Guest Post: A Live Review of Opeth in NYC


In this guest post, friend of the site Brandon Vaglio shares his show review of Opeth at Radio City in NYC.

For the second year in a row, I found myself entering the posh and luxurious lobby of Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall. Thankfully, this time I wasn’t here seeing the Rockettes with my family. Instead, I saw a plethora of prog and extreme metal fans crowding into the legendary venue. Tonight, Opeth would be playing.

This was not an ordinary Opeth show. Labelled as “An Evening of Sorcery, Damnation and Deliverance”, the show was to be divided into two sets. While the first was to follow the typical promotional set Opeth is playing on the rest of their US tour, the second was to be focused solely on the Deliverance and Damnation records, both of which had been remixed in the last year.

After braving the unorganized hell engulfing the merch table, I was escorted to my seat in the orchestra, only about six rows back from the left side of the stage. Within a span of a few minutes, the lights went out to welcome the night’s opening band, The Sword. As someone who is only vaguely familiar with the Sword’s brand of stoner metal, I was uncertain how they would go over with Opeth’s audience. However, as soon as those first chords rang out, The Sword showed no signs of intimidation. The monstrous guitar riffs consumed the theater, filling each balcony and bathroom while the hazy, southern-rock inspired passages slowly drifted amongst the audience. The rhythm section’s intense playing fit perfectly into the mix, grounding the riffs on a firm, gargantuan beat. With some catchy and soaring vocal melodies added on top, The Sword managed to claim the hearts of the audience by the end of their set, which lasted around forty-minutes.

With the hall almost completely packed, the lights turned off for the second time. Entering the main stage was Joakim Svalberg, Martin Axenrot, and Martin Mendez. Lacking any guitars, Axenrot signalled the beginning of “Sorceress, a groovy keyboard melody playfully layered over Opeth’s tight rhythm section. Laying on this groove for a bit, the audience erupted as two new figures joined the stage, Fredrik Åkesson and Mikael Åkerfeldt. A change in Svalberg’s melody led to another entrance into darkness, this time leaving Åkerfeldt and Åkesson to encapsulate Radio City with a simple, sinister riff. And like that, the band took off.

The first set was a perfect concoction of a greatest hits set with a few selections from the new album thrown in. Not shying away from their heavier past, the end of “Sorceress” led to the entry of the seemingly innocent, yet hauntingly dark, opening chords of “Ghost of Perdition.. The set’s flow seamlessly linked old favorite’s with new tracks. I was left impressed at how well the new material translated live with the rest of their discography. The chorus of “Sorceress” carried throughout the theater with a sense of power comparable to the other material, while “Will O the Wisp perfectly maintained that meticulously crafted atmosphere that “Face of Melindabuilt. The only moment of the set that seemed to lose the focus of the audience was the beginning of “The Wilde Flowers,, which admittedly has some of the weakest verses on the new album. But the thrilling musical interlude that was found in the second half, led by Åkesson’s blistering solo in the spotlight, quickly recaptured the audience. Åkerfeldt’s dry humor was also in top form, whether he was mocking Mendez’s ponytail, talking about abandoning the show to watch Twisted Sister’s farewell, or questioning the audience’s love of 80’s rockers Europe. The first set concluded perfectly with “Hex Omega“‘s doomy riff, allowing for a brief minute interlude before the band retook the stage.

Despite the great performances in the first set, the second set was what truly made the night an unforgettable one. Opening with a familiar sound for any Opeth fan, Window Pane“‘s opening riff set the scene for the beginning of the second hour. While “Windowpanemay have been a predictable move, the next three tracks provided a journey to the corners of Damnation that are not often explored. Particularly, I was stoked to hear “Death Whispered a Lullaby,, with that distant, wonderfully distorted solo hanging behind the main arrangement. Other notable contributions in this portion of the set included a beautiful solo by Svalberg over “In My Time of Need” and Axenrot nailing the percussion in Closure.. The mood was gently crafted and put the audience into a blissful trance…

…Which was promptly obliterated by the opening of “Master’s Apprentices,” the beginning of the Deliverance portion of the set. The shift was drastic, but we quickly adjusted and welcomed the upcoming heaviness that would be thrown at us. However, I personally was not prepared for the next song. With a hint of nervousness in his voice, Åkerfeldt announced that they had been rehearsing a song that had never been played before. Quickly recalling the tracklist of Deliverance, I realized what song would be next as several others screamed “BY THE PAIN I SEE IN OTHERS.”  And like that, Opeth entered what I would feel was the climax of the night. Åkerfeldt’s screams were at his fiercest, despite the massive set that had preceded that moment. The riffs in the end of the song stood out as some of the fiercest played that night. When the song ended, Åkerfeldt provided the band introductions, ending with a humble “We love you” to the audience before Axe signalled the classic, “Deliverance,” that ended the night.

If I was to sum up the show, I would call it a triumph for the band. A testament to their nonstop work and Åkerfeldt’s uncompromising attitude as an artist (even if that has led to some less-than-satisfying songs littered through their discography). If I was to make a complaint about the show, it would be that Åkerfeldt’s guitar seemed a bit buried in the mix towards the beginning of the Deliverance set (Also they didn’t play “To Rid the Disease”). However, any issues were overshadowed by the strength of the individual performances and the perfectly-crafted setlist.

Set One:

  • Sorceress
  • Ghost of Perdition
  • Demon of the Fall
  • The Wilde Flowers
  • Face of Melinda
  • Will O the Wisp
  • The Drapery Falls
  • The Devil’s Orchard
  • Hex Omega

Set Two:

  • Windowpane
  • Death Whispered a Lullaby
  • In My Time of Need
  • Closure
  • Master’s Apprentices
  • By the Pain I See in Others
  • Deliverance

Big thanks to Brandon Vaglio for sharing his experiences with us!

