Opeth - April 7, 2010 - Terminal 5, New York City, NY
By: Dan Barkasi
I remember back when Opeth toured North America for the first time, with Paradise Lost [I was there too – Paradise Lost were terrible - ed.]. They were absolutely phenomenal, but Mikael Akerfeldt was most certainly more reserved with the between song banter. They looked nervous playing in a new market for them, but portrayed their live power like few bands can do. Now, he always has a story or joke to tell. It’s been a long time since that show and Opeth have come a long way.
This year marks their 20th of being a band – an admirable feat, especially considering that they’ve continued making brilliant music without any compromise. That can’t be said for a lot of bands past their first album or two, so for Opeth to consistently release quality material for this period of time is the unfortunate exception rather than the rule. To celebrate, the band planned six special two-set shows around the world. In these shows, the landmark album Blackwater Park would be played in its entirety during their first set. For their second, they would play one song from each of their albums (sans Blackwater Park of course). I was lucky enough to attend one of these shows in New York City, and what an awe-inspiring event it was.
Terminal 5 is a decently sized venue, with two balconies and a very large floor. It had a very welcoming atmosphere and seemed to be a good choice to hold this once-in-a-lifetime show. We got a front spot on one of the balconies and tried to prepare for the monster performance that was surely imminent. When Opeth made their appearance, the place went absolutely bonkers. It was a sight to see the massive crowd on the floor moving like a wave at sea for the entire show. First off, Opeth blasted through Blackwater Park with an energy that is quite difficult to describe. No between song repartee during this set – the band flew through what some call their landmark album. It was outright incredible to see this album played front-to-back. So many songs on this release don’t see the light of day in Opeth’s usual live set, so it was a treat getting to see them in all their glory. Every song came off perfectly, as you would expect from this band.
The second set – as I mentioned before – consisted of one song from each of their albums. The best part is that they picked songs that don’t often – if ever – get played live. Before each song, Mikael gave a brief description of the album the song was from and what was going on with the band during that time period. It was a spoken word timeline of sorts that gave a lot of people an introspective Opeth history lesson, of course with Mr. Akedfeldt inserting his usual dry humor to great effect. For example, his comic belief of the crowd not caring about anything he said – all they cared to listen to was Ace of Base. Outright classic. This was certainly a special touch that made this show even more memorable. Highlights included “Forest of October,” “April Ethereal,” “The Moor,” and “Harlequin Forest.”
Opeth never leaves you wanting. I have seen this band over 15 times, and never once have they been even a little bit off. You can always rely on Opeth for a good time and one hell of a performance. After seeing them on their first tour in this part of the world, to a brief but powerful set on the inaugural Sounds of the Underground festival (where the majority of the goofs there certainly didn’t get them), to their special acoustic tour with Porcupine Tree supporting the criminally underrated Damnation album, to this 20th anniversary tour, this writer has witnessed them in many kinds of situations. However, like their musical output, they always come through. Opeth have yet again provided a special evening. For that, and the future performances that I will certainly witness, I thank you.