On October 22, Opeth stopped by the Warfield in San Francisco. The Swedish band opened with the titular track from their new album Sorceress and went straight into a face melting performance of “Ghosts of Perdition”. Nothing could have prepared me for how excellent this group sounds live. Their playing was so precise and clean, it was as if I were listening to a studio recording. In addition to their flawless sound, they also managed to posses the rawness that makes live music distinctly different from studio recordings.
When lead singer Mikael Åkerfeldt wasn’t summoning demons with his trademark growling, or angels with his rich, crystal clear, baritone voice, he was uttering cheeky comments to the audience. While they left the talking to Åkerfeldt, Martin Mendez, bass, Martin “Axe” Axenrot, drums, Fredrik Åkesson, guitar, and Joakim Svalberg, keyboards, all delivered substantial performances and were extremely in sync with each other.
Their set list was the perfect balance of both their earlier progressive death metal repertoire and their newer, “tamer” prog-rock material. Playing songs off of Ghost Reveries, Damnation, Deliverance, and Blackwater Park, as well as songs from Pale Communion and Sorceress. When announcing that they would play their last song, Åkerfeldt joked, “We’re old. We’re not fucking Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know what he’s on.”
For their encore, the band did a request medley, in which they took suggestions from the crowd and played a few bars from each song. However, the songs people were requesting were ones they had seemingly not practiced in a long while. This served as a nice reminder that the members of Opeth are human and not robots sent by the Swedish government to take over the world with their progressive perfection.