A must see tour, exactly what you want to hear and more.
Anathema remain a mystery to me so I can only really sum up their performance using the words that a fan shouted at me during Opeth's set: "What are you still doing here, Anathema have finished? Best band. Brilliant!" There may have been some slurring and expletives that I've edited out of the quote but it seems Anathema fans got exactly what they desired.
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One answer to the Anathema fan's question was simple, to find out if this tour was all about Opeth's heritage, or 'Heritage'.
Starting this journey in 'The Devil's Orchard' left me asking if God is indeed dead. After the song I found myself admiring vocalist Åkerfeldt's luxuriant moustache and its thicker than ever appearance. I absent mindedly noticed a warm welcome from a crowd that had found a little spirit and shaken the occasional fist in response. As the song ended, a brief comedic digression began.
Following the strongest track from 'Heritage' with 'Ghost Of Perdition' filled my heart with hope and joy. For me, Opeth were off to a flying start, ticking off a new track and following it with an older one. The movement of heads and fists in the rest of the audience told me that my opinion was a popular one. Åkerfeldt had joked they only put the track second because it was hard to play and they wanted to get it out the way.
"Cliché, it's good to be back", said Åkerfeldt in his typically dry wit.
Opeth were not just back but blasting the crowd with both barrels of an incredible back catalogue. Åkerfeldt was on fine form, critiquing 90s Metal in comparison to the superior 80s, taunting the crowd with his knowledge of British bands and asking if they had listened to supposed classics recently. With anyone else, you could expect to pay for the kind of chatter he throws in between songs.
It was only the quality of the songs that made us all want less of it. Including favourites like 'Hope Leaves' and 'Burden' amongst their heavier tracks was inspired genius that could only serve to please.
The band occasionally took those favourites on a journey to new places without ever leaving home.
Seeing Opeth is not a loud group experience equivalent of watching a DVD. The humour and small talk, the variation and thought they put into creating a perfectly hewn set makes every gig a unique and satisfying experience that I can't find words to recommend highly enough.
I prefer Opeth on the small stage like at Rock City in Nottingham but they haven't disappointed when I've watched them at festivals either.
If tonight's set list is typical, this is a must see tour. It's good to be an Opeth fan, especially when you get exactly what you want.