Gig Of The Week: Opeth
WHERE: London Royal Albert Hall
WHEN: Monday, April 5
Interview: Dave Ling
On Bank Holiday Monday, Opeth play their most prestigious UK date so far. As part of the Swedish group’s 20th anniversary celebrations, which includes one-off stops in Stockholm, Essen, Paris, New York and Los Angeles, they will perform their recently re-released signature album, 2001’s Blackwater Park, in its entirety, on the hallowed stage of the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Mikael Åkerfeldt – frontman, guitarist and leader of the enduring progressive heavies – is somewhat in awe of this fact.
“Death-= metal bands don’t play the Albert Hall, do they?” he muses. “Only now I suppose they do. I guess it all comes down to availability. If someone will pay the money (to hire the place) then anything is possible. I don’t think the owners of the Royal Albert Hall said: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Opeth?’. But, obviously, it’s a big fucking feather in this band’s cap. I keep on looking at record sleeves in my collection, and I will be having my picture taken like on the Deep Purple cover (Concerto For Group And Orchestra, 1970). Isn’t Pentangle’s Basket Of Light also from the Albert Hall ? (Correct – Ed.). I can’t believe I am going to be there. I’ve never even visited the place.”
In performing the whole of Blackwater Park as the show’s first half, Åkerfeldt hopes to tempt the album’s producer, Steven Wilson, to join Opeth onstage.
“I’ve asked Steven but I think he might chicken out,” he confides. “He’s going to be there, and I can probably persuade him to come up and sing the part that he did in the song Bleak, but I wouldn’t like to promise anything. I’ve asked one or two people when I was drunk, but I don’t want people to depend too much on guest appearances. I don’t want the gig to be too planned out.”
With regard to the rest of the show, which Roadrunner Records’ press release predicts will contain ‘mixed material from the band’s extensive catalogue’, Mikael is reluctant to spill the beans.
“We’ve played most of the songs (in the set’s second half) live before, but some of them not for a very long time,” he hedges. “Nobody but a few diehards knows a song like Black Rose Immortal [from 1996’s Morningrise] and it’s 20 minutes long. Unless you’re into that second album (pauses, then giggles)… we recently listened to it whilst deciding whether or not to play it, and it’s not very good.”
In signing off, Åkerfeldt himself brings up the subject of the venue’s acoustics, which were designed to accommodate classical music and not death growls. When Classic Rock points out that Queensrÿche struggled to make an impression there on the Promised Land tour during the mid-90s, he simply shrugs: “We’re probably going to struggle, too. But you know what? I don’t fucking care. We’re going to be there and everybody knows it’s a big night. There will definitely be some nerves. I just want to be in a good mood, and for everyone else to be the same.”
Find out more at www.opeth.com