Opeth @ Ogden Theatre. 10.25.11

Those hoping for a death metal show when Opeth came through Denver last week were sorely disappointed, but those who were familiar with the new album and aware of the progressive setlist were treated to a perfectly balanced rock show by some of the most talented musicians to come from Sweden.

As the snow piled up outside, Mikael Åkerfeldt and his band provided us with a two-hour reprieve from the storm.  Åkerfeldt might be rebelling against the genre that put Opeth on the international map, but that doesn’t mean he has lost his quick wit or sense of humour.  After opening with The Devil’s Orchard (with its sing-along ‘God is dead‘), Åkerfeldt thanked everyone for making it out during the first big storm of the season.  ‘You ski and shit?  We are from Sweden and we have six months of Winter, but then we go to the beach and there is sun and there are breasts!

The set was heavy on Heritage material, but one of the night’s highlights, Face of Melinda, came early in the set.  Beautiful is not a adjective usually found in a metal review, but once again, this was not a metal show.  But that is not a criticism.  Opeth are one of the few bands that can progress beyond that genre without coming across as pretentious, or being labeled sell-outs.  The acoustic run of The Throat of Winter, Credence and Closure would have come across as trite is lesser hands, but these Swedes pulled off the impossible — looking around the room and seeing metalheads swaying back and forth with eyes closed was a sight to see.  At one point some dude yelled ‘you make our lives better!‘, and I couldn’t help but agree.

If I am being honest, I did not like Heritage the first time I heard it, and I was pretty disappointed when I saw the setlist of all ‘mellow’ material, but it worked.  It didn’t just work, it worked well.  Very well.  The night had a flow like no other show I have been to in recent history.  These 12 songs would make the perfect album.  Requests were made throughout the show, but the setlist was set in stone.  ‘I don’t take requests because I don’t remember shit.  I don’t even know Free Bird…

The night ended with an introduction of the band, ‘My name is Mikael, you can call me His Majesty, the King of Sweden‘, and Folklore.  And while I hope Opeth come back around and throw some Blackwater Park and other ‘death’ stuff in the mix, I do feel that those of us who had to scrape the snow off our cars before driving home that night witnessed something truly unique.  One of the best shows of the year.

We were supposed to interview the band, but they got in late and had to cancel our slot.  We sent the interview questions to be answered via e-mail, but all press around this tour was canceled the next day.  This was sad news for sure, especially since we had to arrive at the venue 5 hours early, but it did give us a chance to consume a lot of good beer at the Cheeky Monk!  Hopefully next time we will have an interview and a more timely review of the show.

The Devil’s Orchard
I Feel The Dark
Face of Melinda
Porcelain Heart w/ drum solo
The Throat of Winter (acoustic)
Credence (acoustic)
Closure (acoustic)
A Fair Judgement
Hex Omega