The level of musicianship possessed by Opeth is truly amazing. New York City got to witness that firsthand when the Scandic metal band took the Irving Plaza stage mid-July.
Lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt summed it up best when he said, “Hi, we are Opeth, a Swedish death metal band. For those that have seen us, you know that we can really bring it.” That they most certainly did, but not quite how you would expect. Rather than raucously tearing through a fiery set of thunderous death metal, Opeth smoothly grooved through a perfect set of their softer jazz-influenced prog songs.
Playing mostly tracks off of their newest release, Damnation, Akerfeldt and company received a warm reception from the New York crowd. A few hecklers were obviously upset over the lack of ‘hard’ songs but they were quickly shushed by the awed majority.
While Damnation tracks like “Windowpane” and “Death whispered a lullaby” were appreciated by the crowd, the songs that got the best reactions were all older songs that most thought they would never heard played live. Opeth perfectly rendered “To bid you farewell” and “Face of Melinda” to the obvious pleasure of the audience. To top it all off, they threw into the set a pristine cover of Deep Purple‘s “Soldier of Fortune“.
Opeth‘s hour and a half set was preceded by the band Porcupine Tree. The British prog rock band is lead by vocalist/guitarist Steven Wilson, who also produced Opeth‘s Damnation. Wilson, who played barefoot for some reason, led his group in an atmospheric set of tunes that could easily have been Rush, Yes or Anathema tracks. However, they weren’t, and many of the songs had long riffs that seemingly went nowhere, used a lot of echo and distortion and yet was embraced by their small group of loyal supporters that were present.
While this show would have been better placed in a nightclub setting rather than the standing-room-only confines of Irving Plaza, by placing it there a larger amount of fans were able to bear witness to the best musicianship to grace New York City outside of Carnegie Hall.