Opeth and Katatonia
October 11, 2011
MacEwan Hall, Calgary, Alta.
Review and photos by Monika Deviat
Sweden’s Opeth and Katatonia teamed up for a tour of North America in October - Opeth to promote their latest release Heritage [Roadrunner Records, 2011] and Katatonia in celebration of their 20th anniversary as a band. The two bands stopped in Calgary, Alta. on October 11, 2011 to play MacEwan Hall.
This was Katatonia’s first time in Calgary and they discovered they have a sizable fan base in the city. As we found in our interview with Anders Nyström, the band is playing to larger crowds than they’re used in North America, made of up Opeth fans for the most part. The band received positive reactions to their set which sampled heavily from their most recent works The Great Cold Distance [Peaceville Records, 2006] and Night is the New Day [Peaceville Records, 2009] and they did include songs from their earlier recordings as well. Some highlights of the evening included “My Twin”, “Leaders” and “Wait Outside”. Unfortunately the overall sound wasn’t as good as it should have been - in some songs like “Leaders” you could not hear the guitar parts clearly. At the end of Katatonia’s set the crowd chanted for one more song but the band took their bow and had to leave the stage.
Opeth’s tour consists of a lot of songs they have never played live, and if you’ve been paying attention, the sets generally lack death growl vocals. Opeth have set the tone of this tour to match that of Heritage; lots of progressive elements, acoustic guitars and amazing clean vocals from Mikael Akerfelbt. The evening was laid back, mellow and brilliant. Opeth began with the two opening songs off Heritage, “The Devil’s Orchard” and “I Feel the Dark”, the first song for which Fredrik Akesson switched an electric for an acoustic guitar. “Porcelain Heart”, a song that had never been played live before, featured a killer drum solo by Martin “Axe” Axenrt. There were some other more obscure songs on the set list like “The Throat of Winter” and “Patterns in the Ivy II”. During instrument changes and tunings Akerfelt joked around and regaled the crowd with random stories. Joakim Svalberg’s complex keyboard parts were reminiscent of Gentle Giant, especially in “Nepenthe”. The set ended with “Hex Omega” and was followed up by “Folklore” as the encore.
Overall it was a good concert. For a show of this type though, a theater setting would probably have made the overall sound and mood much better. MacEwan Hall is essentially a concrete box which always makes it difficult to get the sound mix correct throughout the entire hall.