Gorgeous set from the world's best Progressive metallers
The arena is packed to capacity. The chants of “O-peth O-peth” have started. Opeth walk serenely on to the stage, and after what seems like forever open with ‘Heir Apparent’. It’s so starkly different, so wildly other than anything else we’ve seen today, the effect is breathtaking. ‘Ghost of Perdition’ is a serious contender for song of the night, if not the weekend, as it weaves intricately through heavy growling to delicate guitar picking, and the audience follows, wailing the melodies along with the band.
Mikael Kerfeldt chooses this moment to dryly address the crowd with “Nice and pissed yet?” It may be obvious that a few people are a bit far gone by this time. “This band is called Opeth. We are from Sweden. All Swedish people are very rich, and this gig has just made us a bit richer.” His laconic humour isn’t lost on (most of) the crowd, who whistle and cheer appreciatively. To the uninitiated, Kerfeldt’s teasing may seem blunt, but the sheer force of the music isn’t lost on anyone who has crammed into the arena to listen as they break into ‘Godhead’s Lament’. Before the incredible ‘The Leper Affinity’ (from the all-conquering ‘Blackwater Park’), Kerfeldt informs us that he recently turned thirty-five (to cheering), but that he still has great buttocks (to wolf-whistles). There are very few people who could say that on stage and not look like a complete idiot. Fortunately, Kerfeldt is one of those people. He also tells a little story about how one poor audience member tried to headbang through the next song, but due to the tricky time signature changes fell over in the attempt. Then it’s straight into the mighty ‘Hessian Peel’, and there’s considerably less headbanging than there might have been…
Watching Opeth is like being in the eye of a storm. You’re aware of the raging force of the heavier movements around you, but you’re drawn to the tiny details in the quieter passages. They might have been playing to ten people rather than a roomful, and you wouldn’t have noticed. “Are you ready to rock?” Kerfeldt asks the crowd, and receives an overwhelmingly positive response “well I’m not ready just yet.” And he continues to fiddle with his guitar. They’re a real anomaly of the weekend; when the overwhelming attitude is to turn everything up to eleven, all the time, Opeth prove that sometimes less is more. And in the case of songs like ‘Closure’ and ‘The Lotus Eater’, more is also more. But that’s progressive metal for you.
Fortunately, Opeth’s set isn’t plagued by too many technical problems. At least not of their own making. Their light display had a few dodgy moments, but the sound quality was brilliant. “Did you notice how I fucked up then?” our compelling frontman asks. When he gets a quiet “yes” from the front, he jokes, “Fuck you. Shut the fuck up.” Before starting another story about how he had to have lyrics written down when he couldn’t remember them. Well, after about nine albums, that’s forgivable. The crowd is ecstatic, protesting vehemently when Opeth leave the stage before their inevitable encore. And when Kerfeldt walks back on to the stage, it resembles the slightly bemused second coming of Jesus, with a crowd reaction to match. They finish with the powerful ‘Deliverance’ and you feel so, so sorry for the bands on the other stage who had to compete with this, and the bands tomorrow who have to live up to it.