Opeth tends to be a safe bet for promoters. Their fans are particularly loyal and worship at the feet of guitar god; Mikael Åkerfeldt. So it’s no surprise that at the eleventh hour, the Limelight is a sell out leaving all those folk hoping for a last minute ticket at the door at a loss at how to spend their Friday night. The sell out can be largely attributed to having another legendary Scandinavian band in toe to open the proceedings; Enslaved.
Given the meagre slot of forty-five minutes, Enslaved were forced to be savvy with the time they were allocated and what better way to kick things off than with the eleven-minute album opener “Storm Son” from their latest release “E“. A running joke throughout the whole of their set, vocalist Grutle Kjellson suggests Opeth only took Enslaved on tour as they’re the only band who perform songs that last as long as the aforementioned headliner.
For a band as technical and intricate as Enslaved, the sound really was of paramount importance and although initially muddy, it had significantly improved for “Roots of the Mountain“; another lengthy epic clocking in at nine minutes. Working around a stage filled with speakers and instruments, the pairing of strobe lighting with the raging black metal guitars gave their performance an extra dimension, which made up for the little movement they were alotted on stage.
Not unlike Opeth, Enslaved has had an evolving sound over their fifteen plus years as a band. Set closer, “Sacred Horse” encapsulates just where the band are at the minute, layering relentless guitars with intense keyboards and mixing harsh vocals among clean choir-like chanting. A clinical performance where time was of the essence but not an ounce of quality was spared.
After a forty minute changeover, Opeth’s eventual presence to the stage was eagerly welcomed by the 900 strong crowd. Kicking things off with their latest album’s title track; “Sorceress“, the sound was immaculate from the outset and it’s no surprise given the pride frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt takes in his music.
Despite being one of the more intimate venues Opeth are likely to visit at this stage of their career, the band are unquestionably committed to their craft irrespective of the number in attendance. Their uncompromising musicianship is the only priority the band has once upon the stage and its clear many attendees wouldn’t have it any other way.
As the band went through a set comprising of “Ghost Of Perdition“, “The Wilde Flowers” and “Windowpane“, Åkerfeldt’s signature wry wit was on display, critiquing his performance and and offering anecdotes about past visits to Belfast.
There are not many bands who can turn ten songs into two hours, but when four of the ten span almost an hour alone, you’d be forgiven for losing interest…and it was apparent among the crowd. As each song closed the hum of chatting was audible throughout the venue and one couldn’t help that the indulgent eleven-minute sagas from Åkerfeldt and co were merely background noise to many of the attendees taking advantage of the venues refreshments.
Undoubtedly a band for the purist, Opeth are understandably held in the highest regard among both their peers and fans. A career-spanning set featuring lesser known tracks suggests a band who know their relevancy is in fan service through obscurity rather than singles. However, for all the rarities they could play, one track is held dearer than most and as Opeth come out for their encore, not one person is surprised to hear head trashing intro of “Deliverance” ring out around the venue.