Patience seems to be a virtue that the metal scene in Serbia has learned to master through recent years as tours quite often don’t visit this part of the Balkans. With that being said, the Anathema and Alcest tour was received with excitement and enthusiasm when the tour stopped at Dom Omladine in the center of Belgrade last October 23rd.
There were many questions that I had about the metal scene here in Serbia since arriving here a month ago, especially the turn out for international tours, but as I saw a venue full and vibrant for the Paradise Lost show just a week before Anathema and Alcest I realized that Serbian metalheads are quite devoted to live shows whenever an international band tours their country even if there is not a weekly occurrence like some countries in the north of Europe or even in North America.
The day of the Anathema show I arrived a bit early to the venue to sort out my photo pass and press credentials just to discover that everything it seems to be sorted out on its own (in an organized and efficient way) as soon doors open, so next time I won’t have to arrive early, but just in time as doors open. At first, I thought the turn out wasn’t going to be that great as the show was on a Monday night. But, Serbians once again proved me wrong as by the time Alcest started to play the room was almost full.
Alcest has stepped up their game way higher since last time I saw them live, not only they keep that dark and humble stage presence, but in some sort of way, they have become a bit more progressive and heavier while constantly shaping their shoegaze style. Since it was their first time in Belgrade, the Serbian metalheads got a large dose of a mature and evolved Alcest. The crowd that came for Alcest got a great set list as the band not only played material from their latest album Kodama (2016) but from their previous releases giving the Serbian metalheads a quick tour through their discography.
The change between Alcest and Anathema was smooth and quick which didn’t make a dent in the animosity and the excitement around the floor as Serbian metalheads were about to presence Anathema in full force for the first time as well (it’s important to point out that in the past Vincent & Danny had come to Belgrade for acoustic sessions, but this was the first time the whole band was playing live in Belgrade).
At this time is necessary to say that I wasn’t a fan of how the photographers were treated during this show. To begin with, Danny asked the photographers to don’t stand up in the photo pit, but to kind of crawl around the photo pit to shoot the show so they could clear the view for the people in the front, but c’mon it was only for the first three songs, as a concert goer you by now must know that photographers don’t stay more than those first three songs.
Now talking about songs, it seems the intro was included into the three songs allowance, which caught photographers by surprise when Danny stopped the show to tell photographers to get out of the photo pit at the end of the second complete song. So it was a bit sad to see the faces of confusion as the photographers were leaving the photo pit.
Show-wise, Anathema delivered a very powerful and emotive show that left the Serbian metalheads with a radiant smile as they left the venue that cold October night. Anathema just didn’t deliver one more tour show in Belgrade, their show was more like a beautiful rendition of poetic music that melted the heart and soul of the crowd. There were tears of happiness and there were emotional smiles and giggles among the people in the audience.
Songs like: Endless Ways, The Optimist, Pressure, Dreaming Light and Lightning Song (which wasn’t on the original setlist) were some of the few attraction of the Anathema show. We must not forget the importance of tracks like Distant Satellites, Springfield, and Back to the Start which were part of the encore but they were the cherry on top of an almost magical night.
Now, let’s hope that Anathema and many more international bands make their way to Belgrade more often as fans here seem pretty eager, are excited, and have already waited long enough for bands to come to this side of the Balkans to play for them.