It had been a while since the mighty Opeth have played a headline gig in New York, but on November the 3rd they made a stop on their new trek across the US at Webster Hall with the red hot Nevermore and Into Eternity in tow. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo and Ken Pierce was on hand for this momentous show and bring this full report with photos.
Pete Pardo: Webster Hall seemed a rather odd place to house this exciting event, seeing as most metal bills wind up at BB Kings, Irving Plaza, or The Roseland Ballroom. Once we walked into Webster Hall though, the immense size (it has 3 floors) and dark décor seemed like a perfect place for a night of progressive metal. Canada's Into Eternity kicked off the evening, and this had been about the fourth time I have seen them this year, as they have been on numerous high profile metal tours this year, which has no doubt been great exposure for them. Their set was fairly similar to every other set they did this year, tight and energetic, and their mix of technical progressive rock and death metal seems to be winning the audiences over who are beginning to get used to their sound. Talking to the band after their set they confirmed that they are finally going back to Canada to hit the studio to record their follow-up to Buried in Oblivion. 2006 should be a good year for them if they can get that album out while everyone has them in their memory after so many shows this year.
Despite lead singer Warrel Dane suffering from what was rumored to be a bad cold or a bout with the flu, Nevermore rampaged through a killer set that was heavy with tunes from their awesome new CD This Godless Endeavor. Songs like the title track, "Born", and "My Acid Words" sounded great live, and the crowd ate them up alongside classics like "Enemies of Reality" and the monster cut "River Dragon". Guitarists Jeff Loomis and Steve Smyth literally slayed the audience with chops of doom, and of course Van Williams was like a ten-legged octopus behind the kit. Give Dane plenty of credit, if he was sick, you could barely tell, as he sounded great. While the bands mix was a tad muddy on the first song or two, by the middle of their set the sound was fixed and the guys sounded like the juggernaut they are. The audience was totally into it and no doubt are waiting for the band to hit the road for a headline tour of their own.
Although headliners Opeth played a near 2 hour set, only 9 songs were played, which just goes to show you how epic the bands compositions really are. As the band made their way to the stage to the death metal meets Deep Purple sounds of "Baying of the Hounds" off their brand new opus Ghost Reveries, it was immediately apparent just how good this progressive metal band is. For the most part the band touched on most of their albums with the exception of the first two, and played classics like "When", "Bleak", "Blackwater Park" and the crushing epic "Deliverance". New member Per Wiberg fit right in on keyboards, adding an even more progressive element to the bands already intricate style with his layers of Mellotron, Moog, and Hammond sounds. The twin guitar teak of leader Michael Akerfeldt and Peter Lindgren were savage and technical most of the time, interspersed with moments of lush acoustic brilliance. Akerfeldt's vocals are some of the best in the business-he can roar with a pure evil tone that would make most death metal singers shrink away, and yet he also has one of the loveliest clean voices as well, which perfectly fit the mellower prog rock passages of their music. Opeth could have played all night and the crowd would have eaten it all up, but the venue had a late night dance party coming up after the show, so things were ended quickly after the bands encore of "Demon of the Fall". They did however hint that they were coming back in early 2006, so hopefully the NYC area can once again be subjected to the magic of Opeth, with perhaps a different and longer set list. A great night of music all around.
It wasn't long after the release of "Ghost Reveries" that Opeth announced that they would be making a return trip to the USA and this would be a welcome visit in the eyes of the legions of Metal. Some fans had gotten to see the group perform on the "Sounds Of The Underground 2005" tour which brought you almost 20 Metal acts in one afternoon. The sad part of this was the fact that Opeth would play under 30 minutes and for those that know their material this is only about 3 songs. It's quite ridiculous to think that one can even begin to capture the magic that this band puts together in that long a set. With "Ghost Reveries", an album that many are calling one of the best in their catalog, the group takes elements of "Blackwater Park" and touches "Damnation" enough to combine into this unique expression. It's an album that needs to be heard a few times to fully catch what it happening and this evening we would get a chance to absorb this and a whole lot more. The scene would be the very mysterious and brooding venue called Webster Hall. This is a deep and dark cavernous club that made the perfect setting for the type of music that Opeth would be bringing to life tonight. Capable of holding a capacity of about 1300 people this event sold out in only a few days. A note that is always worth mentioning when one hears that Metal is a dead issue, I like having something like this fact to remind them of how wrong they are.
