This past week had held within itself the holy grail of metal shows to see this year. Opeth and Mastodon have begun their 2012 North American tour, and on April 26 they crushed the Gibson Ampitheatre stage in front of countless fans.
The night started early with special guest openers Ghost getting the crowd amped up for the headlining acts. I unfortunately arrived at side-stage just as they wrapped up their final song, “Ritual.” Even with just witnessing this last song, you could visibly see the how the crowd was digging Ghost’s vibe, stage presence, and sound. Everyone applauded in the flood of red light while the band made their leave to make way for Mastodon.
The energy was high as very damned soul in the pit threw devil horns in the air while Mastodon walked across the stage. A sudden burst of lime green spot lights lit up the room as the beginning riff of “Black Tongue” tore through crowd’s cheering. The level of intensity that Troy Sanders emitted while wailing out the vocals and bashing his bass was astounding. He was running all across the stage, feeding the audience with great stage presence and head banging more than the best of us. Bill Kelliher was constantly playing to his fans in the front rows, standing on the edge of the stage in the stance of a massive titan you do not want to mess with. The entire set list flew by with Mastodon knowing just how to amp up the entire crowd. They saluted their fans with gratitude before beginning their final song, “The Sparrow” which ended their evening with a fantastic solo from Brent Hinds and the same awesomely pounding riffs they began the night with.
It was now that time for metal gods Opeth to stake their claim on the night. The room erupted into a frenzy as they made their way onto the floor. Blue lights illuminated the band’s silhouettes as they began to play “The Devil’s Orchard” from their latest album, Heritage. Mikael Akerfeldt’s voice rang clearly through the phenomenal music that was being played, emitting album-quality sound as they do in all their performances. Next they played “I Feel the Dark,” “Slither,” and “Windowpane” keeping up the generally mellow pace of their previous Heritage tour. In between about every other song, Mikael Aferfeldt takes a small break to have a little chat with the audience and really establish a connection with fans. A few comments involving how the band was in Las Vegas the prior night, and Mikael had too much to drink and was still feeling “a little vomity.” They began to play several more fan favorites throughout the night such as “Burden,” “The Lines in My Hand,” and “Folklore.” Akerfeldt gave more commentary on how playing “The Lines in My Hand” reminds him of playing old Misfits and Dead Kennedy songs “because it was fucking fun!” Most of the evening was following in suit of their Heritage album and tour; a more mellow and progressive rock feel, but the real brilliant moment of the night is when Opeth surprised everyone with their final songs. Mikael had paused and began to reminisce about how Opeth had recorded an album in “the anus of Sweden, Gothenburg,” and how their drummer at the time would be found “sleeping in the bathroom with a pile of porno mags as a pillow.” With the tease that the next song is about “demons”, the entire amphitheatre exploded in elation and cheering. “Demon of the Fall” began blast and you could feel the rush of energy take you over. Then Opeth capped off the whole evening with “The Grand Conjuration,” truly surprising their fans and making the evening a night to remember. Their talent and level of musicality is impeccable and always a thrill to go see. Opeth always delivers phenomenal shows that do not disappoint, and this was no exception.