February 26, 2006

Opeth Chronology - New York City

A friend and I flew to NYC to see Swedish progressive death metal act Opeth play at the Town Hall theatre near Times Square. The venue was quite impressive - well maintained, smallish multi-level theatre, with great views of the stage all around, and the sound quality (finally!) was decent. Too often I've felt that their stage sound was muddy, but this time, other than some relatively minor level issues, it was much clearer than on past tours.

This event was part of 3 special shows, "Chronology MCMXCIV - MMV, A live Observation by Opeth", in NYC, LA, and Chicago -- seated venues, where Opeth would play a 2 1/2 hour set going through their 12 year album career -- all 8 albums.

Here's the setlist. Ballet Deviare opened, which was entertaining - four dancers strutting to Opeth's Deliverance.

(The following is a variation on what I wrote on the Opeth message board). It's been a great time watching Opeth grow into a world class live presence. I remember in January 2003 watching Opeth play Toronto's Opera House, and they were so nervous.. in such a short time they've gotten so much more relaxed, tighter and confident. (All that's left is hoping that their main drummer, Lopez gets better!)

I thought this show put the band on a different level. Genres of music entertain in different ways. What makes Opeth special is that they have the ability to hit the intensity of death metal and also those "sublime" moments that one only gets with great progressive rock like Pink Floyd. This was the first time (for me) they hit both moments in spades. Between The Amen Corner, White Cluster, Deliverance, and Ghost of Perdition, the energy in the room was peaked. And in terms of sublime moments, I would have to say that A Fair Judgement and Closure were tops. The middle section of Closure, where Per does his keyboard solo and Mikael doodles on the guitar just elevated the show to another level, it was like watching a great Jazz band or Prog Art Rock band at work. I'm not sure how they can top this show, short of replicating it on a larger scale.

A number of older fans are complaining about the setlist lacking older material. Frankly, a lot of those old songs are repetitious, meandering, and not very entertaining to see live -- they're meant for personal enjoyment on headphones. There are lots of great Opeth songs, and the ones they chose are some of their best, including some that we haven't heard very often. Yes, there is a place for yesterday, but we are dealing with a band that is arguably getting better with every album release...

Posted by stu at February 26, 2006 07:00 AM