October 19, 2011
Better than... your buddy's band who tries to do the same thing but should really stop trying.
When you put the needle down on an Opeth record you get the urge to sit down in an oversized chair with a bottle of red wine. The Swedish progressive metal group has lengthy songs and indulge in numerous jazz breakdowns. They're a band that sounds rich even if you're just listening to them on your iPod on the bus.
Opeth wasn't big on live appearances during the first part of their career, but the last decade has been a different story. In 2010 they were in Los Angeles for the 10 year anniversary of their fifth studio album Blackwater Park, playing it in its entirety, as well as an second set of songs from other albums.
Seeing as last year's three hour Wiltern show was so special, many folks at last night's Mayan gig were expecting something amazing. As if on cue, Mikael Akerfeldt announced that the group would perform a set of obscure songs they almost never play live.
Opeth's set flowed smoothly, swinging from death metal to jazz to experimental jams. Most of the time when a band attempts something this they're only pleasuring themselves -- while torturing their listeners. Opeth however, is one of the few groups that pulls it off, and they are a joy to hear.
They walked onto stage as a sitar track played, and opened with "The Devil's Orchard." The stage lights were perfect for the space and mood. The audience was mesmerized by "Porcelain Heart." After a jazzy acoustic break that included strong vocal harmonies and egg shakers, the Mayan's enormous disco ball slowly lowered toward the stage. Akerfeldt quipped that he felt silly continuing, as their next song was not going to be a disco song and he was a terrible dancer.
Akerfeldt introduced the song "Slither" as a homage to Ronnie James Dio, noting that there would be no Opeth without the Rainbow front man. As the 1970's salute ended, the group transitioned into "A Fair Judgment," opening with only a simple piano. The regular portion of the set closed out with the enormously rewarding jam-athon "Hex Omega."
The group returned to play "Folklore." And with that, their quite short seeming -- but actually almost two hour long -- set closed down.
Set list below.
The Devil's Orchard
I Feel The Dark
Face of Melinda
The Throat of Winter
Patterns in the Ivy II
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A Fair Judgment