Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland - 18 November 2008
By Paddy Walsh
Photography by Simon Ward
Yon scribe shamefully descended upon Dublin's Vicar Street mid-way through US prog-death legends Cynic
, only to brazenly proceed straight to the bar in an act of sheer, thirst-ridden blasphemy. My defence was that this was an all ages show - no booze permitted on the floor - see my predicament? I've never watched a band completely sober, and i'm not about to start tonight. Luckily my informants in the audience reliably report that The Ocean
were decent if unremarkable, full of gusto but their Meshuggah
-cum-metalcore stylings a little short on memorability, whilst Cynic
threatened to upstage the headliners with a fantastic performance that drew upon their classic Focus
album and newie Traced in Air
. 'Veil of Maya' and 'Integral Brth' proved to be respective highlights.
have played Irish shores thrice since 2001, and the last two have been sold out. Tonight is no exception, as the venue is packed to capacity with both wizened metal scenesters and fresh-faced youth alike. Heck, I even spot a 50-something bloke with 2 eager youngsters - fully resplendent with Opeth
garb - in tow. The seemingly wide demographic appeal of Opeth
; young, old, male, female, underground, overground, is fully apparent tonight, and it's both a bewildering and heartening example of a band succeeding on their own terms. It's taken Opeth
9 albums to get here, and only a miserly shit would begrudge their ascent to the metal big league.
Launching into 'Heir Apparent', Opeth
send paroxysms of energy through the bustling throng. They're consummate pros these days, new guitarist Fredrik Akesson pulling all the requisite rock shapes whilst the freshly bearded Per Wilberg headbangs vigorously behind his keys. 'The Grand Conjuraton' has an anthemic quality that shines better live than on record, partcularly its climactic finale, whilst Still Life
's 'Godhead's Lament' is aired much to the old guard's delight. Frontman Mikael Akerfeldt retains his penchant for between song stand up, at one point allowing the front row maul his guitar before raising it to his lips and muttering "it's now blessed". Akerfeldt obviously gets a kick out of indulging in rock star cliche, but mid-song his persona is more akin to a demonic, growling metal machine, his roars perfectly interspersed by the measured cleanly sung parts. 'The Lotus Eater', gven its debut this tour, works incredibly well live, even if the funky keyboard workout is dulled by the low mix of the keyboards.
The likely highlight of the night, however, despite the finesse of 'Bleak' and the extended Damnaton
cut 'Hopes Leaves', comes with the double roundhouse of 'Deliverance' and 'Demon of the Fall'. The former's moshpit-friendly Meshuggah
-punch in its final minutes predictably sends the crowd apeshit, whilst the latter - a live favourite for years at this stage - is as crushing as ever. The set is neatly rounded off by what is arguably one of the band's finest moments, the lengthy and grandiose 'The Drapery Falls'. Opeth
seemed fully aware of their commandng position tonight, and this faultless performance cemented their status as live 'must-sees'. Wth Vicar Street providing an appropriate venue - even the support bands enjoyed good sound - the only thing missing was a sloppy, watered-down pint in each punter's hand. Yet perhaps our collective lucidity made Opeth
's onstage dominance all the more stark.