Opeth – 25th Anniversary Tour @ Ancienne Belgique, Brussels – 15 October 2015
For this year’s tour, Opeth combine their 25th anniversary of existence with the 10th anniversary of their classic album Ghost Reveries, in a concert featuring two different sets. Their live performance in Ancienne Belgique last Thursday confirms a near 3-hour set with the Swedish progressive metal legends.
Opeth – Part I
I could not say exactly what made the streets of Brussels so crowded around 6 pm that day. I can only say for sure that the traffic jam became the enemy no 1 to those heading to the Opeth’s concert. Stuck in traffic for hours, many arrived late and some couldn’t make it at all. It could have been because many people were still leaving work around that time. Or because a part of the city was closed to public access due to security concerns for a high-level political forum. No matter the circumstances, a concert scheduled at 7 pm on a working day cannot be a good idea. Even for the simple fact that jumping directly from an office space to a concert hall it’s a bit excruciating.
Opeth still started their show on time. With no initial greetings, they began abruptly with the opener Ghost of Perdition. Ghost Reveries was played from start to end in a lovely ambience, with complementary visuals depicting ethereal elements, candelabra on stage and a perfectly synchronized light-show.
But Opeth is well-known for its interaction with the audience and Mikael Akerfeldt was no disappointment in that respect. Before The Baying of the Hounds, he let everybody know the details on the concert’s length and structure and humorously expressed the hope that there would be enough energy for it. Before Beneath the Mire, he praised the Belgian records shops. Atonement and Reverie/Harlequin Forest made it obvious that the sound in Ancienne Belgique was spotless. The most important element of an ultimate experience build up on exquisite progressive riffs combined with death metal brutality, which was much appreciated by the audience whose approving reaction made the perfect context for the joke that came right after: ‘Is the sounding all right, then?’. One hour had passed already, three more songs before the break. Hours of Wealth made a perfect acoustics interlude for the dark and intense The Grand Conjuration.
Right before Isolation Years, depicted as ‘a very sensitive fragile song’, Mikael Akerfeldt launched himself in an attempt of excusing the unusual timing of the show and outlined what was going to happen next: they were going to play the last song of the first set, then leave for a break, then come back for the second set and then leave again and never come back for the evening as they are suppose to be in Germany as soon as possible. The entire speech was wrapped up in jokes, which made it indeed a bit less rude.
Opeth – part II
While the first set was precise, accurate, focused and with enormous attention to details, the second part brought along a different feeling. Not necessarily bad but just a bit (and most probably intentionally) confusing to the point where it had almost nothing to do with the first set. There were changes in the stage set up noticeable right from Eternal Rains Will Come. The candelabra disappeared from stage and the lights became fuzzier and less gothic. Two more songs from their latest album Pale Communion were included here, which gave a more melodic texture to the entire second part setlist. And probably this was not what the audience expected as after Cusp of Eternity people started shouting out for the greatest hits that had been promised.
The Leper Affinity was great, fast, loud and evil with its heavy riffs, changes of signature and the alternate singing from cleaning vocals to death growls. But Opeth chose to continue with scraps of songs here and there, starting with intros of famous tunes like ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ or ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ending them with light jokes. They announce and played To Rid the Disease from Damnation. Afterwards, it almost seemed they hadn’t got enough of that rambling through songs snippets. But I guess the audience had … and it was relieving when Akerfeldt announced ‘we go into the next song now’ which was I Feel the Dark. Before Voice of Treason, they engage in a musical dialog with the audience, playing bits of songs by request. The final piece Master’s Apprentices was a masterpiece, but at 9.45 pm here it comes the time for ‘Good night, Belgium.’ Ignoring the earlier warnings of not coming back, an encore was requested and received as The Lotus Eater, not before a presentation of the band members was made.
‘Every time we play in Belgium we have a great show. Tonight it was fantastic.’ concluded Akerfeldt. Overall, it seemed great to me, with an excellent journey into the Ghost Reveries and a dynamic and full of interaction second setlist.
AB special tickets for balcony seats
A relatively new practice for certain concerts in Ancienne Belgique gives access to the main balcony based on prior reservation only. This created some tension before and during the Opeth’s concert as the access was allowed, denied or redirected on the spot.
I have never considered the seated concert tickets a privilege. It’s a sign of getting old, being tired or simply not being tall enough to watch the concert from the crowd. And if I have to pay somehow for all these ‘sins’, I’d rather pay money and receive a proper service than feeling like a delinquent being checked by the police or like a 5-year-old who finds himself in a forbidden place. If this is a step that AB takes forward to a differentiate marketing in selling tickets, then there must be a better way to put it in practice. But I guess the best way would be to stop it to begin with, as it creates a lot of frustration and discontent.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives. It is also a cause of tinnitus and hearing loss. If you’re a constant concert-goer, stop fooling around and invest 150 euro in your health with a pair of professional, custom made earplugs. That’s right, the kind all cool musicians, reviewers and conscious music lovers own. There are numerous providers, search for one in your city right now. Hearing does not come back; once lost, music can stop forever.