When it was announced 2 or so years back that Opeth would perform in Singapore, I went ecstatic. However, that 2010 concert did not materialize and many Opeth fans including myself went from one end of the spectrum of excitement to the other of disappointment.
2 years have passed. And in 2012, Opeth finally made it onto Singapore soil. The excitement in me was rapidly rekindled and spent my days counting down to 9th of February – the day of their inaugural concert here. The wait was, needless to say, rather agonizing, given the fact that I started listening to Opeth in 2004 or so and that I have always fantasized myself within the concert crowd whilst watching their Live DVDs.
Around one week before the concert day, me and my friends from Heavy Metal Tribune received a surprise invitation email from the Embassy of Sweden to meet the band – Opeth themselves to a reception over at the Swedish Residence in celebration of their nomination for the Swedish Grammys and Swedish Music Export Prize.
Pleasantly surprised, we anticipated how the reception would turn out. And, of course, with Opeth one of my all-time favourite bands, I was simultaneously intensely happy and nervous that I am going to meet the minds that created such beautiful music that accompanied me through these years. Me and my friends decided to get roasted pork slices “Bah Kwa” (a popular Singaporean snack) as small tokens of appreciation for both the Embassy of Sweden and Opeth. I hope you enjoy this delicacy tidbit as much as Singaporeans do!
When the band walked into the residence building, I couldn’t believe my eyes and my level of excitement skyrocketed. However, with the band’s friendly and approachable demeanor and the free flow of drinks and finger food, we started to ease up and mingled around with the band and the representatives from the Embassy.
Of course, it didn’t take long until we fished out our own CD booklets and camera. I managed to have a little chat with the frontman Mikael while he signed on the “Orchid” album, which was my favourite album of theirs. I mentioned to him that and that I especially enjoy “Apostle In Triumph” a lot. Mikael quipped in that “he was very pleased when he wrote it, at that time and that he was 19 years old when he composed that song.” Most people sure weren’t creating anything significantly phenomenal at 19 years of age!
Autograph signings and group photographs swiftly ensued, and only then the reality of having met, being in the same room, shook hands, spoke and taken photographs with one’s favourite band had fully sunken in.
This wouldn’t have taken place without the hospitality of the Swedish Embassy. I thank the Embassy for the cordial invitation and the warm reception. One of the representative also gave us an extremely brief history lesson on the Swedish Nobility system and country’s past. The guest living room was routinely fitted with different styles of furniture to reflect the Sweden at that given moment.
So then, part 1 of the Opeth Experience concluded, and we headed off to Fort Canning Park for the main beef – their long awaited debut concert.
It was around 6.30pm when we arrived at the concert venue and there were already a good number of anxiously waiting fans scattered around the steps towards Fort Gate. The quiet and calm ambience, at least on the exterior, of the waiting crowd was cruelly teased when the band did a quick run-through of “The Grand Conjuration” during the soundcheck duration. Applause, cheers, chants of “Opeth! Opeth! Opeth!” and gentle head bobbing were already clearly evident.
The crowd simply cannot wait any longer and people were already started to spill over the entrance lines. They wanted Opeth and they want it now.
The patience finally paid off as the concert staff began admitting concert goers into the venue. All I can say is you seldom see fully grown men running with such glee to the front of the stage and pretty much screaming inexplicably at the same time. I shall not say better of myself, I did that too.
After duration of pure agonizing wait did the Opeth finally appeared on stage which the crowd welcomed extremely enthusiastically. The band started their show with mostly numbers from their latest album – “Heritage” which was this current tour’s main emphasis. “The Devil’s Orchard” seamlessly transited to “I Feel The Dark” as according to the flow of the album itself. The musical virtuosity of the band was clearly, effortlessly and indubitably shown and heard from the early stage of the concert.
When “Face of Melinda” from their “Still Life” album started, I felt a deep sense of surreal as I have always envisioned myself witness this song played live before my eyes. The mellow beauty of this song created such a special ambience that so easily transmitted from the band to my core of being. The same elegant phenomena again occurred to me when “To Rid The Diease” from “Damnation” album was played, albeit it took a more morose turn. It was a very personal moment for me as I placed high regard in their “Damnation” album, its quiet melancholic nature strongly reflected my inner thoughts and the such. I stood in a reverie, lost, glad and sad at the same time.
The band said they were feeling “a little chill” at the moment and continued to ooze out songs like “Slither”, “Folklore” and “Credence”, the latter from the “My Arms, Your Hearse” album.
