Review: Opeth – SWG3, Glasgow

Having just recently released their 13th studio album, “In Cauda Venenum”, Opeth make a welcome return to Glasgow to support their latest critically acclaimed prog opus. I have to admit that I’m one of those fans that prefers the earlier growlier and more death metal sounding albums. The high point for me being the period between Blackwater Park (2001) and Watershed (2008). However I think the new album is probably the best of the newer proggier style albums that started with “Heritage” back in 2011. While a band’s change in direction has the potential to alienate and lose fans, the packed venue tonight shows that it hasn’t really been detrimental to Opeth’s career.

The Vintage Caravan, Opeth It’s always nice to discover new bands and support act “The Vintage Caravan” were new to me before I had learned that they were in the opening slot on this tour. When I heard the name I was expecting the band to be stoner doom but they have more of a classic rock/psychedelic rock vibe going on. I can hear some Hendrix and Led Zeppelin influences in there. Singer/guitarist Oskar is quite the showman with his long hair flailing around and he has a look that probably wouldn’t have been out of place on stage at Woodstock. When I watch him preform it immediately reminds me of an interview with BB King where he said “My wife Martha used to call me Ol’ Lemon Face because of my facial contortions when I play Lucille. I squeeze my eyes and open my mouth, raise my eyebrows, cock my head and God knows what else. I look like I’m in torture, when in truth, I’m in ecstasy”. Oskar seems to have gone to the BB school of facial contortionists when it comes to his pentatonic blues rock inspired guitar solo’s. Bass player Alexander bounds around the stage keeping the groove and puts his heart into even the simplest of bass lines. “It’s good to be back in Glasgow…this one includes a bass solo just to warn you” jokes Alexander before they launch into “Carousel”. Due to Opeth’s stage set taking up the majority of the stage drummer Stefán’s kit has been relegated to a small area at the front right of the stage. The rest of the band don’t have much room either but they make the most of it and move around the space they have. Even though it’s an early start tonight, the band’s set started at the un-rock and roll hour of 6:45pm, Glasgow has still turned out in large numbers to see them. They’re a good choice of opener and their 45 minute set goes down well with the crowd this evening.

Between bands roadies run around the stage getting everything ready for the main act of the night. Watching them unveil the stage I have to say I was feeling a bit underwhelmed. The drums and keyboards sat on plain black risers and there was no backdrop just a blackened wall. However when the Swedish prog-metal titans that are Opeth kick into the first song “Dignity” the whole stage comes alive. The risers and backdrop, once black and lifeless, project images to accompany the complex and intricate musical arrangements. Images of forests, falling stars, and flames all feature throughout the gig.

OpethMichael comes on stage sporting a wide brimmed Spanish looking black hat which reminds me partly of Zorro and partly of the creepy old preacher in Poltergeist 2. I’ve a feeling that he may prefer the first comparison over the latter. His vocals are, as always, perfect. Purely on a musicianship level you cannot fault Opeth.

The selection of songs contains tracks that have more interesting ideas, changes of pace and dynamics, than many bands will manage to fit within an entire album of material. It’s when the band start the second song “The Leper Affinity” that the crowd really start going crazy. A pit is formed and it has to be one of the highlights of the night for me. As much as I enjoy hearing the newer material it’s the brutality of songs like “The Lotus Eater”, “Deliverance” and the beautiful “Hope Leaves” that really bring a smile to my face. The crowd is full of cheeky banter tonight and Michael takes it in his stride as he chats to everyone in his usual laid back softly spoken Scandinavian accent. He tells us about his day off in Glasgow where he tried haggis, how Fredrik the guitarist is always twiddling his knobs, that almost every song is a bit of curve ball, and that the stage is so tight he’s worried he’ll fall off. The rapport between the band and the audience at an Opeth gig is one of the reasons I enjoy them so much live. They finish the night off with a storming version of “Deliverance”. The end to a perfect evening. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Opeth but they never disappoint. Another immensely enjoyable gig from one of the top tier metal bands around.

Review – Martin Patterson

Images – Lara Vischi



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