The Swedish progressive metal/rock act OPETH rolled into Jäähalli, Helsinki on a Wednesday night to a packed audience who were eager to catch a show during the tour in support of their latest album “In Cauda Venenum”. The band invited the Icelandic alternative rockers of THE VINTAGE CARAVAN on tour, which meant a very intriguing lineup for the middle of the week, and a successful beginning of the brand new concert season. Check out our photo gallery.
After THE VINTAGE CARAVAN played their first notes, it wasn’t a big surprise to me anymore to understand why this band appeals to frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt, their 60s rock-inspired psychedelic sound definitely was the right choice as an opener to the progressive metal act. Since I had not heard of the band beforehand, it was the first time for me to see them play live, and to get acquainted with their sound. A young trio emerged on stage and started rocking until they almost dropped dead, which resulted in a very entertaining, high-energy performance with much dedication and passion. During the first song frontman, Óskar Logi Ágústsson accidentally unplugged his guitar but reacted fast, and before we knew it the disaster was averted.
At the beginning of the show, the majority of the audience had not found their way yet to Jäähalli, but the number of people progressively multiplied as the songs went along, and the Icelandic trio definitely proved their worth to the Finns especially when the band started playing the catchy “On The Run”. The ultimate highlight to me, however, was the proggy “Innerverse,” a song that touched me deeply as it first started off very emotional, but got heavier and heavier as it progressed, which made it a great pick as a song for the set.
Finally, it was time for OPETH. When I rejoined the audience, a fairylike tape was playing on the background while the stage was filled with lights. It certainly set the right mood when the intro “Livets trädgård” started playing from the speakers. Before the show I had the possibility to have an interview with guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, he mentioned that the band had spent a bigger budget on the production of the show, and that was instantly clear while the band made their way to the stage. The lighting, the atmosphere, everything created an almost magical sensation from beginning to end, already clear from the first song “Svekets Prins” on. Having mostly an English repertoire, it was very interesting to hear the Swedish versions of “In Cauda Venenum”, but they worked surprisingly well, feeling a little bit more emotional than anything they have ever played.
While I thought that because this album was meant to support “In Cauda Venenum,” we could expect a lot more of that material, we only got served with three songs from the thirteenth studio effort. The rest of the setlist was filled up with great surprises, with an emphasis on the more progressive side of their material than their death metal repertoire. This meant that the set was in a way almost entrancing, and at the same time very relaxing. Mikael had a little bit of a cold, and this was especially at the beginning clear in his vocals, but as the set progressed it didn’t seem much of an issue anymore. This allowed for some very intriguing guitar solos, where I could transform myself into the 70s progressive rock scene with twin guitar-infused solos of bands such as WISHBONE ASH. Overall, the setlist was very well thought of and had plenty of highlights throughout the night, for me personally the best moments were the epic “Moon Above, Sun Below” and “The Lotus Eater”.
Going to an OPETH show is also getting a chance to be part of Mikael’s almost standup comedy-styled stage banter. Before the show, someone had explained the concept of tipaton (Dry January in Finland) and the idea to him was somewhat funny. Throughout the show, he made jokes and references about tipaton, and alcohol in Finland and, of course, as a Swede couldn’t resist to once in a while put in a hockey reference. Another great moment happened when he was talking about where he got his hat, and he spontaneously muttered that it makes him look like one of the KORPIKLAANI guys.
Stage banter aside, the show had to end at some point. The band ended the set with “Allting tar slut” but couldn’t resist coming back to the stage. They came back for more with “Sorceress,” which on the screen behind them showed the visuals of the music video, which definitely was one of my personal highlights of the evening. The band ended their set with their own “Smoke On The Water”… “Deliverance,” which got the audience excited all over again. All-in-all we were served with two great bands, making this a magical evening with a high-quality gorgeous performance of OPETH. Those who missed the show, now have the opportunity to witness the band’s show at Provinssi Rock.
1. Svekets Prins
2. The Leper Affinity
3. Hjärtat Vet Vad Handen Gör
4. Reverie/Harlequin Forest
6. Moon Above, Sun Below
7. Hope Leaves
8. The Lotus Eater
9. Allting Tar Slut
10. Sorceress (Encore)
11. Deliverance (Encore)