As soon as this Opeth tour was announced, euphoria took over all metalhead related social media. Shortly after, Katatonia was added to the bill and then Swedish victory on Australian shores was certain.
When the day of the gig finally arrived, a few interesting teasers suggested this would be indeed a night to remember. First the fact that Katatonia would play for one hour, and then Opeth would play for two hours. OK, I know, Opeth-wise two hours means about four songs, but sill, value for money, huh? Second, the incredibly long queue snaking into the alleys behind the venue – hundreds of punters with shining starts in their eyes, ready for a night of progressive aggression.
Katatonia took to the stage sharply at 8pm and just smashed it. Sounding perfectly clear on the PA, they presented their new album ‘Dead End Kings’ through the beautiful single ‘Buildings’. Continuing with a set-list heavily based on the past four albums, they pleased the audience with their impossible-to-label melancholic blend of metal, doom and gothic with shades of alternative. From this exquisite warm up, one could tell that this was a night dedicated to the true art of making music.
Opeth then came next and quickly matched all expectations and justified all the frenzy. A carefully executed rendition of ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ took the crowd back to the magical golden years of prog-rock, while ‘Ghost of Perdition’ shows why Opeth is so unique. They’ve blended harsh with smooth, furious with calm as if bipolar was the new normal, showing that they’ve mastered what many others have tried with varying degrees of success. ‘White Cluster’ followed and excitement went to the roof. Again Mikael sang and growled effortlessly, and the band’s professional and polite posture on stage was remarkable. If ‘Hope Leaves’ might not have been a surprise, the obscure – according to the man himself – ‘Atonement’ was, and a quite pleasant one.
Introduced with an invitation to headbang – something Mikael used to when he was “younger”, according to him – ‘Deliverance’ followed, tacked together with ‘Hessian Peel’. We’re then back to the latest album ‘Heritage’ with the smooth ‘Häxprocess’, and then the highlight of the night, the acoustic version of ‘Demon of the Fall’, that should have been renamed to goose bumps feast. Last but not least was ‘Harlequin Forest’, and after a short break, encore kicked-off with Mikael introducing the band with witty remarks and then the most expected song from their most seminal opus, the magnificently crafted ‘Blackwater Park’ – and the whole place looked as if the concert had just started.
Long story short, these were not musicians merely unleashing their angst into the crowd. These were artists, carefully displaying their talents as if painting a portrait live, in front of thousands astonished observers. In addition to that, this concert proved that you could travel in time to three different decades all in one night, and sometimes even in one song. Finally, headbanging and odd time signatures, growls and whispers, demons and wizards can all coexist in one magical space, in three magical hours.
Burn the Remembrance
The Racing Heart
Ghost of the Sun
Day and Then the Shade
The Devil’s Orchard
Ghost of Perdition
Demon of the Fall (Acoustic)
Photos By John Raptis