Latest release: Garden of the Titans – Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre (Moderbolaget)Website: www.opeth.com
Eight years ago, Opeth recorded a live reading of the sprawling 2001 meisterwerk Blackwater Park at the Royal Albert Hall for a double DVD release. It was in the same room where, forty-one years earlier, Deep Purple had recorded their Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and Opeth turned the cover art into an homage to their heroes.
“We sat in the exact spot in the hall where Deep Purple sat on the cover of their album,” says guitarist Fredrik Åkesson warmly of the photo that adorns their DVD, the entirety of which copies the Purple album exactly.
The cover of Opeth’s latest live DVD, which is released today, features a drawing of the band carved into the Red Rocks Amphitheatre were it was recorded, another direct Deep Purple homage. Unlike the veritable British rockers, however, Opeth aren’t about to release a live album every 18 months or so. Garden of the Titans is their first official live document since the Albert Hall show, capturing the band’s performance at the famed natural amphitheatre above Morrison, Colorado. A revered location for live recordings, it was the site of U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky concert film that helped set them on the path to super stardom. Like that show, Opeth’s plans were almost dashed by heavy rain.
“The rain was so heavy that before we went on we were very worried that we would not be able to play the show,” Åkesson recalls. “But in the end it cleared up enough for us and by the end there was no rain at all and it all went very well.”
Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt makes a reference to the inclement weather during the show, when he remarks that he won’t be taking his jacket off as planned. It forms part of one of his rambling between-song monologues that have become an Opeth tradition, delivered in his strangely self-conscious manner.
“We never even know what he’s going to say!” says Åkesson. “Sometimes it can be the funniest when one of his jokes don’t come off!”
The ten song set draws mainly from the band’s post-Blackwater Park catalogue, with that album conspicuous by its complete absence. It was a conscious decision to ensure that Garden of the Titans was a total departure from the previous live set.
“‘Drapery Falls’ was part of the set on the tour but we swapped it out with ‘The Devil’s Orchard’ because we wanted it to be different from the last live album where we played all of Blackwater Park,” the guitarist explains. “I think the only song we would never not play is ‘Deliverance’. That’s kind of our ‘Smoke on the Water’! It wouldn’t be an Opeth show, I think, if we didn’t play that.”