From a pitch black stage, to a slow, red glow, fog, and the thunderous roar of a nearly sold out Moore theater…the Opeth show had begun. With Martin Axenrot behind the kit, Martín Méndez on bass, and Joakim Svalberg on the keys, the three began playing the progressive, jazzy intro riff of Opeth’s first single and title track from their new album “Sorceress” (and if you don’t already have it, shame on you…go buy it, like, now…because its a wonderful album). As the jazz groove intro comes to a close, guitarist Fredrik Åkesson walks out onto the stage, with a thick, chunky, distorted guitar tone, chugging the opening heavy riff of “Sorceress”. Finally, vocalist, guitarist, and Opeth mastermind Mikael Åkerfeldt joins Fredrik in the opening heaviness for a few bars, before the song kicks into full swing...Opeth has arrived!
Pulling songs from 10 of their albums, spanning all the way back to 1998’s critically acclaimed release, “My Arms, Your Hearse”, the setlist was a beautiful blend of some of Opeth’s heavier, more brutal arrangements with guttural, powerful screams, and odd time signatures and rhythms, like “Ghost of Perdition” and “Deliverance", effortlessly flowing into the melancholic and melodic masterpieces encompassing pristinely clean vocal lines and harmonies such as the song “In My Time of Need”. One of my personal favorites off of the more chill, softer record from 2003, “Damnation”.
Keeping with true Mikael Åkerfeldt form, in between songs, he engaged the boisterous Opeth fans with comedic stories and interjections. Poking fun at such things like band members’ stage names, and his lack of groomed moustaché and beard (which he jokingly touted was purposefully left alone because his wonderful girlfriend takes care of that).
After their apparent last song, “The Grand Conjuration”, while the audience belted out their screams, cheers and whistles, Opeth walked off stage to grab a breather and probably a nice sip of some sort of tasty beverage before their encore (hey, it gets really hot on stage...we musicians need our liquids!). Coming back to their instruments following a short, 5 minute break, the audience was still standing and cheering loudly. After playing “Master’s Apprentices” and getting the crowd worked up once again, Mikael took to engaging the audience once more. This time, to take requests.
This was an extremely fun part of the show. Taking his ear piece out and bending down towards the front row, he asked the fans what they wanted to hear. The band would then all look at each other, hoping that they all remembered the parts of the requested song, and then play a few bars of it.
Or, at least they tried their best. haha Some of those songs were pretty old, and probably haven’t been played in some time. But They tried anyways. Anything for the fans. After about 6 or 7 requests for riffs and song parts, someone from the crowd yelled out “DELIVERANCE!” To which Mikael’s reply was “your timing is impeccable”.
Onto Opeth’s final song of the night…the thirteen and a half minute, epic masterpiece called “Deliverance”. The fans couldn’t have asked for a better end to a spectacular show. After shredding everyone’s faces off with “Deliverance”, Opeth made their way to center stage for the ever so classy “arm-in-arm bow”, and tossed guitar picks and drum sticks to the lucky fans in the front.
It’s always a wonderful time when Opeth is in town. Try and catch them on tour when you can, and be ready for an eclectic mix of killer music!