The first time I saw Opeth live was last summer, as they were one of the support acts of Judas Priest. Even though this live was amazing, the burning sun and the stage by the sea do not provide the proper environment to enjoy Opeth fully. They need dark and smoke in order for their music to create the right atmosphere. When I heard that they would be coming to Athens a few months later for the promotion of “Heritage” I knew that this was it.
So, last Sunday at 19:30 I arrived at Fuzz. I didn't meet a lot of people there, but the show wouldn't start until 21:30, so we had plenty of time to gather. And yes, by that time the venue was almost full. A few minutes after 21:30 the lights dimmed and an intro started playing. One by one Opeth came out and the warmest applause went of course to Mikael Akerfeldt.The first thing we heard was the opening notes from “The Devil's Orchard” and the next moment everybody was cheering and headbanging and, at the right time, nobody missed the “God is dead” line. There is no doubt that this is one of the best songs of “Heritage” and the fans love it. After that, we passed very quickly to “I Feel The Dark”, another great song from the last album and I have to say that both these songs, they sound great on the album, but they sound even greater when played live. It was time for a break, and Akerfeldt took the opportunity and turned the concert into a stand-up comedy show, as he usually does. How else could he introduce the band than “We are Otep from America!”? When he asked what to play next, the fans yelled so many songs, and he decided to tease us by playing the beginning of “Bleak”. Before we could get excited he stopped and he played another oldie instead. The magnificent “Face Of Melinda”. Another break and Akerfeldt was blabbering again. He told us about Dio's bands and how he likes a specific song by Elf. “Slither” followed, inspired by and dedicated to Dio. Then, it was time to take a trip to the past, and specifically to 1998, with “Credence” from “My Arms, Your Hearse”. Not many expected it and not many were familiar with it, but we all enjoyed it. “Damnation” couldn't be left out, so “To Rid The Disease” came next and it was simply magical. The song ended and Akerfeldt started his jokes again! We got into a discussion about traditional music instruments and we had the pleasure to learn that he unsuccessfully tried to make the bouzouki sound evil. So he decided to stick to the swedish folk stuff and he played a traditional melody which lead to “Folklore” of course. A whole hour had passed, and it became clear that the setlist was divided in two parts. Up until then we hadn't heard a single grunt from Akerfeldt. All the songs were close to progressive rock and quite mellow, but it was time for the heavier stuff. Akerfeldt may want to follow a more '70s progressive path, but he's still got it with the brutal vocals. “Heir Apparent” literally blew us away and Fuzz transformed from one minute to another. Crazy headbanging and mosh-pits, that's what you saw. “The Grand Conjuration” made things even crazier. Even if you wanted, I don't believe that at that moment it was possible to remain calm and not be be drugged by Opeth. Around that time, Mikael told us that Martin “the octopus” Axenrot, the drummer, had his birthday the next day, so we sang “Happy Birthday” to him. The lighting operator, who had his birthday too, had to be content with a simple “congrats”, Mikael's orders again. “The Drapery Falls”, from the masterpiece “Blackwater Park”, with its beautiful alternations, closed the set. But this wasn't the end. For the encore, Opeth had a gift for us, and it was “Deliverance”. A perfect, bombastic ending. At 23:30, the lights were on, and we all dragged ourselves out of Fuzz, having a huge smile on our faces.
So, what do I have to say about this live? Not much. The band was well rehearsed and played all the songs perfectly. The sound was amazing. The setlist was balanced and almost every album was represented. Everyone was in a great mood. The fans participated to the fullest, whether that was with headbanging or by answering to Mikael's jokes. And yes, Mikael was very, very talkative. I don't know how many were annoyed by that, but I find it a basic element of Opeth's lives. I had such a great time and I'm sure that most of the fans in Fuzz would agree with me. I can only look forward for the next time. Opeth promised that it won't be too far.