Leap Year occurs every four years. The last time Opeth visited Dallas was in October 2016, a Leap Year. Opeth’s return to DFW since that date not only has occurred in a Leap Year but also on that one day, February 29, also known as Leap Day.
The Swedish band is touring in support of In Cauda Venenum, which perhaps is their strongest album in recent years. Supporting the Swedes on their North American tour are fellow countrymen Graveyard. The tour brought Opeth to The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving, TX.
The venue, which can be utilized as an amphitheater, was arranged for an indoor performance. Only General Admission at the stage, reserved seating on the floor and the first elevated reserved section behind the floor were available. This gave Opeth a larger attendance capacity when compared to their 2016 visit at a smaller venue. The arrangement also kept the stage in suitable proximity for those in the rear, reserved and raised seating.
Graveyard’s sound was much heavier and as odd it may sound appeared to be louder that Opeth. That’s what can be expected with the sight of an Orange cabinet on the stage that would be plugged into a Rickenbacher bass. And that’s what happened.
The Gothenburg five-piece who were supporting their 2018 release titled Peace created a thunderous and heavy rock sound. Those upfront were pelted with sonic waves of sound during the generous allotted amount of time provided.
Fronted by guitarist and vocalist Joakim Nilsson, the band plowed through their nine-song set. The opener “Walk On,” “Please Don’t” and “Cold Love” were pulled from Peace making for a third of the band’s set.
Anticipation built as fans patiently awaited Opeth’s presence in the physical form.
As the Toyota Music Factory went dark, “Livets Tradgard” (Garden of Earthly Delights), the instrumental introduction to In Cauda Venenum begin to drift over the crowd. Simple graphics from the LED screen gave hints of light to the darkness.
Emerging from the shadows, the wide brim hat silhouette of guitarist / vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt calmly approached center stage. The other members took to their stage positioning for the night as well.
Looking to this right, Opeth smoothly initiated “ Svekets Prins” (Dignity) with a punch but not painful wave of sound.
The concert flow and tone was immediately set for the night as the band effortlessly made their way through the opener. With a smooth transition, Opeth slid into “The Leper Affinity” from Blackwater Park.
The band would utilize the vast array of material from their catalogue during their time. Selections from Damnation, Deliverance, Ghost of Reveries, Heritage, Pale Communion and Sorceress would see the light of day during the set. Fans were treated from the heavier side of Opeth to the more progressive and cleaner side of the band’s material. The mixture of material appealed to all.
Throughout the night, visuals reminiscent of the Blackwater Park art, band member images and basic geometric designs were illuminated on the LED screens. The visuals were simple yet so powerful as the graphics were woven into band’s performance.
All these things help Opeth deliver a flawless set. Akerfeldt even shared memories with the crowd from his younger days being on the barricade at shows. He told stories of watching Rob Halford belt out “Beyond the Realms of Death” or seeing Dio from the barricade. Akerfeldt was a fan just like those anchored in front of him. These little stories of an aspiring musician at the time only added to the Opeth concert experience.
As expected, Opeth delivered a flawless set and illustrates that speed, intensity and pits are not required elements for an incredible live music experience.
Even though it’s early in 2020, Opeth’s North American In Cauda Venenum tour may just be one of the highlighted tours of the year. The one extra day in February was well worth the wait.