Every time I see Opeth in Manchester they are in a bigger venue than the time before, a fact not lost on singer Mikael Åkerfeldt as he said exactly the same thing. Tonight they are in the Manchester Academy, an 1800 capacity hall that is looking pretty full by the time Opeth take to the stage. The temperature is somewhere in the eighties and for once I'm not stood behind the only seven foot person in the room. The crowd goes wild, there is no one to win over and Opeth launch straight into Ghost of Perdition, the 10 minute opener from their latest album Ghost Reveries.
If you've heard their albums but never seen them live let me tell you that Mikael's voice really can go from guttural devil growls to soft as andrex mellow in a heartbeat, he is a fantastic frontman and a genuinely funny guy with his in-between songs banter and had the crowd hanging off his every word.
I saw Opeth in Nottingham last time they toured and they were brilliant even though their sound wasn't the best, tonight in Manchester however their sound was great, with only the vocals being a little low in the mix which was something Paradise Lost suffered from too in the support slot. It wasn't so low as to be a problem, I guess it's hard to find a level when one second he's melting the microphone and the next it's quiet and mellow.
The rest of the band had their own space in the mix and for music this complicated they need it. It's easy to half listen and just get a big noise interspersed with quiet bits but give it your attention and Opeth will unfold a complex weaving of melody that defies your ears.
The set suffered on only one count and that is that they chose a full compliment of stop start songs with extended quiet ambient parts so some of the folks with me found it a little dull at times, this is just a matter of taste and they can go and see Judas Priest next time, Opeth are Death/Prog and on that count they delivered.
Maybe next time it'll be the Apollo Theatre and everyone can sit down and listen like the serious folk think the music deserves (that's me by the way)
To be honest I can't give you the set list but I can tell you what was missing, Deliverance and The baying of the hounds but I guess when your songs are in the 10 minute long area there are only so many you can do.
It was great and now they are signed to Roadrunner I hope they can become even bigger and play truly huge venues, they deserve it.