Into Eternity: Canada's Into Eternity have been a non-stop supporting act juggernaut over the past year and each show gets better and better for the band. Proving that they deserve every opening slot; they performed admirably once again but only for about 35 minutes. This had to be the biggest crowd I had seen assembled for their set and I liked witnessing it. Many people come just as the main band is set to play but I think the quality that Into Eternity continually delivers in a performance bore some fruit in these past shows and made a lot more people get there earlier tonight. Once again the group delivered a fair sampling of the amazing album "Buried By Oblivion" and if you are still not the owner of a copy of this CD do yourself a favor and grab one. There are no dull moments on it and in the live sense it is even better. After the set, the band mingled with friends and fans alike near the merchandise booth. Posing for pictures and joking while enjoying a couple of beers. I have been lucky enough to meet these guys in the past and I always look forward to seeing them again as they are a lot of fun. Congrats to Adam, Stu, Tim, Troy and Rob on a very productive year.
Warrel Dane of Nevermore
Nevermore: I was very anxious to see a longer set from Nevermore as when this band was on Gigantour over the Summer they played a mere thirty minutes while other bands played longer. Tonight the band was going to face a two fold disappointment because while the group was musically on target; Lead Singer Warrel Dane was suffering a severe case of pharyngitis. This greatly affected the way he would normally deliver the songs and given the reaction their latest album "This Godless Endeavor" has been receiving I was a little disappointed. I gave him credit for not cancelling the set and instead doing his best through this once again short set. While the band hammered out a good six songs you could tell this was having an adverse affect on Dane as every minute went by. Members Steve Smyth and Jeff Loomis are killer guitar players and it shows more and more when they perform and after this appearance I am hoping to hear news of a getting to see them once again but in a headlining capacity. After 10 years this band has delivered what appears to be their most accepted work and they are brutal on stage making sure the rhythms go right through you. With the exception on the illness aside it was still nice to see them play. Their set list below touched more on the new CD than the last time I caught them and Dane joked during "Enemies Of Reality" that he was enemies with the illness this evening.
Opeth: As a person who attended the SotU 2005 tour I was very excited to be able to catch Opeth in a full performance with this show. The music that they play is far too deep and enrapturing to merely experience thirty minutes of as was showcased during that festival. I had missed them when they last ventured here with Moonspell and I believe that was an opening slot anyway. Tonight the venue would be packed and as referenced above this event had sold out. As you wandered around the brooding venue the more it seemed clear that Opeth music would be perfect for the surrounding visuals. Armed with only stage equipment, an on screen logo and dramatic lighting the mood was set for Opeth's arrival. Ardent fans in the front had been in the venue for hours and now they would get their fill of this unique blend of Progressive styling's and Death Metal riffs. It is really difficult to define what this band is doing or to simply classify it as Heavy Metal on its own. "Ghost Reveries" is a solid piece of music that takes the listeners to some familiar areas introduced by the group and also offers them some new ideas for the future of where they are heading. Martin Lopez would not be on drums this evening and instead the material was performed adeptly by Bloodbath's Martin Axenrot whom Akerfeldt had worked with in the past during his time with that project. It was impressive to see how good he worked in the music as Opeth songs are not that simple in their composition. The other stand out would be in Per Winberg who's presence in the group has taken them to a new level of creativity. His solid moog feels and mellotron usage would enrich the work of Akerfeldt and company very much.
Just prior to the show I had a particularly amusing encounter as we caught Winberg in the audience area. He was milling about enjoying the layout of the venue and we discussed briefly the overall response to the new record. He smiled and said it was going over better than the last ones did when they first came out which was a good thing. I remarked how I would need the set list for the purpose of the readers and his reply was that it would not be too difficult for while they would play for two hours only nine songs would be covered. He was a very personable guy and fits right into the mix that Akerfeldt has in his band. While Michael is a fierce growler during a lot of the heavier moments in his music he also has softness for the slower paced areas and this conveys in the way he speaks with the crowd. He is a good front man and while not prone to stage antics and jibber jabber he talks to them with a level of intelligence one does not always find directed at a Metal audience. This is a good thing and one particular amusing segment was when he split the audience Male versus Female to see who could growl the best. You have not lived until you heard almost 700 females give a Death Metal growl.
I have to say that overall this was an excellent concert with a solid line up for the openers as well. Everyone doing the best that they had in them and each band left the audience starved for more. This tour would not be a long one for Opeth as they returned home quickly after this but as Winberg disclosed the group is planning a return and this might find them playing even longer. Opeth needs to tour like Rush does and make it "an evening with" and keep the opener to one or no groups. It is my opinion that they could support a tour on their own for the fan base is that supportive of their music.
Nevermore Set List
Precognition - intro
The Acid Words
The River Dragon
Final Product – encore
Enemies Of Reality – encore
Opeth Set List
Baying of the Hounds
In My Time of Need
The Grand Conjuration
Demon of the Fall