GIG REVIEW: An Evening With OPETH & ENSLAVED at The Academy, Dublin, Ireland
Swedish legends, Opeth, and Norwegian giants, Enslaved, are currently conquering venues across the U.K and Europe with their highly anticipated double bill. A show anyone with a ticket to has been wildly anticipating ever since it was first announced. And Irish audiences were no exception, though they might be an exception when it comes to the experience this double bill delivers. Whether other shows have followed suit throughout the tour, or whether their night in Dublin was a rare exception, is hard to know. What is certain is that their devoted Irish fans may well have left The Academy in Dublin feeling a little underwhelmed, on a night where Murphy’s Law seemed to have run riot.
With the venue doors barely opened, and with the crowd still being ushered in for the nights surprisingly early stage times, Enslaved, found themselves playing to an audience, half of whom where still trying to get inside. Playing on a stage that felt too small to perform a set that felt too short. Performing only a handful of tracks from their new album, ‘E’, before saying goodnight, Enslaved seemed be making their way off stage even as the audience was still growing with fans. Many of who had only got in for the final moments. However, for those who were fortunate to there throughout, some enthusiastic, well received “the stage isn’t too small, we’re just really big” jokes, and some powerful tracks, made for a lively, if short, performance from the Norwegian metal heads.
Unlike their predecessors, Opeth were met with a venue full to the rafters with excited, die-hard fans, ready for a great night. Unfortunately, on this occasion, Opeth fell short of their own incredibly high standards. Supporting their latest album, ‘The Sorceress’, the band’s set opened with the records title track. What followed felt like one of the tightest rehearsals one could ever hope to witness. As the band ploughed through tracks from “Ghost of Perdition”, “Windowpane” and “Moon Above, Sun Below”, the crowd and band both appeared to share a sense that something was lacking, that something was somehow amiss. A point brought home by vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt who, with his notorious dry wit and sarcastic tone, confessed that they, too, weren’t exactly sure what was going on with the show that night, and that they were still figuring it out. Whether that was the result of poor communications, venue problems, or some other unknown or unforeseen circumstances it was impossible to tell. Whatever the reason, though their performance was undoubtedly enjoyed by many in attendance, with its phenomenal light show and musicianship, there was no denying that the evening was missing that spark, magic, or whatever your preferred term is, on the night. It just wasn’t there.
Their ten-track set came to an end with “Deliverance” and it was time to go. Once it was all over, the highly anticipated return of Opeth back to Dublin felt like a missed opportunity as opposed to the triumph it could, and should have been. All the more reason for another show, sooner rather than later. One that hopefully brings the deserving Irish fans what they had eagerly awaited for, for such a long time, and queued up to be part of on a less than memorable night.