There was a point about halfway through the first disc of this immense DVD when I suddenly realised that the flag draped over the barrier at the front of the stage wasn’t the Swedish flag but the Norwegian one.
Either some Norwegian wanted to show the world he was there or some well-meaning British fan had brought the wrong flag to the gig. It’s only a minor thing really, but rather distracting. And it may be a telling point about this near-three hour long live performance from one of the world’s best bands that I could get distracted from it so easily. Because unlike groups like Tool and Pink Floyd who adorn their shows with visuals, lightshows and other effects to draw attention away from the fact that the band itself is pretty much just standing there, Opeth use only a big screen with some static images on it.
As magnificent a band Opeth is, and as flawless as this live version of Blackwater Park is also, the fact is that if you removed the visual part of this DVD you would miss nothing. Mikael Åkerfeldt doesn’t speak a word to the sold-out Albert Hall crowd for the entire 71 minutes of the first disc, and barely acknowledges them at all. As a live act, Opeth really isn’t the most dynamically interactive band. On the flipside, they are, as mentioned, brilliant and more capable of allowing the music to speak for itself than almost any other.
This special 20th anniversary performance was filmed and recorded at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall and features not only a meticulous live recreation of the Blackwater Park album but a second, even longer set that includes a song from each of their other albums, presented in chronological order. Unsurprisingly, every single track is spot-on, perfectly recreated in the live forum as it would be in the studio, so in essence this is virtually a best-of collection. Åkerfeldt becomes rather gregarious on this second disc, talking the crowd through the history of the band and even the genesis of some of the tracks, and Frederik Akesson finally gets some screen time, unlike on the first disc where the camera cuts away from him every time he starts soloing. As a visual spectacle however, it’s no different from the first, and at an hour and three quarters it is probably a bit of a long haul even for the most rabid Opeth nut.
If anything though, In Live Concert… is the supreme example of how great Opeth is and how they got to be that way. The playing time above doesn’t include the 40 minute interview and 45 minute tour documentary, only the actual concert itself. It might be tough to sit through all in one sitting, but it’s certainly something that needs to be seen.
- The Leper Affinity
- The Drapery Falls
- Dirge for November
- The Funeral Portrait
- Patterns in the Ivy
- Blackwater Park
- Interview with Mikael Åkerfeldt
- Forest of October
- April Ethereal
- The Moor
- Hope Leaves
- Harlequin Forest
- The Lotus Eater
- Documentary: On tour with Opeth