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  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Shit, Link is gonna be fuming because they played The Drapery Falls. And that setlist is a friggin’ snooze fest. Even when the band lineup was different, during the Blackwater Park era, they still hardly played shit from the first two albums. Lame.

    • Elegant Gazing Globe

      They played at radio city man, the set(and artists) have to be as wonder bread as possible.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain


    • Jack Rabbit

      I consider anytime Mike plays a song from the first four albums a victory. It could’ve been like the Lamentations DVD where nothing pre-Blackwater Park was played. That said, it does kinda blow that he basically ignores the first two.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        This. I think Blackwater Park is still an amazing album and I even think Ghost Reveries and Watershed are still great, but I can’t figure out for the life of me why the first two albums are so fucking underrated. It seems the “Opeth love” for most people begins from MAYH onwards. What’s wrong with Orchid and Morningrise? Those albums take you on a richly textured trip and then some. Those albums for some reason also had some kind of “black metal feel” without the music itself being actual black metal.
        Meanwhile, I’m gonna spin Black Rose Immortal.

        • Jack Rabbit

          Sure it isn’t the only reason, but part of it could be the rhythm section. Lopez, who is basically revered by Opeth fans, started on MAYH, and De Farfalla’s bass playing is more prominent and weirder than Mendez

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        And I’m not trying to do the usual harping of “their old shit is the best” kind of thing. But they literally never played that shit. If there was a guarantee they would play The Apostle in Triumph, I would be there in a second.

    • I felt asleep at the sole mention of that title!

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        You son of a bitch.

    • The Bakery Balls

  • Ayreonaut

    I saw the sword live a few months ago at my local venue and they put on an awesome show.
    Must of been a weird experience having to be seated at a metal concert.

  • Jack Rabbit

    Guess I forgot to provide my disqus info when I emailed that. 😀
    Thanks for posting this, cool to have my writing be out there for others to see

    • W.

      Thanks for doing it, little bunny man.

      • Jack Rabbit

        Anytime, thanks for dealing with another Opeth article this week

        • W.

          We’re riding this new release click wave to Valhalla.

  • Dr. K

    Sounds awesome. I’m feeling vague regret that I’m passing up seeing them this weekend, though I’ve seen them plenty of times over the past 13 years.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Damn! This write up was superb! Thanks Jack Rabbit!

    I’ll be seeing Opeth and The Sword in a few weeks, can’t wait.

    • Jack Rabbit

      Thanks 😀

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Oh, it’s you!

        • Jack Rabbit

          *awkwardly shuffles feet*

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Can’t wait to read more Jack Rabbit show reviews, this was very concise and descriptive.

            You should check out more of The Sword’s material, they’re a favorite of mine.

          • Jack Rabbit

            Will do, a friend of mine has been recommending them for a while but I never actually listened to them…cuz I’m a nerd and stuff.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            The Sword is one of the many definitions you will find under “nerd metal”

    • tigeraid

      Hopefully without Low Country acoustic versions AMIRITE!?

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        you right

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa


    • Dubya made this. Direct your ire at him.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      This hurts my eyes.

    • I needs to listen to that new Asphyx album still. Too much!

    • JWEG

      I just told my students to never use garish colour combinations online.

      This would be an excellent example of why, but I’m sure showing this site in class would get me in too much trouble…

      • Count_Breznak

        For the best reading experience you just have to make sure they are comlementary. Laugh at their headaches after 20 slides of blue letters on orange background.

        • more beer

          That color combination kills me every time I am out in Denver on days the Broncos play.

    • tigeraid

      Ye gods.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Opeth is always a near religious experience live. So sad this tour isn’t hitting Denver. Especially with some of their heavier stuff!

    • more beer

      But there are always good shows in Denver. Denver Black Sky has a pretty damn good lineup on December 10th.

      • xengineofdeathx

        Fuck yeah. There is also Napalm and Misery Index. And Planes Mistaken for Stars coming up. There’s always an awesome show. People sleep on Denver as a metal town.

        • more beer

          Yes the do. The scene here is strong. There are a lot of good local bands too. Even if there are no shows going on. We have 2 metal breweries. It is certainly a good place to live in and be a metalhead.

  • James

    seems like an apology for the new album….lol

  • Max

    Opeth’s music today is like stepping back in time to the ’70s, but with shallower toms that don’t have the resonator heads removed.

  • Eliza

    Pretty good set, especially the second part. Must be awesome to see Opeth live.

    • Do you get to see many shows in your neck of the woods, Eliza?

      • Eliza

        No, unfortunately. No metal shows at least. There are some festivals from time to time in my area, but not metal festivals.

        • Aww 🙁

          Like how far away are they? Not the kind of thing you could just drive an hour or two to see, I take it?

          • Eliza

            No unfortunately not. At least there’s YouTube, right?


  • Waynecro

    Excellent write-up, Vagliobro. Thank you! I used to see Opeth whenever I had the chance (I think I’ve seen them three times). I usually pass on Opeth shows nowadays, but I always regret doing so just a little bit.

  • Cockypock Aioli

    Nice post. I need to go buy a ticket already.

  • Ted Nü-Djent ™

    This show sold out for Sydney which is being played at the Opera House. I’m bummed, even more so now I’ve read this

  • my buddy Kevin was at this show! he said it was a “no flush”, in not so many words.

  • The Unicorn