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OPETH

Opeth - Photo By Denis Radacic
Opeth – Photo By Denis Radacic

Voyager

Astor Theatre
Friday, May 8, 2015

Swedish band Opeth are one of the biggest heavy metal acts in the world. With a career spanning decades and a whopping 11 studio albums under their belt it’s no surprise that they can sell out shows all around Australia. The Perth show was no exception, with the 1000+ capacity Astor Theatre completely sold out.

Warming up for Opeth must have been a daunting task but Perth locals Voyager knocked it out of the park.  Frontman Daniel Estrin is an incredible vocalist, his voice soaring across the room, piercing through the madness with astounding grace. Musically, Voyager are a classic metal band, but there’s a strong influence of funk and groove metal that takes it to the next level – if you’ll forgive the cliché. Voyager put just as much effort into their performance as they do their songs, combining the over-the-top theatrics of the ‘80s with the energy of a modern hardcore band.  Revelling in the joy of playing with their heroes, the band got the entire crowd shouting “Opeth” before closing out the set with their 2011 track, The Meaning Of I.

The lights dimmed and Opeth walked onto the stage, the crowd screaming as the band leapt into their opening tracks – Eternal Rains Shall Come and Cusp Of Eternity – which also open up their latest album, Pale Communion. While a swarm rushed to the front of the stage, seated fans took to the aisles, eager to get in on the action with standing-room quickly becoming a crowd crush. After finishing the first trio of songs, frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt explained that his throat was a little croaky, but he was going to do his best to “scream and shit” – a hint that they would be exploring a few of their older and heavier songs, which drew an enormous cheer from the crowd.

The band’s earlier work had been missing from the their set list on previous tours – which they immediately rectified, launching into The Moor from their 1999 album, Still Life. The inclusion of the popular, heavier music was a pushbutton for craziness at the front of the stage, the fans exploding into chaos. Åkerfeldt would later state that while he usually wouldn’t ask fans to mosh, he’d make an exception as he was having a great time watching them from the stage.

Heading back into their latest album, they played the fan-favourite Elysian Woes, followed by Windowpane from their 2003 Damnation album. Åkerfeldt took some time to speak to the crowd, recalling his entry to the band at age 16. Joking that when he joined the band as bass player, he was actually incapable of playing bass, so he was lucky that then guitarist was fired, so he could take over the role. Sure, the story may have been slightly embellished, but it was good to see the band joking around, adding a little humour to their performance.

Launching into April Ethereal, followed by The Lotus Eater, the crowd burst into a frenzy, waves of fans flinging themselves into the chaos at the front of the room. Finishing up with The Grand Conjuration from their 2005 album The Ghost Reveries, they said goodbye and left the stage – but not for long. Sticking to the tradition of giving the crowd an encore, they returned to the stage for one last song – but not before riffing on some classic Metallica tunes. They finished up with the 13 minute masterpiece Deliverance, from the 2002 album of the same name. It was the perfect end to the night, winding up what was an amazing performance. Opeth are heading back to Europe now, but if you want to catch Voyager they’re starting a national tour towards the end of the month.

DAN MULLINS