Sometimes you pick up a live album because you want to hear a band stretch it wings on beloved songs, take them for a curved walk around the park, breathe and expand. Or get that unrelenting push in your face, the sensation of air moving, of heat and sweat and the pummeling that only comes when a raucous roar of guitars hits your face, and this is the closest you can come to that experience. Or, in this specific case, you see Anathema in their first NYC show in years and when you go to the merch table to you want to show your support, so you pick up a shirt and a copy of Universal, hoping it’ll be close to the experience you just had live.
It doesn’t come close, sadly. But overall it’s still a really live live document of the band, and it does have them playing “Everything” which they didn’t play live when you saw them, so that’s something. It comes with a nice DVD of the event, but you never play it because the thing about Anathema live is, when you’re there it’s a phenomenal experience, but when you listen in your car or at home it’s just kind of a louder version of the studio tracks. Even when there’s an orchestra accompanying the songs it still feels inert. Great setlist, though – spins through mouth of the latest albums at the time and takes a few dips back. The band sounds fantastic (just as they did when you saw them) but overall you’d just prefer to go back to the studio record, thank you very much.
Nothing wrong with that. Some bands are born to have amazing live albums, and some bands are born to be amazing live. The two don’t always intersect.