Everyone loves a metal song that lasts about three times longer than a normal song should, and with Opeth and Alcest both playing Glasgow’s 02 ABC tonight, the crowd are going to be getting plenty of them.
Normally words like “post” and “shoegaze” are enough to make me groan but Alcest don’t fall into the vortex of dullardry, not by a long shot. Performing at a level so tight you almost feel like you’re watching an incredibly high quality music video, the band warm up the crowd for Opeth but don’t tire them out early.
Amid chants of Opeth, Sweden, Ikea and ABBA (though no “meatballs,” people seem to forget the wonderful Swedish meatball far too often) the headliners took to the stage in Glasgow, slipping into the first track from the new album, Eternal Rains Will Come. The opening track felt like a strange choice for a live show considering it doesn’t have much of a drive behind it, however, after you accept the band not coming on with a bang but rather a gentle “hi” there were no complaints.
Pale Communion transfers very well to a live setting and despite Akerfeldt’s claims that no one ever shouts for them to “play new shit” at a show, I’m sure most in attendance would have been happy with an extra couple of new tracks. That or an ABBA cover, his quote of Super Trouper certainly warmed up the crowd for some old pop tunes.
After a gentle ride along a couple of tracks from Pale Communion, Opeth then pulled out old fan favourites, Bleak and The Moor, the latter receiving one of the biggest cheers of the night. I don’t know if it’s dropping Bloodbath or if it’s because he hasn’t growled over the last two albums, but Akerfeldt’s live growls sound spot on in the ABC. Another nod has to be given to the sound guy, whether he was Opeth’s own or in house, he produced one of the best live sounds I’ve heard in a Glasgow venue in a long time.
The set was an excellent mix of the old and the new, and soft and heavy. Elysian Woes and Windowpane lull the crowd into a calm daze, only to have them violently whipped back into life by the crushing April Etheral.
Despite there still being a solid forty minutes or so left of music left, they only had around four songs remaining. The Devil’s Orchard was met by huge cheers and the soft humming of The Lotus Eater finally got the crowd moving for the eventual kick in. The pits and music carried forward into an excellent version of The Grand Conjuration. It’s almost unfair to say “excellent version,” as the band at this stage in their career are at their tightest. Granted standing near the front isn’t the best for sound, but it was hard to hear any dropped notes over the night with all five members giving it their best.
To round off the evening was my personal favourite, and judging by the reaction, many others favourite; Deliverance. Commence hair flying all around, bodies skidding out of the pit and anticipation for that three minute closing riff that should in theory be boring but is in actual fact amazing.
Some people claim to have been put off Opeth by the “non-metal” releases lately, but judging from the sweaty, half deaf crowd surrounding me at that point, those people are in the minority. No matter if it’s the heavy or soft stuff, the band put on one of the tightest performances money can buy, and with Akerfeldt acting as ever like the comedian between songs, it’s value for the ticket price.
It’s rare to have a concert where there are no complaints at all and we so nearly made it, sadly the record attempt was ruined by two gentlemen at the front lashing out at people from the pit who bumped into them. Unfortunately a chap near the barrier wasn’t quite aware of his surroundings and instead of hitting the dude from the pit, hit innocent folk that were pushed into him by the pit. His chum shouting at some guy about crashing into him during the glorious Deliverance outro is also deserving of a shhing. There’s time to shout, and there’s time to appreciate a hell of a riff. People bumping into you can be annoying, but don’t be bigger dicks than them.
To sum up, Alcest – Good, Opeth – GOOD, pissy front row guys – bad.