Opeth do the double at Drury Lane
“Hello, we are called Opeth and we come from Sweden. That’s about two and a half hours away on a plane. We’re here to entertain you with music and to help us we have candelabras and fake IKEA lighting.”
A humble and humorous introduction, rather than a grand one, chosen by frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt to introduce the band after they’ve blown everyone away with a perfect rendition of “Ghost of Perdition”, taking great advantage of the beautiful acoustics of the stunning Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
The abrupt venue change is explained by Åkerfeldt: “The Palladium wasn’t posh enough”. Anyone who’s seen Opeth before will be able to attest to the dry wit that fills the voids between songs and tonight it’s on point. The audience isn’t here for a stand up set however, but to see Opeth play one of their finest albums, Ghost Reveries, in full, as well as a second set spanning their 25-year career.
On the first count the band deliver and then some; Ghost Reveries is performed to perfection – some with slight tweaks, like an extended jam at the end of “Atonement” – but all with a crisp, clear sound and top notch performances. I could spend days piling verbose word vomit into heaps of Opeth-fellating sentences, but at the end of the day it was just as amazing as it should be.
After a short intermission the band take the stage again, diving right into a couple of choice cuts from last year’s Pale Communion - “Cusp of Eternity“ is a particularly tasty rendition – before exploring their back catalog. A personal favourite of the second set comes immediately after these two songs in the form of “The Leper Affinity“ which was unfortunately was the only Blackwater Park track on offer this evening.
From there, Opeth visit Damnation, Deliverance and Heritage, returning to the stage finally with the powerful encore of “Lotus Eater“ from Watershed. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Åkerfeldt calls for requests which garners an incoherent wall of noise from the audience, as well as a few wildly original comic talents who shout either “SLAYER!“ or “FREEBIRD!”. The band jam parts of these songs before abruptly stopping, with Åkerfeldt claiming he “forgot that one.”
As funny as the whole ordeal is, you can’t help but feel they could have skipped some of the shenanigans and added an extra song into the set (preferably “Drapery Falls”), but it’s a small complaint on an otherwise brilliant night where the only other slight peeve would be that, probably due to Åkerfeldt answering a lot of them, there were audience members who positively pestered the band with shouts and screams to the point of annoyance.
That’s honestly nitpicking though, as it’s pretty much impossible to imagine anyone leaving Drury Lane disappointed tonight. Except, perhaps, if they were lured in by the big Willy Wonka signs outside, only to find that not only was there no chocolate factory and the only Willies around were those between the legs of roughly 70% of the audience members. Dick jokes aside, this show is highly recommended for anyone with a time machine…or perhaps a DVD player, if it turns out the show was filmed.