When Opeth announced plans last year to celebrate their 25 year anniversary with a show at the London Palladium, it sounded like a musical match made in heaven. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago and it was announced due to production issues the show was having to move to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane – one legendary venue swapped for another. It mattered not, as despite an almighty balls up over communication and tickets, come 7:30pm on the 18th of October a sold out crowd awaited Opeth with enormous anticipation.
Playing Ghost Reveries in full was never going to be anything less than a knock out and so it proved. Every note in the opening Ghost Of Perdition? soared, with a sound system tuned to perfection in a venue with amazing acoustics. Baying Of The Hounds threatened to shake the Theatre Royals foundations, while an extended version of Atonement had the crowd utterly transfixed with its perfection. The quality stayed absolutely magnificent throughout Ghost Reveries’ hour plus length, with Hours Of Wealth sounding even more soulful courtesy of Mikael Akerfeldt’s majestic vocal performance, while things were toned down very effectively for the album closing Isolation Years.
In addition to the musical clinic being given with Opeth’s performance, Mikael Akerfeldt’s legendary dry sense of humour was also firing on all cylinders. “Sorry about the clusterfuck. My fault. Palladium wasn’t posh enough” was the pick of the introductory remarks. Later he admonished a heckler with bad language observing “isn’t this a royal theatre?…..C***” to enormous laughter. Faced with a tremendous amount of interaction from the audience (sometimes straying from good natured into tedious or downright stupid) Akerfeldt conducted the show masterfully, putting 25 years of practice to good use.
After interval beverages and ice cream (it was the theatre after all) Opeth resumed with some newer favourites like Eternal Rains Will Come and a stunning Cusp Of Eternity. There was a nod to their last London album playthrough at the 20th anniversary show with Blackwater Park’s The Leper Affinity, which was equally as popular as a between song sprint through various song snippets like Bleak (performed “Skynyrd style”) and Face Of Melinda. Nothing in the second half proved as popular as the closing encore of The Lotus Eater, with the cleanly sung parts echoing back at Opeth from virtually everyone in attendance, and THAT distinctive bridge riff will have never sounded so crisp as it did tonight.
Put aside all the troubles in the build up, this was every bit the magical evening that was imagined when the show was first announced. That Opeth managed to live up to the absurdly high expectations held against them was quite the achievement. Like their 2010 two decades Royal Albert Hall celebration, this night at Drury Lane will live long in the memory. A toast to Mikael and the rest of Opeth: After twenty five years (and counting), here’s to many, many more years to come.
The full Opeth Setlist was:
Ghost Reveries (part one of the evening)
Ghost of Perdition
The Baying of the Hounds
Beneath the Mire
Hours of Wealth
The Grand Conjuration
Part two of the evening:
Eternal Rains Will Come
Cusp of Eternity
The Leper Affinity
To Rid the Disease
Jam – snippets of Bleak, Face of Melinda, The Moor and other songs
I Feel the Dark
Voice of Treason
The Lotus Eater
9 / 10
Was this recorded?
I don’t think so 🙁 hopefully they recorded one elsewhere on the tour
Interesting you said the mix was good from the start, I was sat on the balcony (VERY high!) and the mix was really bad until Harlequin Forest when it finally got sorted out. After that it sounded good – i wish I’d had a better seat for the whole thing though, it was a great show 🙂
I was on the balcony too, I think the sound was designed for the lower levels because keyboard parts and the growling were a little on the quiet all the way through, and the Base drum to start was terrible. Quickly sorted though
Mikes growls were so poor I wondered if they’d deliberately kept them lower in the mix (balcony again. Left hand side)
We were seated on the floor, left side. I thought the sound seemed a little out of balance during the “loud” parts – while the syncopated and quieter parts were awesome. Full shred on Baying of the hounds sounded muffled from were I sat, and Mikael’s growls and leads were way too low compared to Åkesson’s, not to mention the, at times, really loud keyboards. It got better, and I thought the second set had better sound.
One hell of a show! 😀