It is just the third night of what will inevitably be a long sprawling ‘Pale Communion’ tour for Opeth. A sizeable, but not quite packed out Nottingham crowd, awaits the return of the band to Rock City and we’re confident they’ll allow us all to enjoy our weekend right up to the very end. That sinking Sunday evening feeling is postponed until the early hours at least.
A short intro and a typically understated entrance kick off proceedings as the elegant ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’ is the first in line to take us into a musical dreamland. The more angular ‘Cusp of Eternity’ follows in keeping with the album before we take a jump back to the formidable ‘Bleak’ complete with the death metal roars to ease the anxiety of the old-school hardliners.
The set undulates between the mellow and the heavy throughout the night. Mikael and his bandmates make the transition from dreamy soundscapes to the barking mad eruption of death metal seem easy and more importantly… completely natural. The setlist is “A Potpourri of songs” with something for everyone. It still smells like Rock City though.
Fresh from playing London’s legendary Roundhouse last night; Rock City offers a rather more modest setting for tonight’s master class. Regardless of the surroundings, Opeth create an experience of sound and vision that is nothing short of hypnotic.
From the oversized banner depicting the detailed ‘Pale Communion’ artwork in all it’s fine detail, the extended lighting rig that boosts Rock City’s famous orange and red glow to a spectrum of colours and patterns and of course, the flawless catalogue of songs. It all makes for a pretty beautiful and absorbing experience.
It’s all required “To stop us looking like a bunch of bums from Stockholm” apparently. There is no chance of that tonight; they’ll be treated like the Royalty they are.
‘April Ethereal’ is an unexpected heavy point in the set and ‘The Moor’ gets heads banging away too. The luscious ‘Windowpane’ and ‘Lotus Eater’ both contrast and compliment the heavier tracks at the same time. It’s a wonderful time to see Opeth live right now.
Mikael’s usual dry between song banter is often just as big a highlight as the songs themselves and he doesn’t disappoint tonight. After victoriously announcing that it will soon be Opeth’s 25th birthday, he regales the crowd with tales of his day:
“I went to the castle today… it’s pretty shit!”
A knowing laugh from the crowd tells you all you need to know about one of Nottingham’s premier tourist attractions.
An encore simply consisting of the awesome ‘Deliverance’ is a natural climax to a brilliant night. The epic track rises and falls mirroring the pattern of the set tonight; but when it’s heavy… it sure is heavy. The chop-saw riff is appreciated by a sea of headbangers and it makes the encore worth the entrance fee alone. A crowning moment on a magical night in the company of these Kings.
Tonight is a truly mesmerising performance by one of the greatest bands to ever grace heavy music. If you listened to the keyboard warriors and trolls who are so quick to comment on everything that this band does, then you’d imagine that Opeth were no longer worth following. There are plenty of beaming faces in attendance tonight who might just know better however….
It seems the rumours of Opeth’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.