ABC – 14/10
On the Pale Communion tour Opeth seem determined to show that while they may be growing old, they are not growing soft.
Openers Alcest suffer at the hands of a large venue – they make music for caverns and intimate spaces, not a nightclub with Europe’s largest disco ball. Beautiful, ambient, and hypnotic to boot, the Frenchmen earn their lengthy support slot despite the location.
Both Pale Communion and Heritage present a different image of Opeth than what one might expect if you are only familiar with, say, Blackwater Park. Recent tours have seen the heavy factor replaced by melody and more conventional prog rock sounding shows.
It looks set to continue – ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’ and ‘Cusp of Eternity’ open the set. The new tracks translate to the live setting well. The band have been around for over two decades and their confidence makes these songs look easy, despite their intricacies.
But then ‘Bleak’ from Blackwater Park is played; followed by ‘The Moor’ from Still Life. And then ‘Advent’ from Morningrise – each time frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt introduces a song as “old shit” mosh-pits form and fists rise. After recent tours, it’s refreshing to find that the right balance has been struck. The new tracks complement the old ones, like ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ from Heritage leading into ‘The Lotus Eater’ from Watershed making them both sound stronger by comparison, whilst also showcasing the band’s diversity.
Opeth have never been a bad band but the last few years have seen them struggle to pick decent setlists due to the depth and variation of their stellar 20-year output. On this evening though, they nailed it.
[Scott Wilson – @HeartofFire]