Ghost - This is the Swedish metal band, not the longer running Japanese communal masters. For this Ghost, the audacious approach is much less in the music and much more in the presentation. The incense was blazing at least 15 minutes prior to their entrance. The lights go down, the solemn liturgical music is piped in and robed figures with black masks under their hoods assume their positions at drums, bass, keyboards, and two guitars. The final figure in an old man guise, papal robes and hat comes on with incense censer. As the music kicks in, I am rather surprised at how basic and melodic things are. The vocals are quite clean in a Katatonia style, although the music is simpler metal. The band's movements are quite stylish and subdued in a church-like manner. It is actually a bit refreshing to see something theatrical that is mannered and low-key as usually it goes in the other direction and often way over the top. The keyboards assist in the droning sound at times. There is absolutely nothing brilliant at work here musically, but the style is a winner and the crowd (keep in mind, this is a smart bunch based on the next two bands) gets into this well enough. Very solid opener for this awesome bill.
Mastodon - Wow. What a co-headlining bill we have tonight! My two favorite prog-metal bands touring together and alternating the headline slots with both playing full sets. Too good to pass up even though I have seen both of these bands tour their previous albums. The US twin guitar quartet is up first and blasts through a long powerful set with very little space between the seventeen songs. Their sound is excellent again as the power always emerges from these tough looking guys. But they have great musical sensibility in the compositions and the delivery of their live set. It is comfortable, skillful music where you can let yourself go and rock out or sit back and admire the skill. This house did both tonight. These guys are road warriors and their fans don't need to hear much more from me on how good this was. They know it, and if you don't, you must not like great metal-hard rock-prog sounds.
Opeth - Apologies for the gory picture, but thanks to some excellent repair work, the Opeth show goes on despite guitar/vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt's head injury. Opeth share with Mastodon both a great style of metal and also a dedication to their live audiences, so they missed only one show in Minneapolis (under serious medical orders). Mikael and the band were in fine shape tonight as they began with several songs from their latest album, "Heritage", which is heavier in traditional prog as opposed to metal. The sound was not quite as powerful as Mastodon, but this material has more space in it. It allowed the keyboards to come through and trade some nice leads with each of the guitars. The set continued that way, but unlike the last tour through this area (Baltimore show reviewed here), they did bring out a couple of metal songs with the demonic voice. Both "Demon of the Fall" from "My Arms, Your Hearse" (I have to plug all Comus lyrics) and "The Grand Conjuration" from "Ghost Reveries" were great finishers to the set. "Demon of the Fall" pretty much sums up Opeth as they cover as many genres in six minutes and thirteen seconds as a versatile artist like David Bowie covered in an entire career. This definitely lifted the crowd. Personally I dug Heritage and I really appreciate the varied songs on their other albums (they are kind of essential). But it is good to see them mix and match their style more on this tour rather than do the full prog based song set they did last time around. But whatever they choose to do, I will be there as will a massive amount of people that have come to learn that the creativity you get at an Opeth show will yield some of the best music you will hear that year, no matter which songs they choose to focus on.
Quote of the Night: This from Mikael Akerfeldt on Tuesday from Opeth's Facebook page... "Hi guys! I'm writing from beyond the grave. Seriously, I was not in a car crash and I haven't broken my arm. All that happened is I hit my head in mastodons tour bus as I was getting a new pair of (red) underwear out from my suitcase. Wish the story was more rock and roll, believe me. Anyways I split my head open down to the skullbone and had to be taken to the emergency. They gave me a bunch of shots in the wound, cleaned me up and stapled my head shut with 8 metal staples. Head is sore and if I smile it feels like the wound is gonna burst open again, but I'll be on stage by tomorrow again. I feel extremely disappointed that we couldn't play at the myth in Minneapolis, but paramedics told me I couldn't. We will reschedule the show for our next trip to the USA. So all rumors of me being in a car crash are false. I did crash my head into a car though, well...a bus really. Sorry for disappointing our fans in Minneapolis but I hope you understand. See you next time. Best. Mikael"