These are the moments that make you feel really old – but not in a bad way. When I got my ticket for the 25th anniversary show, I started to thi nk about how many years I had been listening to that band already. I pretty much started listening to Opeth somewhen after the second album had been released. It was fun to have an alarm clock that reminded me of the start of the ticket sales and that day I was literally running of to my lunchbreak in order to secure a ticket for the show. After I got my hands on a ticket, I got a bit nostalgic, thinking of how I discovered Opeth and how I almost instantly fell in love with their sound about 17 or 18 years ago. This evening was going to be exciting!
Opeth´s history probably doesn´t need that much introduction anymore. The band was formed back in the 90s in a Stockholm suburb, the bandname was taken from a novel, mid 90s the band landed a contract with Candlelight Records and from there on they can look back on an evergrowing fanbase.
A jump in time, two record company changes and several albums later, the band is now celebrating their 25th anniversary with a tour, where they visit classical concert houses, like Le Trianon in Paris, the Admiralpalast in Berlin, the Palladium in London or the beautiful Konserthuset in their hometown Stockholm – which is also the location where they started the tour.
To be able to cover as much as possible of the long bandhistory, they announced that they´d be playing two 80-minute sets (with one break in between). The first part was dedicated to the phenomenal „Ghost Reveries“ album from 2005, which gave them worldwide attention and is celebrating 10 years anniversary. The second part of the concert consists of a mix of songs from all albums of the band´s history and also includes the two latest albums „Heritage“ and „Pale Communion“ which received quite mixed reactions from the fans. They were however very successful and reached place 19 in the American Billboard Charts. A great success, especially considering the progressive direction the band has gone to.
Since I had missed the opportunity to see Opeth live in a similar setting when they played in the good old Royal Albert Hall in London in 2010 – being the heaviest band to date to play in this venue , I couldn´t miss this chance to attend a truly memorable evening.
The evening was starting quite early at 19:00 already and it was pretty exciting to see this huge number of Metalheads in this nice venue.
The stage setup was pretty simple with 3 videoscreens and some candles on stage. Pretty much on time the band came on stage and started right off with „Ghost of Perdition“ of the „Ghost Reveries“ album. The sound was sadly everything but good and way too loud. The sound technician might´ve underestimated the acoustics of this concert venue!? Sadly this suppressed my excitement a bit, as I had been really looking forward to hear one of my favourite Opeth albums in its entirety. After the second song „Baying of the Hounds“ one fan was screaming in Swedish something along the lines of „Fix that damn sound!“ and yes, with „Beneath the Mire“, which was also being played live for the first time, it finally started to improve. It stayed however a bit weird throughout the first set.
While the audience clapped and cheered enthusiastically after each song, most people whereseemed to be quite reserved during the songs. A few headbangers, some airdrumming/guitar, but other than that rather concentrated listening. It might´ve been due to the fact that this was a fully-seated concert, which made the whole thing a bit more „stiff“.
Two more songs of the album were played live for the first time: „Hours of Wealth“ and „Isolation Years“. The latter also ended the first part of the gig and the band went into a short break.
After about 20 minutes, the concert continued, now with a mix of different albums.
Two things had changed remarkably: The sound had improved and vocalist Mikael seemed to finally found his way back to his entertainer qualities. While there was almost no communication apart from „thank you“ througout the first part of the concert, was there now much more chatting and jokes during the second one.
Actually he said that they had been drinking quite a bit – which might or might not be a reason for the newfound talkativeness.
It was honestly a bit disappointing, that the earliest albums where completely left out on the setlist. On a 25th anniversary show one would´ve probably expected a song from each album. Alas Orchid, Morningrise, My Arms Your Hearse and Still Life were not represented at all Whatever the reason was, it would´ve been possible to play some more songs, if the latest album „Pale Communion“ wouldn´t have been represented with 3 songs in the second part of the concert, whereas all other albums were honored with one song.
Either way, they kicked off with „Eternal Rains Will Come“ – Prog at its best – and „Cusp of Eternity“ from the Pale Communion album, the first two out of three songs from their latest album. After I had initially been quite resistent towards the new direction the band had taken with their two latest albums, I must say that these albums have really grown on me by time. The old albums would still be preferred, but this is awesome material as well. This was followed by the wonderful „Leper Affinity“. Mikael was, as mentioned back to the talkative entertainer that I used to see at other gigs and the introduction of the band turned into a funny dialog between the band and the audience. When he introduced the band and told some things, certain parts of the audience cheered when the home of the member was mentioned. Depending on the part of Stockholm where the members live, also with an „ooooh“.
Things got a bit calmer with „To Rid the Disease“ – it was awesome to enjoy this song with a now really good sound. When they continued with „I feel the dark“, I got reminded once more of the almost hypnotic effect Mikael´s voice can have – simply beautiful.
Back to some more heavy stuff that caused at least some headbanging in the audience – „Masters Apprentice“. While not only the audience, but also Mikael was a bit more on the „stiffer“ side, drummer Martin Axenrot and keyboarder Joakim where much more active.
Purely in numbers this evening could be summarized as : A sold out Konserthuset, the whole „Ghost Reveries“ album played, 3 songs from „Pale Communion“ and one each of „Blackwater Park“, „Damnation“, „Deliverance“, „Heritage“ and „Watershed“, which missing the first 3 albums alltogether and one happy audience, once the sound had improved. After some great applause the band returned for a little encore with „The Lotus Eater“ and was then leaving the stage under well-deserved standing ovations.
I wouldn´t mind having such gigs again, with albums being played in their entirety as this gives a totally different feeling.
All in all a great evening and a wonderful setting that proves that Metal gigs should definitely be played in such venues more often!
Ghost of Perdition
Baying of the Hounds (first live performance since Feb 2012)
Beneath the Mire (live debut)
Reverie/Harlequin (first live performance since May 2013)
Hours of Wealth (live debut)
Isolation Years (live debut)
Cusp of Eternity
To Rid The Disease
I Feel The Dark
Voice of Treason
Text & photos: Cornelia Wickel