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Opeth, Katatonia - Tucson, USA - 23rd May 2013

Event: Opeth: North American Heritage Tour 2013
Written by: BitterCOld
Published: 28.05.2013

Opeth recently returned to the Old Pueblo, with guests Katatonia, continuing to soldier on with their North American Heritage Tour. Apparently, per Mikael, this was the 199th gig on their current tour. Wow.

When I arrived at the Rialto Theater the line was wrapped around the corner and extending well down the street. In 90 degree heat. (That'd be 33 for those of you who like their temps in C.)
F that noise. To paraphrase Scrooge McDuck, "gig smarter, not harder."

The Rialto is inconveniently located downtown, but conveniently located near many a bar. I think there are about as many bars as parking spaces… Instead of sweltering in the heat, I popped into The District for a nice, cold barley soda. They had Slayer's "Live Undead" on the juke box… seeing as it was the public memorial for Jeff Hanneman, I blared "Black Magic" in tribute.

Closer to gig time and after the Sun had descended a little, wandered back to the venue to a line of a mere 10 people. Still 30 minutes before show time.

Gig smarter.

For whatever reason, I've never bothered to really check out Katatonia, so I was excited to have the opportunity to do so firsthand.

The band took the stage - with cool raven background décor - and launched into their set. They acquitted themselves rather well, putting on an enjoyable if largely stationary show. The songs sounded pretty much what I'd expect - a nice give and take between well done clean and crushing distortion, which fired up the crowd. I will say I found vocalist Jonas amusing. His voice, whether clean or RAWR-mode sounded great, but I still don't have the slightest idea what the guy looks like… he allowed his long hair to drape over and conceal his face like a gothic Viking Cousin It.

As with Enslaved a couple years ago, it must be fun to tour with Opeth, but as an established band, must suck a little bit to have to compress your set to a scant 50 minutes or so. The biggest difference was with Enslaved it went too quickly, with Katatonia, perhaps it was my unfamiliarity or just the relative similarity of songs (I realize that those statements are slightly contradictory) it did seem to drag a tad waiting for the headliners.

Still, their performance was enough to encourage me to further delve into their catalog. And judging by the number of Katatonia shirts in the crowd, I wasn't likely the only one won over.

Next came the headliners. I was mentally prepped for a mellow evening, figuring based upon reports of prior gigs on this tour that it'd be Heritage in its entirety. And it started off that way with the title track before all distortion pedal broke loose on the follow up. Their set was a nice mish-mash scattering the old albums I own against their recent efforts… Heritage, Damnation, Still Life, Ghost Reveries, My Arms Your Hearse all were represented.

While with some acts I tend to get a bit more involved in the visceral pushing, shoving and jostling of ground zero, with Opeth I was content to remain seated in a corner of the venue and let it all wash over me with sound so loud it was like a physical wave. I think their music ultimately encourages perhaps a more tame audience. While there are aggressive moments they are all too often interspersed with stare transfixed and agog stretches. This is no disrespect to the band, but rather an acknowledgement of how enthralling extended passages of their music are.

Besides being a world class metal act, when one attends an Opeth show, one is also gaining admission to the comedic stylings of Mikael Akerfeldt. He is dry subtle brilliant.

Right off the bat he laid down the law of attending an Opeth gig. "Two rules. No texting. No yawning. Especially if you are headbanging. Then again, I realize we are fucking boring."

After one of their more aggressive songs, Mikael noted, "I see people in the pit making the Manowar sign."

(Crosses arms like an X)

"Do we have any Manowar fans here? No? Just one? We played a festival with them once. We couldn't go to the toilet as it was in their section. We had to sneak in. You don't want to be caught taking a shit on Joey Dimaio's toilet…"

He responded to audience requests/shouting at him in between songs "I can't hear what you are saying, but I bet it was fucking funny" and introduced an acoustic rendition of Demon Of The Fall (that ended up sounding like Sepultura-esque acoustic death metal) by showing off their acoustic guitars.

"My guitar has 12 strings. A Swedish brand with a Made In China sticker on the back." (beat) "His guitar" (motioning to Fredrik) "only has six strings. Mine has 12. His only has six…" delivered in a way to make it sound like they were comparing the size of other pieces of their, uh, equipment. All of which he judo flipped a second later. "But his is much more expensive than my piece of shit."

The whole thing makes for a great experience. It's an amazing transition from roaring thunder to quiet rain. Clear, clean, beautiful solos to BOOM! All strung together with his dry wit.

I'm a fan of Opeth, but not a iFAN! of the band, if you catch my drift. I'll occasionally toss one of their older disks on from time to time, but I'm not going to elbow a muthatrucka in the throat to be the first to score their next release at a midnight sale. That said, I'll be sure to catch them every time they come to this neck of the Sonoran Desert.

Not sure how many more gigs they have after 200 in LA… but if they are coming to a town near you, do what thou must to get your tix.


Written on 28.05.2013 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 170 users
28.05.2013 - 05:50
Stinky Lips
I too only pop in an occasional Opeth oldie into the player now and again. But boy is it sweet when I do. Sounds like an all around good time had. And "Demon of the Fall" is such a heavy song, hearing an acoustic version of it is very intriguing to me. Thanks for the insight into the show!
28.05.2013 - 15:07
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
Sounds very similar to their show in Sydney a few months ago.
The sun shines over The Fool...
28.05.2013 - 17:21
Darkside Momo
Nice to see that Mikael still has his great sense of humor (best I've heard from him so far, at Hellfest: "did you like our support band, Ozzy Osbourne?" )

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'm awake now"
Abney Park (Letter Between A Little Boy & Himself As An Adult)
29.05.2013 - 13:23
Nihil's Maw
I was here, and it was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately I was also unfamiliar with much of Katatonia's discography, but this concert encouraged me to check out more of their stuff. As always, Mikael was hilarious, and they had a pretty decent setlist. Totally glad I got to be there.
01.06.2013 - 17:11
At the show in the Guelph when Katatonia was on I kind of just wanted them to end, the first couple songs were interesting but I don't know if their music really translates into a live environment too well. Opeth did the acoustic demon of the fall thing too, which was cool I guess although I hadn't heard the song before that.

I agree with the thing about a tame audience. Although they can sound significantly heavier live than on studio CDs.

Also at the show I went to Mikael had the flu and promised to throw his snot rag into the audience at the end of the show, and he didn't, big disappointment.

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