Antimatter and Jade Vine
9th January, 2016
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling
After what seems like several days of torrential rain in London, I’m making my way to the Barfly in Camden to catch a very rare live appearance by Antimatter. This promises to be a very intimate affair and an almost unique opportunity to see the band on English soil.
The venue is filling nicely by the time the Jade Vine, the support for the evening, take to the stage.
This is a 5 piece band playing rock “with an alternative/prog rock twist”! You can hear influences from the likes of Pink Floyd and Anathema in the songs for sure and the vocals of Constantine Magdalinos are soulful and full of emotion.
The band are actually a very good fit as support for Antimatter, there are similarities here too. They play a shortish set which is well received and is definitely good enough to spark a little bit of curiosity around them and I’m sure a few merch sales.
There’s no doubt though that most of the people here tonight have come to see Antimatter. For those that don’t know, a bit of background on the band. It was formed in 1998 by Duncan Patterson (then of Anathema) and Mick Moss. Initially the music was dark, acoustic rock, with tinges of electronica and even trip hop with various vocalists. This developed over the course of a number of years, taking various directions but always retaining a dark, melancholic feel.
On later material, Mick Moss took on vocal duties himself and when Patterson decided to leave the band, Moss continued with the project under the same name. So much for history, Antimatter have toured extensively over the years but strangely, very rarely play in England. Indeed Mick Moss jokes that they have only had two headlining gigs in the UK! And from what I’ve read only 16 gigs in the UK in total! So, an opportunity to see them was not to be turned down!
Looking very comfortable on the small stage and connecting with audience in a very real way, Mick Moss and the rest of the band that is currently Antimatter bash through a set covering a fair bit of their history. The songs are complex, sad, compelling in equal measure. Songs where the silence in the songs is every bit as important as the notes. The whole experience is exacerbated by the small intimate setting.
Starting with “Killer” from the current album The Judas Table, Moss’ voice is straining with emotion from the go get – played live, this song is very much pared down and sounds more morose and sad than the recorded version. This sets the tone for the evening, with the vocals and lyrics along with melancholic and pensive guitar work creating something that trascends a normal gig.
A broken guitar string early in the set allows Moss the luxury of a joke about not being able to afford roadies but this does nothing to interrupt the flow. “Black Eyed Man” casts its’ spell, “The Last Laugh” takes us way back in time and still sounds perfect. Jenny O’Connor helps out on backing vocals here and there and this adds another dimension to the sound. In truth though, Moss’ vocals need no help. “Over Your Shoulder” followed by “Can of Worms” cover several years in just a few minutes. Both sound relevant and fresh.
The cover “Gagging Order” from side project Sleeping Pulse sees Moss telling us he has promised to play at least one song from the project at each Antimatter gig. “Redemption” and “Leaving Eden” take us to another period for the band with the former of these in particular hitting all the right notes and once again showcasing what an amazing vocal performer Moss is.
Finishing off the set with the epic “Stillborn Empires” which cannot have failed to connect with the crowd I’m left wondering why Antimatter have never really become bigger than they are. They take a well deserved bow and leave the stage. I’m definitely left wanting to hear more. I would have loved to hear “Saviour” and “In Stone”.
Maybe save them for the next London appearance and lets not make it such a long wait next time, eh Mick? In a musical world where there is a lot of repetition and sometimes imitation (intentional or otherwise), Antimatter stand on their own, doing their own thing, with their own sound. And for that I’ll be forever grateful……