Music For The Blind – Anathema Live

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Taking the participants of my music presentation session for blind people to a live show, in order to experience its magic, was my plan for number of months. When it happened, it turned out better, than I could imagine.


I have been presenting interesting artists to blind and visually handicapped, once in a month since the first session in June and it was incredible experience every time. I am blown away by the feedback, excitement and appreciation from all the participants. Sessions were taking place in the Prague headquarters of major Czech agency for the blind and visually handicapped called SONS. During the two hours sessions, I would always present some of my most favorite songs within ambient/prog rock and always adjust the next playlist based on the listener’s feedback. Each session great and I must also compliment local sound system, but personally I believe the live show is the ultimate experience. When I looked around, during any song, listeners were fully concentrated and often they had their eyes closed. Even those, with a certain degree of visual handicap. This made me thinking to take them to a live show, to push this experience even further.



Number one band’s show, which ended up on my list of options was Anathema’s on 28th of October. They were the only band, which I played more than once and actually, I always opened up a playlist with their track. Therefore I tried to contact the promoter and also band’s management to see what we can do. Feedback from both blew me away. I have really good relationship with the promoter and Obscure Promotion were cool to offer two free tickets right away. At the same time, I was trying to arrange with the band’s management a front cover interview with Lee Douglas. I wanted to speak to her for years, but I was warned, she is very shy and it would be hard to convince her to do it. Just few days before the show, while the negotiations were still taking place, I was suddenly contacted by band’s management, which offered me five guestlist spots and a VIP table. That was beyond the wildest dreams.


This was very good news to start our fourth session on 25th of October. At first, I was counting on those two tickets and we have even picked out the two participants, which made it to all sessions so far and were becoming big fans. There were also few more interested, but they had to cancel for personal or health problems. Therefore, Jan with visual handicapped was accompanied by his daughter and me and my girlfriend, we accompanied Vladimir, who is blind and needed more support. Unfortunately, the interview with Lee didn’t take place, as she doesn’t feel comfortable during interviews, but this bad news was absolutely beaten by Jamie Cavanagh’s invitation to come to the venue before the door’s opening to take us to our table. He was amazing, same the whole evening. But, I believe, you will have a better idea of what the guests experience, would be to read their thoughts from them.


From my side: Thank you Jamie, Anathema and Obscure Promotion



Jan Szkatula:

First of all, I would like to thank you Dan for music presentations, which are really interesting for and enriching. I must say, I got interested for Anathema, from the tracks you played to us. However, seeing them live was totally different level. I must say, their show didn’t give us a second to “rest”. Both musically, same as visually it was breathtaking experience. In certain parts of the show I felt references to Pink Floyd, which I truly love. But the biggest surprise was female vocal perfectly combined with gradating rock music. Lee was simply amazing and the band was incredibly tight. Musical concept of Anathema is heavy, but at the same time colorful, rich, gentle and full of emotions. Such a show is amazing, not only for rockers. Thank you from me and my daughter Klára.



Vladimír Dvořák:

Before I will get to an amazing Anathema show, which I had a pleasure to experience with my friends in Lucerna music bar, maybe I should mention at first, how I met my friend Dan Sywala. More precisely, why did we meet? As a teenager, I started to profile my taste and I fell in love with rock music. To be concrete, it was the album The Wall from Pink Floyd. I found out, electric guitar means the world to me and my music taste was suddenly defined. I started to listen to practically everything, where guitar tones vibrated and I would use every chance to hear something new. This way I got to the basics of hard rock, metal, blues and art rock. My collection was growing fast and I would jump from one thing to another, but it was all related to rock music. I am not saying, I managed to discover everything, but at some point, I followed the whole genre well. On the other hand, I must say, over time I was getting bored by the bands, I listened at the beginning, as it was getting predictable to me. As we grow, we often stop being strictly aiming for a single genre and we give a chance to new music, where offers new experiences. Therefore I opened my mind to genres as jazz or post rock, which are very unpredictable and mixing various techniques. However, the offer was so huge and I was not attracted by many. Therefore I was hoping to meet someone, who could introduce me to it and show me the right direction.


Suddenly it happened, when I received an email from agency SONS with an invitation for „ambient rock music presentation sessions“ lead by Dan Sywala, who is presenting interesting musicians and bands. I didn’t doubt for a second and accepted the invitation right away. As he has a taste for good quality music, he started to throw at us amazing songs right from the start. In that intensive flow, there was also a „pearl“. More precisely Dan’s pearl, called Anathema. I came to understand, why this bands means so much to him, after next few session, as he always opened the playlist with Anathema’s song. On top of that, Dan came to us one day with an offer of few free ticket on Anathema’s upcoming show in Prague. I was doubting it for a while, as I not used, out of politeness, to accept offers like that. Especially, when they are for free. However, I decided to accept and I am glad I did.



Special evening has started by meeting others, who were going to the club with us. Everybody was friendly and it seemed as a great start. We were granted VIP entrance and picked up by Anathema’s bass player, who brought us to our reserved table. He was very nice and I felt, there were no boundaries between people for him. This was very warming, considering the changes in our society. Before the main star of the evening took the stage, we were enjoying a show from Alcest. I must say, it was amazing to let myself get carried by atmospherical heights of amazing melodic rock in ballads, which were suddenly replaced by harsh singing and melodic once again. I didn’t know Alcest before that, but after this experience, they have become a stable part of my musical interest.



Then it was time for the peak of the evening – Anathema. It was amazing. Simply beautiful. As I expected, I was blown away by their ballads. These sort of the songs always take me to unique fantasy world and they became sort of a drug for me. But to be fair, also more dynamic songs resonated well with the audience, which was very family oriented. From what I heard, both frontmen were saying, they never played in such an environment. This takes me to the beginning again, when I was talking about Pink Floyd, where Anathema gets inspiration from. Part of their setlist was also a song Shine On You Crazy Diamond, which is familiar to all fans of good music. Circle is closed. There was only one drawback that night. There were so many people around, that I couldn’t get up for a standing ovation.

Dan, thank you very much once again. It was an amazing evening and incredible experience.



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