One hilarious moment at this moment was that someone from the floor requested for more Satanic music. Mikael asked if we liked Satanic music and suggested “Credence” as an option as It was “semi-Satanic”. He then turned to Martin Mendez and said “”Martin is a Satanist. Martin is a Buddhist. Martin is a Christian. Martin is an asshole.” The fact that he is able to pull off deprecating humour with such a deadpan straight-face is beyond me.
Speaking of Mikael’s side-career talent at accidental comedy, there were a couple of monologues to remember.
“Fistbanging, they do this before they invented headbanging.” And he added that he is too old for that shit [headbanging], but the crowd can always do it because it’s fun to watch.
“Dubstep. I don’t know what’s that but it sounds like an exercise machine to me.” – Mikael Akerfeldt on the topic of modern music, Dubstep and the like.
When “Heir Apparent” started, it was a sure hint to the crowd that the band has finished with their “chill” phase of the night and things were about to get heavy which the crowd gladly welcomed. The intensity went at an increasing rate when it entered into “The Grand Conjuration” from “Ghost Reveries”. By this juncture, necks were plentifully seen swinging in all gusto and devil horns strewn across the horizon. The onslaught did not let up as we were treated to the immaculate orchestration of “The Drapery Falls” from the seminal fan-favourite record “Blackwater Park”. When the first riffs of “The Drapery Falls” emitted from the stage, truthfully I felt goosebumps and something profound within me unlocked itself as I launched myself into the sheer unrequited bout of uncontrollable headbanging. The show ended with another blistering fan-favourite “Deliverance” from the album of the same name, the madness and energy of the crowd at this point of time were coagulated into one epic aural supernova. All I remembered during the second heavier portion of the concert was a stream of beautifully brutal and ambitiously grandiose Opethian brand of music flowing into my ears as I smiled deeply and widely to myself as I continued headbanging. This sensation I will remember for a long time to come.
Thank you so much for such an unforgettable and unbelievable experience, Opeth.
Singapore awaits your return shortly.
May this be the advent of Opeth’s relationship and visitor-ship with this country. – LingNemesis
Revision Entertainment and Steel Harvest Productions presented one of the most highly anticipated progressive metal gig in Singapore on the 9th of February in the already very heavy metal laden year of 2012 – Opeth’s Heritage Tour, exclusively in Southeast Asia. Rocking Singapore at Fort Gate, Fort Canning, the early crowd at the gates largely consisted of fans congregating from all over Southeast Asia. The concert venue itself was a small, flat and grassy knoll, able to nicely accommodate the estimated 500-odd crowd that eventually showed up as the evening wore on, while maintaining sufficient intimacy and closeness with the band.
The one-and-a-half hour show got off to a rocking start as Opeth opened with The Devil’s Orchard, an energetic opener for both the Heritage album as well as this gig. This helped soothe the impatient crowd due to the late starting time and started some head bobbing. The first half of the set were largely dominated by slower, almost prog rock/acoustic songs from Opeth’s extensive archive such as Face of Melinda, Credence and To Rid the Disease. Evidently, this somewhat disappointed a lot of fans who had been hoping for copious amounts of rapid progressive death metal.
However as the show moved into its second half, the heavier songs more or less rounded off the entire show, beginning with Heir Apparent, off one of their highest chart-topping release, Watershed. The next song, Grand Conjuration, was different from the previous setlist from Summerstorm Festival in Bangalore, where Baying of the Hounds was played instead. The entire show was finished off with Deliverance, which frontman, Mikael Åkerfeldt humorously claimed was the encore except they do not pretend to go off stage and wait for the crowd to call for an encore.
Speaking of humor, the show was not short of Mikael’s, almost legendary-by-now, dry humor. Hilarious quips were in no short supply, like “Dubstep. I don’t know what’s that but it sounds like a exercise machine to me” as well as band deprecating humor – “Martin is a satanist. Martin is a Buddhist. Martin is a Christian. Martin is an asshole.” – all served to give the audience the Opeth experience they would have came to expect.
Overall, the sound was brilliant, with the exception of Mikael’s growls which are always lost in the mix. Another gripe that was most prominently heard on the ground was that there simply wasn’t enough songs from Opeth’s heavier repertoire. I guess fans can only place it down to the fact that this was the Heritage Tour, in support of a their Heritage album. But no matter, it was still a very tight and well-executed show, and this is one for the ages. – JJ Yeo
The Devil’s Orchard
I Feel the Dark
Face of Melinda
To Rid the Disease
The Grand Conjuration
The Drapery Falls
The Opeth Experience: A HMT Exclusive