I saw Opeth live in concert last Friday at the Ace of Spades venue in Sacramento. I’m a big fan of Opeth. Songwriter, guitarist, and lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt‘s creates some crazy cool and unique music, and I love his guitar style. He’s known for layering his metal music with alternating heavy and soft sections, including his own vocals. Opeth stands out in the crowded metal scene as innovators. The last three albums have moved away from metal into Frank Zappa influenced prog rock. While I’m not as big a fan of this change as I was the metal records, I still think they’re good. Opeth is from Sweden, so they don’t come to California very often. I’ve only just started listening to them in the last year or two, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see them in person.
I was running late so I didn’t actually see the opener, but I got there just in time to get a t-shirt and jam my way to the front before Opeth started. They ran through a bunch of new and old songs. The whole set was just over 2 hours long. Mikael had a head cold, so he prefaced the concert saying that he was going to be singing/screaming poorly. I could kind of tell he was sick when he spoke, but his voice sounded great to me.
This Opeth tour is in support of their latest record, Sorceress. Of their three prog records, this one is easily my favorite. The other two I had to kind of dip my toe into before I really “got” them, but this record felt a bit more accessible. Still though, none of the prog records have much staying power for me, I usually listen to them a couple times and set them aside. This concert turned me around on those prog records in a big way. I don’t know what it is, maybe it was being in the moment at the concert and feeling the energy of the crowd. Whatever it was, I’m super into the new record now, especially the song The Wild Flowers.
The best part of the concert for me was definitely the request bit in the middle. Mikael asked for requests from the crowd. They played a snippets from a bunch of their classic songs, including a jazz inspired version of Bleak, one of my all time favorite Opeth songs. It was really cool hearing them play one of my favorite songs, but in an interesting new way. Overall I had a great time seeing Opeth. They’re one of my favorite bands right now and they put on a fantastic performance.
One thing of note, is the venue was amazing. I’d never been to the Ace of Spades in Sacramento before, but it was incredible. Usually the crowd at a metal show consists of a bunch of neck beards jammed in together and sweating on each other. This venue had the A/C cranked, we were packed in pretty tight but I could feel the cool air throughout the whole show. There were bars along every wall, and they had designated walk ways throughout the crowd. It was very easy to go to the bar, grab a drink, and come back to your spot in the crowd. I definitely recommend seeing shows at this venue if you’re in the area.