I think this goes without saying, but gig of the year. By god, gig of the year. When a band like Opeth announce an anniversary tour with a stop in a historic venue like the London Palladium (later to change venue), you get a ticket and worry about the travel later. As you may have guessed, it was well worth the trip down south.
With the evening being billed as An Evening With Opeth on the tickets there no support acts to be seen, just several hours of Swedish prog metal. This meant that when doors opened, it wasn’t long until Opeth took to the stage. This came as rather a shock as we were still standing at the bar when a member of staff shouted “two minutes until stage time.” A rapid purchase and rush to the seats got us in just as the lights dimmed. This meant we weren’t to appreciate the full spectacle of the venue itself until a mid-show break.
The main selling point of the tour was the fact they were playing Ghost Reveries in full due to it being the tenth anniversary of the record. The second point was a second set, spanning their career as it was the twenty fifth anniversary of the band as a whole. The only question really was what would come first.
Poster purely because of the pretty, pretty logo
The fake candles littering the stage certainly hinted towards the answer, but it was confirmed a minute later when the opening strums for Ghost of Perdition played out. Having spent my days going to standing gigs, it was a very strange sensation hearing this crushing death metal riff while sitting calmly in a classy theatre, clad in a suit jacket (we’re not animals, it’s the theatre!). It’s interesting to see how people react when they can’t jump into a pit, and the overall consensus seemed to be “drum the fuck out of your thighs.”
Ghost of Perdition contains my all time favourite guitar note, so I was particularly happy with this set opener. They then worked their way through the album order, taking enough breaks for Akerfeldt to continue his comedy career. The sound itself was fantastic, at least where I was sitting (stalls, row F) though the view left something to be desired, with the PA stack blocking out any sign of Joakim on keys. However, the views of the rest of the band were spot on, with the only problem being one large bald mans head for a brief period of time.
After burning through Ghost Reveries (Harlequin Forest and Baying of the Hounds deserve special mention) they took a brief break to remove the candles and allow the crowd to go and piss out the most expensive beer in the land. A two quid upgrade to a double jack and coke did not seem like value for money in the light of day.
Another year, another fancy London venue
During this we could finally look over the venue and it really was the perfect setting for the band. It had previously been in the Palladium but changed with two weeks to go to the Theatre Royal (which Akerfeldt delighted in saying “cunts” in as it was a Royal venue). With all the history and the architecture in the venue, it seemed a shame that there were no cameras to capture the moment – Though it’s a long tour in many other nice venues so something should hopefully make an appearance.
Set two was the career spanner set, it was therefore a little surprising to hear three songs off of Pale Communion and nothing from Still Life and the early records. Saying that, I really like Pale Communion so I wasn’t too upset, it just felt poorly advertised. Perhaps the band felt the same, as they ended up playing snippets of songs like Face of Melinda, Bleak and more. The clean, almost disco sound of Bleak could be a hint towards a disco sound for the next album, or perhaps it was just the band pissing about. I’ll assume the latter.
While set one had a fair amount of banter, set two is when the real audience interaction began. Members of the crowd would shout out songs, they would take a suggestion, play a section then “forget that one” much to the amused disappointment of the crowd who thought they might be getting a full song (I’m looking at you, Face of Melinda).
Ending on The Lotus Eater the night sadly came to an end despite feeling like it had only been an hour. The overall experience for me was near enough perfect. There’s something about seeing this sort of music in a beautiful old venue that just boosts the music that bit more than if it had been in a bog standard hall.
Akerfeldts voice sounded good as well. I know it’s the fashion to say he’s not as good as he used to be, but if people think ten/twenty five years of solid work doesn’t affect your body, the aging process is going to scare the shit out of them.
The only disappointment was the lack of merchandise, having sold out of a lot of it by the time they got to us, but hopefully that can be made up for online shortly. And of course not finishing, Face of Melinda. Teasing bastards.