Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Overwhelming night with Opeth

I have always obsessed with finer details when I have to go for the concert and made elaborate plans for entire thing. The idea of missing a concert due to any number of circumstances gives me a cold feet. While I came to know that Opeth are playing at O2 academy on this very Friday, It occurred to me that I may be able to attend this. On wandering a little online, it was clear that I would be able to get tickets on the gate or I can still book on-line. There is something about a rock concert which makes you plan it and there is some kind of preparation which gets you into the right mood for metal concert. I was little indecisive on this one since I have to return back to my city late at about Sunday midnight and as always there are safety concern regarding roaming at night in London. And to be frank I had zero preparation to attend a gig by The Opeth. Anyway, my confused mind decided "what the heck", lets do it.

So I quickly made it to the venue, which was not hard to spot and purchased a ticket quickly by cash. Reaching to O2 academy was not really much of an effort and nothing interesting happened until I purchased the ticket. There were few people queuing at the gate, others were just hanging around the venue casually. So, I thought lets go somewhere to eat or take a stroll. I was very happy until this moment, and that is when everything went wrong. I was thinking of keeping my ticket from back pocket of jeans to somewhere in front jacket, but I couldn't locate the ticket, my heart almost stopped beating at this point. I was going like "no way dude, you cannot loose it", its one of the times when you remember god, no matter how rational you are, times like these make you loose your shit. I was extremely angry on myself and then I started looking for ticket around. Couple of guys were selling tickets around those area, now I do not want to allege anyone of anything, but it seems to me that its possible that one of these guys nicked it from my back pocket, as it was quite easily visible. I tried searching and I talked to the people at ticket counter, but there was nothing which could be done at this moment. This is where my engineering senses started kicking in and telling me to get a good bargain and save the money, you have already paid 20£ why again? So while I stood up in the line, I was looking for those guys who sell ticket and luckily(don't want to use this word at this moment) I found a bargain for 15£, which is not bad, but I lost my tickets so I was still  a fucking loss.

