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Artist: Opeth
Where: Grand Rapids, MI
Opener: High On Fire
Date: 9/25/08
Written By: Raising Iron

Ah yes, one of my all time, in the top ten, favorite bands--Opeth--came to my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI last Thursday night, 9/25/08, again at the Orbit Room (see my Motorhead concert review) and I was fortunate to be able to attend, seeing them now for the third time, and of course, they did not disappoint.

Scheduled to appear with Opeth were Chicago's Nachtmystium, a band I really wanted to see live as I haven't had the opportunity yet, which should come as no surprise to those of you who read my review of their latest effort, "Assassins". But it was not to be, for "unforeseen events" caused them to have to drop off the bill about 5 days before the show I was at. High On Fire was direct support, and opened up the show as a replacement had yet to be found for Nachtmystium. Frankly, I've never been very high on High On Fire's high-on approach to metal (ha, say that 3x fast!), but they put on a good show and I may have to try to mentally connect with this band once again. I mean, I've given every one of their releases a chance when they came out, but something about their style just doesn't jibe with me, not that they're a bad band, just personal preference I guess. Despite my shortcomings with this 3-piece, the 750 plus in attendance loved 'em, a young crowd, average age being around the mid-twenties, eating up their rough-shod sludge thrown from the floor to the rafters.

After their hour-long set, I left my compatriots at our table to move down front for Opeth. A perfect mix from the sound booth accompanied their set, thank God, as I was afraid the vox might be buried (again, see my Motorhead review, nary 2 weeks earlier at this same venue), but they weren't and the set opened up with "Heir Apparent", the first of 2 new songs to be showcased that evening. The band then lit right into "The Grand Conjuration" before a short respite and some of Mikael Akerfeldt's humorous, yet very dry stage banter. A now classic came next in "Serenity Painted Death", off Still Life, which had the crowd roiling around a bit down front. A little bit of moshing accompanied some songs here and there, but over-all it was a rather docile crowd comparatively speaking. Mikael changed out one of his umpteenth PRS guitars (how nice!) and teased the crowd with the opening notes and words of a Nickelback song, which really got a laugh.

Then came what I was hoping for, a song off Damnation, a beautiful and under-rated album. "Hope Leaves" was introduced by Akerfeldt telling the crowd about a friend (Jonas Renske-Katatonia) who suggested Opeth should release 2 albums at once, one heavy and one soft, and some dumbshit listened. Quoting Mikael "that dumbshit was me". Another laugh from the audience as the wonderful melodies of this song began to reach our ears "The Lotus Eater", another new one, destined to become a regular in their set, came next. Played flawlessly, Per Wiberg on keys whipping his long trusses around, and the new guitarist, Fredrik Akesson, riling the crowd with his superb skills, the listeners loved every minute of it. Blackwater Park got its first representation of the evening with "Bleak", before Mikael regaled the crowd with the humorous story of the album cover for Morningrise, off which "The Night and the Silent Water" was played. After that trip back to their second album, we were brought back to Deliverance and its killer title track, the 3 minute movement at the end of the song had the crowd delirious with excitement, Mikael himself commenting at the end of the song that he loves playing that one. He then starting talking about an older album, one which he was the only member on stage left to have played on, and that immediately got the crowd shouting "My Arms" and "Demon of the Fall", an obvious tease by Mr. Akerfeldt that was soon to be fulfilled. Martin Axenrot on the drums locked in with Martin Mendez on bass with all the energy of the start of the set, thrilling the crowd with a true classic.

A quick "thank you and good night" left the assembled masses chanting "Opeth" until the band came out for the encore song "The Drapery Falls", a worthy contender for a closing opus. A wave of the band members and the two hour, ten song set was already over. 11 o'clock and the attendees began filing out with about 25 to 30 of us lining up near the bus in hopes to get to meet the guys and get some autographs. After a solid hour, it had thinned out to about 7 or 8 of us, as one of the clubs security personnel kept telling those who were waiting the band wasn't going to be coming down for quite some time, enjoying their aftershow drinks and relaxations and what-not. But, we persevered, and about 12:30am or so the guys came out to their bus, stopped to greet us, shake our hands, and sign various paraphernalia. I finally got to meet Mr. Akerfeldt and they guys after seeing them twice before, which I considered a real treat, since I not only got some Opeth cds autographed but also my Bloodbath cds were signed by "Axe" and "Ake"!

A great show by a great bunch of guys with stellar musicianship, catch them coming to a town near you soon. They did allude to this being the first leg of the tour during their set, so if you can't see them this time round, there's always next year, and I'll be there with ya!

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