Opeth

support Von Hertzen Brothers
author AP date 27/11/12 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Arriving at Vega fashionably 40 minutes late, I'm sad to discover that supporting act Von Hertzen Brothers are just concluding their last song, and as such, no review of their performance can be provided here. If you wish to know what kind of live act they are, however, you can check out MST's thoughts on their show in Århus the day before right here. Given my late arrival, it only takes one pint and a comfortable 20 minutes before the evening's headliner takes the stage before an audience that occupies most of the floor space available at Vega (the upstairs is closed, which tells me that the venue sold some 1,500 tickets to this show - always impressive for a metal act).

Like the photos? Check out more by Rasmus Ejlersen

Mikael Åkerfeldt

Opeth

Although I've never been a diehard Opeth-fan, I've always been able to appreciate them as one of the finest progressive metal (and lately also progressive rock) bands out there, both live and on record. Suffice it to say that "By the Pain I See in Others" from "Deliverance" was actually one of the first metal songs I heard during my inauguration to the genre, and since that day I've eagerly anticipated the day that I get to hear that song played live. It has never happened, and after tonight I must still go on waiting. But while the omission of this most personally meaningful of songs from Opeth's set continues to disappoint me, there is no reason to let it outshadow what is otherwise an excellent performance. Opeth are not the most visually exhilirating band, but for those with an appreciation for personality and the technical aspects of music they rarely disappoint.

Martin Méndez

Starting with "The Devil's Orchard" from last year's "Heritage", which was a considerable leap of faith even from a band as renowned for their diversity, Opeth quickly establish the rules for the night: this is to be a varied set that draws as much from the band's softer side as from the progressive death metal stylings of their old material. Once that song fades out, those new to Opeth shows get some insight as to what it is that makes this band such an experience in the live setting: vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt, who, quite frankly, is probably the best frontman in the world - at least in the metal genres. His between-song banter is intimate, relevant and riddled with irony, and his early observations that he "bought this [Mercyful Fate] t-shirt today, from Michael Denner. It was very expensive" and "We played here once - on the small stage. Bo Kasper's Orkester was playing here, and I remember we stood at the back, thinking 'Some day. Some day.'" are met with understanding laughter and applause, courtesy of a crowd that obviously knows this man very well.

"Ghost of Perdition" then follows to showcase the band's heavier side, before Åkerfeldt continues with his tirade about BKP. "Bo Kaspers Orkester are quite popular in Denmark, aren't they? No? Bo Kaspers Orkester versus Abba? Bo Kaspers Orkester versus Opeth? Ah, you weren't quite sure. This is a mix of death metal and pop music." What follows is a nice touch, at least for me personally, as it is the first time I get to hear "White Cluster" from the 1991 album "Still Life" in a live setting. It is a brilliant, yet often forgotten piece that provides one of the highlights of the evening; a stark contrast to the beautiful "Hope Leaves" from 2003's "Damnation", which Åkerfeldt precedes with the remark "This one is quite danceable. I can't dance, but I would, if I could. For you." It is during this song that we are given an timely reminder that Åkerfeldt is, in fact, a hugely capable singer as well as a growler, sending the first chills of the night down our spines, before Åkerfeldt notes that "You guys have been fucking drinking. We always stay sober on tour. Only, only, only heroin for us" and leads his band into the captivating darkness of "Deliverance". The next song, "Hessian Peel" from Opeth's 2008 album "Watershed" is introduced with "[this song] is not very popular yet, but maybe in 2000 years people will like it".

Its monumental second half is a welcome restoration of density that has the audience headbanging in unison, and a fine intermission between two of the band's most delicate moments tonight, the second of which follows with "Häxprocess", Åkerfeldt's "favorite song from the 'Heritage' record", which is "a bit bleak - just like the rest of [their] songs". He tells us that "the day we start writing about going out on Saturday nights is the end of this band. This song is about going out on Friday nights", and Opeth then proceeds to deliver what must surely be one of the most chillingly beautiful concert moments this year. The low-key delicacy of this touching song completely mesmerizes the audience, and a respectful silence descends over the venue (well, except for very few select fucktards who deem it fit to laugh and chat during what is obviously a very personal moment for Åkerfeldt) for the duration of the song, broken after 7 minutes by a very loud crowd member shouting "Dét der. Fuck, det godt!" ("That right there. God damn that's good.") and the rest of us clapping in mutual agreement. Simply stunning.

Mikael Åkerfeldt

"You know what this means? It means this is the last song, and you should invite us back. Will you give us an open invitation? are Åkerfeldt's first words thereafter, and when the crowd refuses to settle down, he adds "How about this? Shut the fuck up!" and tells us that we can guess this song: "It starts with an 'H', and ends with... 'arlequin Forest'". Taken from their "Ghost Reveries" album, which was released in 2005, this 11-minute progressive behemoth sets a fittingly grandiose conclusion to a most excellent show, though naturally it isn't really the end, with the legendary "Blackwater Park" adding another 12 minutes of grandeur after a brief encore. Once again, Opeth prove that you don't need energy, visual effects or a huge stage production to produce an excellent performance; just you play tight, choose your setlist with care, and make sure your comments and banter in between songs aren't the usual generic "This is the best show ever!" tirades, your show will go down as a success.

Setlist:

  • The Devil's Orchard
  • Ghost of Perdition
  • White Cluster
  • Hope Leaves
  • Deliverance
  • Hessian Peel
  • Häxprocess
  • Reverie/Harlequin Forest

--Encore--

  • Blackwater Park

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