Opeth / Katatonia @ Guelph Concert Theater, Guelph ON, April 26, 2013

Opeth

Live review by Sean Palmerston; Concert photos by Mike Bax, lithiummagazine.com

It was a Friday night not to be missed: one of my favourite Swedish metal bands playing as close to my house as they’ve ever been. Again.

I kicked myself last time around when I opted out and decided against going to see Opeth and Katatonia play just up Highway 6 in Guelph at the Guelph Concert Theater. Having never been to the venue, I had been told it didn’t have great sightlines so I decided against it, only to regret my decision. My friends were raving for days afterwards about the venue being intimate and small with a decent view almost everywhere, so this time when it was announced both bands were coming back I figured I’d better go.

Katatonia
has been a point of frustration with me for the past few albums. While I like what they have been doing since becoming a more melodic metal act, I have never clicked with any of their modern albums in the same way I did with Brave Murder Day and Discouraged Ones nearly fifteen years ago. A lot of that had to with the production on the new albums I discovered after seeing them play some of their newer tracks live. The newer songs seemed to take on a new life live, with the guitar tones exhibiting just enough grit that I’ve had to go back and revisit their most recent album this past week. A nice surprise.

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After hearing mixed reviews of the previous Opeth show here at the beginning of the Heritage tour cycle, I was more than prepared for the possibility that this could have been a very mellow, more prog rock set than the other times I have seen them. This wasn’t really something that concerned me, for I have always been of the opinion that Heritage is a fantastic album. I was delighted when they opened the set with an excellent rendition of “The Devil’s Orchard”, but I was absolutely over the moon when they followed it up immediately with “Ghost of Perdition” and, this was a real shocker, “White Cluster” off Still Life. I wasn’t expecting anything that old to be played at all, so witnessing this live was a wonderful thing.

The set continued on with a few more gems as well: Damnation track “Hope Leaves” was a nice surprise, but hearing them do “Demon Of the Fall” in an acoustic format was simply stunning. It was something completely unexpected. The set ended with a rousing version of “Blackwater Park”, something I was hoping they’d do but didn’t actually imagine they would. Yes, for me personally this was a good night.

I’d feel amiss if I didn’t mention how Mr. Akerfeldt remains one of the funniest front men in metal music. His dry sense of humour is really very Scandinavian but it is also so hilarious. If someone were to put out a record of just his in-between banter I’d buy it! He had a few zingers this evening: making Axe play 12 bars of a Root song with him when a fan upfront yelled for “Freebird” (!), making his lead guitarist do the Rudolf Schenker backwards strut and claiming it as important as Chuck Berry’s duck walk or Abbath’s crab walk, and – the funniest part of the night to me – singling out my pal that I went to the show with for being from Gothenburg, Sweden. My pal Mikael had been yelling at them in Swedish all night, so just before “Haxprocess” Mr Akerfeldt says “the only person in here that will know what I am saying is the guy from Gothenburg who has been yelling at us all night, but this next song is called…”

On the way home my pal asked me if he heard him right, which I told him he did, and then he bitched to me about how Akerfeldt introduced everyone in the band in Swedish, but then called himself “Michael”. Ah, I guess you had to be there, and if you weren’t you missed out on a great show to boot!

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All photos are used with permission of Mike Bax and lithiummagazine.com. Please check them out online!

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Adam has been a photographer for Hellbound since day 1 and also has a hand in the technical aspects of running the site.