally off Judgement, although this too was the Hindsight version) (keyboard + acoustic guitar + vocals)
  • Universal (new song)
  • Sleepless (off Serenades)

Encore 2:

  • A Dying Wish (off The Silent Enigma)
  • Shroud Of False (off Alternative 4)
  • Fragile Dreams (off Alternative 4)


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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