Opeth at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, MI

Opeth @ Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak

The darkly enchanting progressive rock of Opeth spellbinds a packed house at the Royal Oak Music Theatre with special guests Graveyard.

Opeth visit the Royal Oak Music Theatre which is near capacity with eager fans. The dark mystery of Opeth continues with the release of their lucky thirteenth album titled In Cauda Venenum. This tour offers fans a chance to witness this latest musical journey while sampling from the extensive catalog that Opeth has to offer.

Label mates and fellow countrymen, Graveyard is up first. The band has been busy touring the world in support of the superlative Peace album. It is a treat to see them with Opeth. Joining Joakim Nilsson (vocals/guitar), Truls Mörck (bass/vocals), and Jonatan Larocca-Ramm (guitar/vocals) on the stage is Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats’ drummer Jon Rice.

Given that Graveyard are the only opening band, fans are gifted with a longer set. Graveyard makes the best of this situation by starting with the hypnotic grooves of “An Industry of Murder” from Lights Out. Graveyard takes the audience deep into the Hisingen Blues album by playing the rambunctious title track along with “Uncomfortable Numb,” “No Good, Mr. Holden,” “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” and “The Siren.”

The mix is a bit bass-heavy, but you still get to enjoy the tight riffs and electric blues leads from Jonatan and Joakim. Truls and Jon power up the pace on a burning “From a Hole in the Wall.” The only songs from the Peace album that Graveyard digs into are “Please Don’t” and “Cold Love.” Each song sounds fantastic, yet the best performance comes with “Please Don’t.” The provocative stomp on this tune is magnetic. Joakim’s rich and raspy vocals cast the vibrant intensity of this song throughout the theatre. The crowd sucks in the marrow of Graveyard’s performance with zeal.

The house lights dim and a projection behind the stage and along the front of the platforms comes to life. Floating lights resemble embers drifting into the sky as the intro instrumental “Livets trädgård” (The Garden of Life) from In Cauda Venenum plays. Opeth is greeted with a raucous cheer from the audience as they take their positions on the stage. Along the riser platforms on the stage are Martín Méndez (bass), Martin Axenrot (drums), and Joakim Svalberg (keyboards). Fredrik Åkesson (guitar) and Mikael Åkerfeldt (vocals/guitar) split the rest of the stage between them.

Our progressive musical communion with Opeth begins with “Svekets prins” (The Prince of Deceit). As Mikael sings the opening call, images of the band shouting out brilliantly burns across the projection screens. The guitars of Mikael and Fredrik sing with lust and vibrato. The amp modeling employed by each guitarist allows them to effortlessly switch between delicate acoustic and impassioned distortion. Thick fog enshrouds the riser platforms. This allows only the briefest of glimpses of Martín, Joakim, and Martin when the lights profile or backlight them.

Opeth takes us across a vast swath of their impressive catalog. Going back as far as Blackwater Park with the deathly progressive metal of “The Leper Affinity.” The band works forward with “Hjärtat vet vad handen gör” (The Heart Knows What the Hand is Doing) from the new album before jumping back to “Reverie/Harlequin Forest” from 2005’s Ghost Reveries. Regardless of the selection, Opeth’s performance is flawless and impressive. Martín and Martin deftly propel the band through a myriad of changes within “Nepenthe” and the brooding “Moon Above, Sun Below.”

These songs gain greater depth and added ambiance through the supporting light show. The projected images of moody dark woods, astral planes, hypnotic geometrical shapes, and falling points of light like graceful snow let your mind tell stories as the music unfolds. This draws the audience’s attention toward the music as opposed to the musicians on the stage.

Mikael mentions that he is under the weather and apologies for his slightly rough vocals. Regardless of a sore throat, he powers through the heavy growls that compel “The Lotus Eater.” As befits the title, “Allting tar slut” (Everything Ends) marks the closing of Opeth’s set. They take just a moment off stage as the clamor for more rises from the crowd. The band returns to play “Sorceress” and crescendo with the epic “Deliverance.” The audience spills out of the Royal Oak Music Theatre into the cold Michigan night sated with the ichor of music.

Website  Facebook  Twitter

Website  Facebook  Twitter

Website  Facebook  Twitter

About Chuck Marshall 45 Articles
Chuck loves music. If it is powerful and played with conviction, that is even better. In a past life, Chuck enjoyed thrashing on the stage in a Michigan metal band (Battalion). Now he prefers to use his imagery and words to capture the essence of a concert or an album. See and feel the music with Chuck; you’ll be glad you did.