Sydney Opera House, NSW
February 6th, 2017
An Evening of Sorcery, Damnation and Deliverance – The tour that proved to be a once in a life time opportunity for any Opeth fan and would see one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks filled with metal heads. With everyone sat in their seats, beers in hand, we were initially blown away by the masterpiece that is the title track of the band’s latest record Sorceress. Shortly after fans of the bands old death metal style would not be disappointed as they followed up with ‘Ghost of Perdition’.
There is a lot of controversy over the bands artistic change of direction after the release of Heritage, some claiming the change was due to front man Mikael Akerfeldt being incapable of performing the death metal vocals older fans know and love. Being a huge fan of their older releases I was beyond stoked to hear these accusations proven wrong. His vocal performance was flawless.
While a large portion of their set consisted of tracks from the Deliverance & Damnation records, they also reached back to their early, slightly black metal influenced material from My Arms, Your Hearse from which they played ‘Demon of the Fall’.
As all bands do when performing live, Opeth made some slight changes to some songs. Whether it be a rearrangement or a simple change of outro. What really grabbed my attention was the transition between ‘Cusp of Eternity’ and ‘Heir Apparent’. They ended ‘Cusp of Eternity’ the same way they did at Wacken Open Air Festival, only the third chord was changed to the brutal, twisted and broken sounding opening to ‘Heir Apparent’. No one saw it coming, yet I doubt anyone would have complained.
One of the highlights of the aural side of the performance was the addition of keys to the pre-Ghost Reveries tracks. Keyboardist Joakim Svalberg added his own solos to quite a few songs, the most impressive of which added to ‘Closure’ in an early section of the song that’s usually driven by a heavily dissonant guitar riff.
The outro of ‘Closure’ was quite remarkable as well. Where ex-drummer Martin Lopez had originally composed a South American style passage, Martin Axenrot played a 70’s prog style beat so polyrhythmic that Neil Peart himself would have shat bricks simply trying to comprehend the syncopation.
Outside the music itself Mikael was up to his usual antics; making jokes between songs, telling everyone about his record collection and where he draws his inspiration from and, of course, making a note of the fact that Steven Wilson wrote the lyrics for their song ‘Death Whispered a Lullaby’. At this point I yelled out “Storm Corrossion!” and to my amazement he actually took the time to remember a riff from a Storm Corrosion song called ‘Drag Ropes’.
A couple of other interactive highlights from the night:
- Someone yelled out “I love you Slipknot” and so Mikael began referring to the crowd as Austrians
- Another person made the iconic Chewbacca noise and Mikael’s response was “What the fuck was that? A fucking Wallaby?”
All in all this show was fucking incredible. The atmosphere of the Opera House worked a bit too well with the stylistic characteristics of Opeth. It wasn’t all about the music with Mikael taking the time to give details, make jokes or just talking shit. The band closed with their song ‘Deliverance’ which made for a perfect ending, catering for all fans whether they prefer the bands old death metal style or the softer, new age prog Opeth.
Review by Jackson Calcutt
Ghost of Perdition
Demon of the Falls
The Wilde Flowes
Face of Melinda
The Devils Orchard
Cusp of Eternity
The Drapery Falls
Death Whispered a Lullaby
In My Time of Need
By the Pain I see in Others