Space Rocks: Anathema, Amplifier, Voyager
Space Rocks is an all day conference held at the O2 arena in London. Hosted in associated with the European Space Agency (ESA), it was jam packed full of space celebrities
Last year at Space Rocks, they had Lonely Robot, Arcane Roots, and Charlotte Hatherley playing. There was also a drop in from the legendary astrophysicist Brian May! (you know, the guy that played in… Queen I think it was?)
For 2019, space and prog royalty also ensued during the events proceedings. From Tim Peake to Lucy Hawking, Jason Issacs to Dominique Tipper, and Voyager to Anathema, this event was billed up to be out of this world.
There were two sessions earlier in the day, dubbed ‘Space Academy’ and ‘Space Lab’ respectively. These were jammed packed full of panel discussions from human space exploration, the climate crisis, space robots, and a new mission to Mercury.
First up, all the way from down under, it was none other than Voyager! They played some old songs, some tracks from Ghost Mile, and their new single, ‘Brightstar’, off of their upcoming album. They’re currently on a wider UK tour, and if you haven’t already got tickets, you can grab some here. They don’t make it out to this side of the world very often.
Around the auditorium, the venue was garnished with space memorabilia. For example, a giant rocket adorned the right side of the stage towered over performers during the event. You can see it pictured above. I’ve never seen anything like this at a gig before, and I wouldn’t be against seeing more of it…
I took some time to explore the exhibits including the Exomars Rosalind Rover, part of an ESA project to search for the existence of past life on Mars. It was very humbling seeing the model up close, and I wish the ESA the best of luck with their mission in 2020.
Next up were Amplifier. I’ve not seen them live before, but their slow progressive songs made for a very zen atmosphere. Sel Balamir (lead vocalist and guitarist) had at least three pedal boards in front of him that he used to create unique and intertwining guitar sounds that I’m not sure have ever been created before. I’d say they’re a mix between David Gilmour and Soundgarden if I had to describe the sound, and would definitely recommend checking them out live if you want a truly cosmic musical experience.
In between sets, there was a very themed and on brand backing playlist. Rocket Man by Elton John, Space Oddity by David Bowie, and more. I later found out this was curated by none other than Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema. It’s the little touches the event made to ensure that everything was on brand.
Anathema had created a bespoke set for the event dubbed “The Space Between Us” which was accompanied by some amazing space themed backing visuals for the set by the ever talented Kristina Pulejkova.
As they got through their set, Anathema played some of my personal favourites, ‘Can’t Let Go’, ‘Springfield’, ‘Distant Satellites’. I am a huge fan of ‘The Optimist’. That album as a whole is a collection of storytelling goodness that only the prog genre can deliver on. And luckily for us, they plan to release their next studio album in 2020 after joining a new label, Mascot Label Group. (They were previously with Kscope).
They finished with a beautifully done cover of ‘Keep Talking’ by Pink Floyd – dedicated to the kids in earlier discussions in the day whom Vincent quoted as finding incredibly inspiring, and that they can see through the bullshit that adults have to deal with day to day.
And as seems to be standard an Anathema concerts I’ve been to recently, they went 10 mins over curfew and got told off from the side of the stage!
Thanks very much to the people at Space Rocks for putting on an amazing event.