Opeth, Mastodon, and Ghost
Better than...being stuck in a Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.
We had a bit of trepidation about seeing Mastodon live last night. We've seen them put on a great show, we've seen them put on a lackluster show; you never know for sure which Mastodon you are going to get. Luckily tonight, the crowd at Gibson Amphitheatre got the awesome Mastodon.
Metal fans were psyched when it was announced that Mastodon and Opeth -- two of the most powerful forces in modern metal -- were joining up for a co-headline tour. Many of those fans rejoiced yet again when it was announced that the opener would be Swedish occult-rockers Ghost.Ghost opened the show on a theatrical note. As the band of nameless ghouls in monk costumes cranked out metallic rock not all that different from a Blue Oyster Cult tour in the '70s, vocalist Papa Emeritus was decked out in his extravagant evil Pope costume, casting spells on everyone in the crowd. Their brand of melodic throwback rock garnered a great crowd response.
Mastodon was up next; they fucking killed it. On their 2011 album The Hunter, they stripped away some of the proggier tendencies they developed on their previous couple of albums, and cranked out tight 3-to-4-minute bursts. Concentrating heavily on songs from their latest album, all of these jams seemed beefier live. Their more ambitious vocal melodies sounded excellent, and Bill Kelliher's guitar work also stood out tonight, particularly his solo during "Spectrelight."
After the sheer raw power of Mastodon's set, Swedish metal veterans Opeth closed the show. Over the last few years, band leader Mikael Akerfeldt has steered Opeth from a death metal band with proggish overtones into a full-blown 70s-style prog-rock band.
This sound was in full display last night, with a set list mostly culled from their 2011 album, Heritage. The band's musicianship was very workmanlike, but their current sound combined with their subdued stage presence -- very rarely straying from fixed positions on stage -- did make for a slightly anticlimactic comedown after the "we're here to rock your socks off" fire of Mastodon.
Opeth did finally get into the spirit about fifty minutes into their set, but some small pockets of crowd attrition had already occurred. We are fans of the current Opeth sound, but with Mastodon fucking bringing it tonight, we're not sure that was the right set list to close the show with.
Personal Bias: I am a big fan of Mastodon and Opeth, but it was the prospect of seeing Ghost again that really put this over the top as a "must-see" show for me.
The Crowd: As noted on a friend's Facebook page: "Mastodon, Opeth, Ghost -- where hipsters meet metalheads."
Notebook Dump: When the tour is named after the most recent albums by Opeth and Mastodon ("The Heritage Hunter Tour"), don't bitch that the bands aren't playing enough of "the classic shit."
Set lists below.