Live Report - Opeth and Cynic- Bristol, 21st November 2008
Metal Reviews

Release year: 2008
Reviewed by James

Misfortune seemed to have dogged my plans to see Swedish prog-death titans Opeth, including accidentally buying a ticket to the wrong venue, losing the friend I planned to get a lift from's mobile number on the date, and being caught in a fairly lengthy traffic jams on the way there. So lengthy, in fact, that I missed The Ocean's set entirely. Indeed, I got into the venue just in time to hear Cynic kick into The Space For This, from their masterful Traced In Air comeback. Sadly, they were hampered by an entirely too quiet sound, and Opeth's stage set up pushing Sean Reinert over to the side of the stage, practically out of sight. However, the band put on one of the tightest performances I've had the good fortune to see. The setlist comprised mostly (well, practically entirely) of CD-quality renditions of Traced In Air's highlights, plus a savage version of Veil Of Maya to appease the old-school fans (Paul Masdival didn't seem to take too kindly to the shouts for Uroboric Forms throughout their set). It's just a shame their set was cut to a mere 20 minutes (!) due to the venue's ridiculous 9:45 curfew (and if any of you happened to attend the show, that was my shout of “fuck the curfew!”). Let's hope they come back soon for a full tour, and judging from the very enthusiastic response to their performance, they'd be mad not to.

But of course, Opeth were the main event there (the massive shift in audience members down the front after Cynic finished their set suggested otherwise, mind) and the venue was utterly rammed. Apparently it wasn't sold out, but quite frankly, attempting to fit anyone else in there would have been absurd. Still, I found a rather nice spot at the back (the venue was small enough that I didn't really have to worry about not getting a good view). Anyway, after a seemingly endless, watch-checking wait, the lights went down, and five men who just happen to be one of the most interesting and consistent bands of the last 10 years (of course, only Mikael Akerfeldt and Martin Mendez remain from the line-up 10 years previous) strode onto the stage and, disregarding any pleasantries, launched straight into Heir Apparent, sounding every bit as crushing as it does on record despite a few issues with the mix (Per Wilberg's keyboards were entirely too loud and shrill-sounding, fortunately this was rectified later on in the set, along with Mikael's vocals receiving a much-needed boost in volume).Of course, any of you who've seen Opeth before will know that they're hardly the most animated of bands, Per Wilberg and Martin Axenrot nearly invisible at the back of the stage, with Mendez and Akerfeldt generally limited to a bit of mild head-nodding. New guitarist Frederik Akesson seems a little livelier, mind, striding about the stage and shaking his frizzy mane furiously.

To a newcomer to the band, Opeth's setlist for this tour seems a bit, well, wacky. Aside from the obligatory selections from Watershed (And I'm pleased to say they picked the best two tracks to showcase, both Heir Apparent and The Lotus Eater going down a storm) the setlist chucked the more famous likes of The Leper Affinity and Face Of Melinda in favour of less obvious fare like Godhead's Lament and Hope Leaves. There was still the practically obligatory Demon Of The Fall/The Drapery Falls closing double hitter of course, but the setlist was definitely skewed in favour of hardcore fans. Indeed, the unusual song choices demonstrated just how good a band Opeth are, that they can play practically anything and still satisfy the punters. I can't say my favorites came up in the set (Bleak was cut from this particular show due to the curfew, argh), yet I still left the venue feeling completely satisfied. Surprise favorite moment of the night was The Grand Conjuration, a song I can't say I've paid particular attention to in its' studio incarnation, yet was utterly transformed live, its' heavy sections inspiring mayhem in the pit. Deliverance was a welcome surprise, that riff being worth the price of admission in its own right.

But the most important fact about this gig, and the band in general I suppose, is that it restored my faith in metal at a time when I was admittedly starting to waver. The forest of raised fists that met the band as the made their way to the stage, the flurry of hair and flailing limbs that greeted Deliverance's opening riff, and even Mikael coercing the crowd to do an en masse death growl reminded me why I listen to this music in the first place (even if someone apparently voiding their bowels during a particularly quiet section of The Lotus Eater was something of a mood-killer). So thank you very much, Opeth, for delivering the goods when I needed it the most.

Killing Songs :
The Grand Conjuration, Deliverance
James quoted no quote
Other albums by Live Report that we have reviewed:
Live Report - Xandria, Kobra and The Lotus, Once Human and Bullet To The Heart reviewed by Joel and quoted No Score
Live Report - Black Sabbath – The End Tour - 22nd January 2017 – Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - Queensryche, Armored Saint, Midnight Eternal reviewed by Joel and quoted No Score
Live Report - Sonata Arctica, Leaves' Eyes, Omnium Gatherum reviewed by Joel and quoted
Live Report - Circus Maximus, Imminent Sonic Destruction, Ascendia, w/ local support(Acracy) reviewed by Joel and quoted No Score
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