Venue: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London
Prog metal heroes take Ghost Reverie to the next stage
When a band makes a habit of turning nearly every show they play into a special event, you would think that loyal fans would reciprocate that generosity by playing along.
Moved to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane at the last minute from the arguably less salubrious Hammersmith Palais, Opeth’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Ghost Reveries has all the makings of a spine-tingling occasion.
And, for the most part, it delivers precisely that, not least because the band themselves are on dazzling form tonight. The only slight sprinkling of sand knocking about in our collective vagina this evening is the presence of a handful of boorish dickheads who seem hellbent on spoiling the evening for everyone else. This is a seated gig in a posh theatre for a start, and so it should go without saying that bellowing desperately unfunny remarks in between songs is a practice best avoided. Opeth are a band with a dizzying array of moods, textures and dynamics at their disposal, and while total silence would be asking a bit much – particularly since plenty of people seem to have been warming up in the pub since midday – the dribbling cretin that barks “Pop Goes The Weasel!” as Mikael Åkerfeldt is taking requests from the crowd towards the end of Opeth’s second set… well, let’s just say that if he isn’t forcibly removed from the building and given a robust kicking on the way out, he bloody should be.
As you might expect, Mikael handles the whole thing brilliantly, either piercing the buffoons’ noisy narcissism with his usual bone-dry wit or just plain ignoring it, focusing instead on the hundreds of people that are loving every sparkling second of this performance. The first half of the show is just magical: Ghost Reveries in all its destructive pomp, with everything from labyrinthine epics like Ghost Of Perdition and The Baying Of The Hounds through to Atonement’s prolonged psychedelic voyage and the final, heartbreaking fragility of Isolation Years sounding somehow even fuller and more emotionally incisive than in their original studio incarnations. Hearing songs like Beneath The Mire – never performed live before this tour – and the elegant, haunting Hours Of Wealth is a rare privilege, and with the added bonus of a subtly atmospheric stage set replete with candelabras (“…with cheap Ikea bulbs!” notes Mikael), even the witless baying of the few, aforementioned morons can’t puncture our happy reverie. And if anyone is still smarting from Opeth’s alleged relinquishing of their metal hearts, The Grand Conjuration proves a telling moment, as a large number of people start headbanging frantically in their seats. The power of Satan compels them, and it’s a beautiful thing.