I have seen a lot of bands live in the three decades that I have existed on this rock in space. The only band that I’ve seen nearly a dozen times is Opeth. To say that they’re my favorite band is an understatement. I first saw them when they were on the Blackest of Black tour back in 2003. They only played two songs but it was amazing. I have caught them nearly every time that they came through the valley. On the rare chance that they didn’t come directly through the Phoenix area then I would usually travel to a neighboring city to see them. With the release of Sorceress earlier this year it was time for Opeth to embark on their world tour.
Their support for this trek came from the Sword. I’m mildy familiar with them – I played the song “Freya” on Guitar Hero II when that was all the rage. I did get familiar with their catalog in preparation for the show but stoner metal is really not my thing. They certainly were no slouch on stage but I couldn’t really tell you anything about the songs that they played. Each one kind of blended into each other in a stoner haze.
Martin Mendez, Martin Axenrot, and Joakim Svalberg were the first to the stage for the introduction of Sorceress. Once the heavy guitars came in Mikael Akerfeldt and Fredrik Akesson hammering the heavy chords.
I read about how Akerfeldt was not really singing any of their older material with growls and if he was then it didn’t sound great vocally. I wasn’t expecting any older songs with growls in them but they surprised me with “Ghost of Perdition”. Akerfeldt sounded great growling. Whatever his issues were in the past seem to be alleviated now.
The show continued with a healthy mix of their back catalog and cuts from Sorceress. They played staples like “Demon of the Fall”, “The Drapery Falls”, and “In My Time of Need”. Everyone was on point with Akerfeldt doing his usual hilarious banter. A special moment in the show came when just before their final song “Hex Omega” Akerfeldt asked the audience what they should play. Of course it was a cacophony of shouts but he took to each side of the venue and played what was suggested. He heard someone say “Windowpane” and teased us with a few bars. Someone shouted out “Black Rose Immortal” and they played a few bars from there. They even did a version of “Bleak”. This was all in good fun with Akerfeldt excusing their fuck ups since these songs are pretty obscure.
The show ended with a rousing encore with “Deliverance”. At the end of the show my fiancé scored some great items. She caught a pick thrown by Akerfeldt with her boobs. She wrestled a drumstick that was thrown by Axenrot from someone’s hands off of the ground. And she got the set list with a handful of Opeth branded guitar picks from a friendly stage hand. Opeth has never disappointed when it comes to a live performance and I can’t wait to see them again.