The Sword - Before getting to the Sword, a band I have seen and enjoyed many times, I am first impressed by my initial visit to this New York City landmark, built in 1932. It is huge, attractive, comfortable, and built for sound. It is a little odd seeing a band who headlines the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on such a huge stage, but it is hardly the first time for them, as they have opened for Metallica on a full tour. So they handle it well. And it is fitting that they are with Opeth on this tour, as the Sword is one of those metal bands for smart music fans. Insiders and critics love them, and they show a large crowd still filing in exactly why tonight.
It is simply great songwriting, staight forward playing, with fine dexterity in the field of metal. Yet you can tell these guys could play a variety of styles, but they have chosen metal. They don't pander to the genre as vocals are clear and direct with solid rock moves throughout the four members. The bass player adds some synth moves ala Geddy Lee, which gives more depth to their already full sound. They are connecting tonight with me and with the crowd, who gives them a strong ovation at set's end.
Opeth - I noticed some time ago that one of my favorite bands was planning to tour their new album, 'Sorceress', with three additional and special shows. When they visit the Sydney Opera House, London's Wembley Arena, and Radio City Music Hall, they promised to add a lengthier set where they would play their new stuff and old favorites first and then play a special set of songs from the twin releases 'Deliverance' and 'Damnation'. That sounded too good to pass up, especially with a quick all night train trip home, so off to NYC I go.
The show felt special in such a classic venue, and Opeth is a band that has earned the best. What mostly began as a death metal act with some very good progressive moves, has now turned into a full on progressive band blending in many exciting genres, who can still churn out some of the most creative metal music out there. The compositional qualities and sharp playing are extraordinary and you could hear every note of their approach tonight. The set list was great with 16 full songs (four more than in DC the previous night) including a balance of new material and favorites (of mine and the crowd). Then they played songs they haven't played in decades including a debut of 'By the Pain I See in Others'. You won't be getting that anywhere but here, Sydney, and London.
Michael Åkerfeldt was his usual funny engaging self, talking plenty, despite promising not to talk as much. Most interesting were his Damnation/Deliverance intros where he said the song wasn't one of his favorites. He said that about a couple, although one he admitted thinks sounds pretty good now that they are playing it. The crowd was enthusiastic but respectful of each other, the building, and certainly the band. So the stars aligned tonight and gave me a great concert to see off my blog. I will have one more post in a couple days. But tonight belonged to Opeth and I was glad to be there.