Anyway, I decided to join the line, but bloody hell, line was so long, it was about a mile or so. Finally when I was standing in the line, the cops were frisking an african male for something and everyone was looking at it. Now line kept moving, until I reached about 100 meters from the venue, it started getting chilly and I put my hoodie on. For some reason, I was asked to stepped out of the line by the cops for frisking, which made me panicky all of sudden. Clearly, it was racial profiling and the cop said that they were looking for guy in grey jacket, which is funny since no one wears a grey jacket to a rock concert besides me, of course. And he tried to act funny and crap, but it was my fault to put on hoodie in London and wear a grey jacket. I tried explaining him that I am not from here and its hard for me to bear this kind of cold. This event almost ruined the night for me as it kept haunting me entire time. I was repeatedly replaying the entire event in my mind to figure out what all did I do wrong here? and it was hard for me to keep a cool head about it.
Anyway, I made inside the gig venue, there were two levels in O2 academy, I was in standing circle and there was some kind of seating arrangement at upper level. To be frank, who the fuck sits on a chair in a metal concert? I mean if people were buying tickets for such arrangement at metal gig, they should rather sit home and watch corrs or something. Anyway, venue was great, inspite of being enclosed, I didn't have any concerns for sound to be frank, I know they would have done their homework properly unlike India. The stage was well lit and there were these banners and drum kits, which were covered by some kind of cloth. I was not sure why the stage has such strange arrangement since it looked like some kind of obstacle course.
So by 8 pm, the stage went dark and this was the time when you know the band will appear on stage.  So I heard that familiar sound, ah the sounds from a live snare and distortion of metal guitar, great feeling of metal nostalgia. I have been hungry for live metal music for more than a year now. It punches a big hole through my heart that I have missed Cradle of filth, Lamb of God, BIG Four, motorhead and Gojira, all of them were at pretty much reachable, but life played a cruel trick with me. I wont say that this band( which appeared on stage next) was particularly a bad band, but it was not the kind of band, I would have spent my energy on, call me what you want, but I was here to see Opeth. I have enough gig experience to know when not to do rituals and save energy, but today this dry patch of metal in my life was taking its toll and my body was automatically responding to every beat and every riff. The band that performed next was called Pain of Salvation from Sweden.  Initially my mind wanted to believe that this be Opeth because I don't want to wait. But they played a pretty tight set of songs. The lead singer was also playing mix of lead and rhythm with some acoustic guitar thrown in. The drummer was pretty tight. Vocalist said couple of time "they did not fuck up on stage, so they wont do it this time as well". It was pretty interesting to watch them as I read about them, there are around for a long time now but they are not so popular.  However they put up some ass kicking guitar solos and then a good drumming solo for very small period of time. I guess this crowd was bit of a mixed crowd so they would have made few fans here.
After they leave, the sound engineers and other people started uncovering opeth posters and the wall now have a big art form their latest album heritage, you can read about the artwork and album here. And these guys were testing drum kits and putting in plectrums in mic stands and some guys were testing the guitar processing unit. It took them about 10-15 minutes to finish it off. And the stage went dark again, and I was having this chilly feeling which you get due to too much excitement.  This time the crowd seem to be getting a little denser, the italian chick standing ahead of me seemed to be little lost in all this. So Opeth made an entry in dark with their opening number form new album called as "The Ghost orchard" frankly speaking I didn't recognize that song since I have not heard their new album at all. But the sound of a progressive metal band is so distinct that you immediately attach yourself with it. And crowd was getting into the metal zone: headbanging, smell of weed, air guitar, devils horns, screaming and howling was complementing the great music which was playing. Mikael Akerfeldt, the lead vocalist was wearing a red Tshirt, after first song, he introduced the band and shared usual pleasantries with the crowd. Next song they played was "I feel the dark". This song is one of the most amazing song I have heard, Micheal Akerfelt's vocals are amazing on this song. The song is very typical example of varying time signatures used by opeth. The song ends with an amazing echoing voice.
So now Mikael starts talking about "how he want to see some singing with next song and want to see some breasts", lol. And then he says that can't help it he is a dirty old man and don't worry you all will get there, gosh I love this man's sense of humour.  He said next song is from album "still life", which made me little happy since I knew the next song will be "Face of Melinda" and I know this song a little better than previous ones. I must admit, they rendered live pretty tightly, given the nature of music achieving such level of accuracy is work of art. New guitarist Fredrik akerson is pretty amazing, his guitar solos on all three songs were spot on. My hands went up in air and showed my respect with devil horns and my head banged throughout entire song
The next song blew away my mind completely, this time they played "porcelain heart". The guitaring was fucking insane and then the song finished with a epic drum solo followed by another crazy face melting guitar and drum combinations with double bass and blast beats thrown on and off. The crowd was roaring and whistling and clapping simultaneously, it was a life time experience. Its not often the metal heads clap, but bloody hell this crowed rocked no matter what it did.
Then Mikeal talked about the whereabouts of each and every member of band, guess most of the band is from Stockholm, except for one guy who is from some village in Sweden.The next song they played was napthene from their new album Heritage, the song starts with very gentle riff and then drums starts progressing slowly and Mikeal started singing. And then there is complete transition with keyboards thrown in,and song picks up speed and then slows down again. The colours on stage started changing with the riffs and drums, its was site worth witnessing, beats and transition was hitting every cell in your brain, enhancing the senses.
As soon as the song finished, the set up of stage started changing and I knew that this is time for some acoustics mixed with metal sound. This is something which you will see rarely in metal concerts. Now Mikeal starts talking again, this time he says that this song has no standard structure and this may take may fuck it up a little and he then says "would you guys be okay if we fuck it up a little", crowd screamed in agreement. To which he responded "good, because we don't give a fuck anyway", and there was giggles and laughs all round. He said this song is part of sound track of God of war to which crowd responded with uproar. The song "throat of winter" was really a bit unusual but it was pretty good song and his guitaring skills are pretty amazing even on acoustic guitars. He then started strumming "faith by George micheal", and crowd responded to it by singing with it, that is when he literally did *FACEPALM* and says you guys suck, lol. He then started to introduce Akerson again by telling that his guitar has 12 motherfucking strings, I gasped in awe by the idea of 12 string on an acoustic guitar. I raised my hand to show my respect by showing devil horns. The next song they performed was  credence, oh the sweet familiar riffs and a great opening.  My entire body was enthralled by the great ambience that this song has created around me.
And then before you could recover from this song, the next song came flying right at you and hit you with such a force. Oh my god, this is probably the song I was waiting to hear live. Every fucking note resonates in my mind, the closure is probably one of the greatest song sung by opeth and its hard to describe the epicosity of this great song. My headbanged for entire song and the visceral vocals of Mikeal were intoxicating "In the rays of sun, I am longing for the darkness" leading to epic drum and guitar solo, man I felt totally out of this world, the moment was something which you can never forget.
As the song stopped Mikeal started talking about his friend from katakonia and stalker dude who took his picture and thought it was him. he says he wont mind lady stalker, but not dudes (ha ha). Next song they played was slither, which was good song, but I was still under the influence of previous song. This song was fast liked speed metal with some great riffs. Then he talked about the year he was born, it was the time when sabbath released their 5th album and asked the crowd if anyone born in that year, I guess only 2-3 people were of same age as him. He than talked about Ronnie James Dio(\m/ respect) and asked "how many people like him", and there was uproar in crowd devil horns in air. He then said that he is biggest fan since he as coffee with him, which he later said is not the reason to be his biggest fan, but he then dedicated this song to Dio which was A fair judgement. Indeed a great song for a great man, respect to Mikeal and Dio.
After finishing this song he started strumming again and this time he sang with it "shit cock anus", it was absolutely funny. And some bloke made some random comment on that to which Mikeal was like, "shut up man" and thus creating more laughs.  He then played some riffs from other band and talked about Whitesnake, the crowd responded to this song with more screaming. The song I think was "Slow and easy", they played some intro before they break into full blown metal mayhem that is called a Hex  Omega. The song has characteristic heavy drumming with a lot of metal guitaring, the lights on stage were again flipping with different colors. Mikeal Akerfelt has amazing voice and he does high pitch singing so well, its mesmerizing. But, he didn't do any songs with growls, which is my only complaint against this concert. The Guitar solo on this song were pretty sick, I was totally awe stuck .
Now they started thanking the crowd and bowed down and went back.
This is an epic crowd, so it did what it does best, started shouting and chanting opeth opeth opeth, the time for an encore. It was funny when crowd started shouting 10 more songs after encore and Micheal blew them apart by shouting back "10 more pounds", it was absolutely hilarious. He then started talking about this entire encore thing and "how its a little game we all play". Man, this dude is amazing on so many levels, I am in total awe of him. The next song they played was Folklore, the starting of this song is very much like a folk song, as told by Mikeal that its a swedish tune. With heavy heart I have to walk out of this song, I cannot believe that I was walking away from 7 more minutes of face melting music. Something I have never done before and I felt like a sinner to walk away in middle from the lords of progressive metal. With each heavy step, I walked towards the gate and then music completely disappeared. I pulled my self back to run towards the underground to catch the next train back to my accommodation. I felt so empty that entire time until I sleep, Every moment of concert was replaying in my head and I wanted it not to stop. This concert has triggered my hunger for more metal, but I have to wait until next year for some real music, until then the emptiness of live metal will be surround me.