On Monday night, April 30, 2012, a group of friends and I eagerly made our way into Showbox SoDo in Seattle to watch and hear Opeth, Mastodon, and Ghost. By the end of the night, we all agreed that it had been an excellent show from start to finish. The acoustics and sound quality in this venue were superb, and each band was firing on all cylinders.
I brought my Samsung TL500 camera with me, which in my clumsy, untrained hands is still more of a mystery than a comfortable tool. Nevertheless, I took pictures of each band — though not for long, because I wanted to immerse myself in the sights and sounds rather than fuck around with the camera. But the damned thing is nearly idiot-proof, and I got some decent pics, considering who took them. The best ones decorate this post. You can imagine how bad the others look. But first, a few notes about the performances.
I saw this Swedish band a few months ago in a smaller venue, and this performance was virtually a carbon copy of the previous one — except this time I didn’t get to hear them play their cover of “Here Comes the Sun”. After that earlier show, half-drunk and fully delirious, I posted a status on our FB page that to this day has received more “likes” than any of our notices about NCS content: “Any band who can make ‘Here Comes the Sun’ sound evil deserves a blowjob.”
That’s really Ghost’s trick in a nutshell: They write and perform these really catchy, quasi-psychedelic pop-rock songs that would have been right at home when Flower Power was king (except with a heavier low end), yet make them sound infernal. Their costumes and stage presence and the lighting really underscore that satanic aura in a live setting. The visual display is just a kick in the ass to watch. But make no mistake — whoever these dudes are, they are talented musicians, and the Pope has a killer set of pipes.
I don’t know how many people in this packed audience knew what Ghost was about before this show, but I heard lots of grinning metalheads talking about them throughout the night.
This band just kills it in a live performance. They played a really long set with songs scattered throughout their discography, and I was struck again by how really talented each of Mastodon’s members is as a musician. Perhaps the biggest standout for me was Brann Dailor’s drumming, which was truly superb — precise, incredibly varied, and marvelously designed to both fit and enhance each measure of the music. And man, everybody sings, too! And although Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds capably carry the main load, every member has a good voice.
And fuck, the light show! It was off-the-charts good. Beautiful colors and effects, and synchronized tightly with the music.
Opeth was the headliner on this particular night, and I confess that I approached the opening of their set with trepidation. I missed them the last time they were in Seattle on their first post-Heritage U.S. tour, but friends of mine who were there said the sound quality was muddy and the music was so heavily devoted to Heritage that boredom set in. And these are friends who have a greater tolerance for the prog-rock bent of Heritage than I do.
The set began with “The Devil’s Orchard” and it stayed in a Heritage-style vein for a long time, with nothing but clean singing and subdued instrumentals. Don’t get me wrong — the songs were good, for what they were, and the band sounded great. But I still got pissed off all over again.
Let’s be honest: I’m pretty sure the majority of the packed house of people in attendance that night were serious, long-standing Opeth fans, and they didn’t get to be Opeth fans because of a steady diet of songs like “The Devil’s Orchard”, “I Feel the Dark”, “Folklore”, or even “Burden”. I sure didn’t.
So, I tried to wait patiently, hoping for the appearance of at least a few of Opeth’s heavier songs. And thank dog, I got my wish. At the end of the night, they reached back to My Arms, Your Hearse for “Demon of the Fall” and closed out the set with “The Grand Conjuration” from Ghost Reveries. You could feel the energy level in the venue spike, and those songs got the loudest reaction of the night. But of course they did.
So I left Showbox SoDo happy and fired up and thankful, yet again, that I have metal in my life. All things considered, this was a great show.
Now, a batch of pics: