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Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Drapery Finally Falls on India

Around 2 years ago, metal-thirsty people in India would be complaining about the complete lack of international metal shows in their country. Now, 2 years later India has already played host to big guns like Iron Maiden (who are returning for the 3rd time this year), Megadeth, Sepultura and Ensiferum and also to numerous lesser known bands like Enslaved, Anterior, Detonation and Sahg. NOW, IIT Chennai has been gracious enough to add another feather to the already birdlike cap by roping in progressive metal goliaths Opeth.

As far as I am concerned, I was facing a dilemma between Iron Maiden and Opeth (due to limited funding from the parents). But I decided to go for Opeth regardless of how I was getting another shot at the ‘Somewhere Back in Time’ tour. Needless to say, it was well worth it. I went with 2 of my friends (and my mom’s Nokia 6300 because the 1112 model does not have a camera) and we stayed at one of my friends’ cousin’s house. But as soon as our chug-chug rolled into Chennai Central station on the 24th of Jan…tragedy!!!! I landed RIGHT on my ankle from losing balance while de-boarding. Sprain!!! I was almost ready to cry. Not because it hurt, but because I might miss the show. But some hot water and crepe bandage and painkiller took care of it so no worries there. We reached IIT the next day and what we noticed first and foremost was the TOTAL lack of ANY signs that a band called Opeth were playing. But that was OK, because good friend Alok Meshram informed us of the location for the autograph session. We got there in the total dictionary definition of ‘nick of time’ as Opeth strode into the auditorium. A long hour and lots of traditional Madrasi vigilance (from the volunteers) later, my turn came. I was TREMBLING because I had with me an incomplete sketch of Mikael Akerfeldt that I wanted signed. First up was guitarist Fredrik Akesson at the table. Drummer Martin Axenrot signed next and then the sketch went to the man himself, vocalist/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt. The conversation was such:

Mikael: You made this? Yourself ?

Me: Yeah,but its incomplete…

Mikael: Its awesome.

The delight on my face was more than just palpable I’m sure. I then got it signed by bassist Martin Mendez and keyboardist Per Wiberg who I also shook hands with and then went WHOOPING out of there.

We were thirsty by then and that led us to reaching an already huge line for the Open Air Theater 15 minutes later than we could have reached. What resulted was an hour’s wait before the line started moving and the slow progress ensured that I got to just HEAR Demonic Resurrection from outside. FUCK Madrasi vigilance!!!!! Next up were veteran prog-rockers Motherjane from Cochin who came on stage with half their faces painted in Kathakali face paint!!!! Vocalist Suraj went on to explain how that was because they believed every person is half body, half spirit and music brings alive the spirit in you. I really appreciate how these guys have sautéed progressive rock/metal with Carnatic music. They played a longer set than required which led me to speculate whether DR, an extreme metal band had been asked to play a really short set (just 4 songs).

The time period that followed is the most anticipation-charged one at any international band gig, waiting for the headliners. There were cheers at every note played by the guitar techies and every beat from the drum techie. One awesome sight that I beheld when I turned back (I was around 4 rows from the stage) was a huge array of cellphone lights that shone like fireflies against the dark night. One of the reasons why the Chennai crowd is SO much better than the New Delhi one. But more on that later. It was time. The familiar thundering sound at the end of ‘Coil’ (from the new album ‘Watershed’) that signals the start of the epic ‘Heir Apparent’ now got everyone fighting their shivers with raging screams of ‘OPETH! OPETH!’. And slowly, they walked in, taking their respective positions and then as one huge monster played the 1st chord of the song. It had begun. The crowd already started agitating for the mosh but then decided its better to stand and listen because they’ll get few such opportunities. And the song was played FLAWLESSLY with Akerfeldt dishing out an amazing vocal performance (though the stage sound was a but problematic at first). I took it all in; the doomy chords, the furious double bass and the death growls. After they finished with ‘Heir Apparent’,the band corrected their monitors and then played a song that I was SURE they would play in the middle of their set but drove all over us right then which is the eclectic ‘The Grand Conjuration’. It just sounded so much SPOOKIER and grander in real life, especially the verse riff! And usually vocalists struggle to replicate their studio effort live, but it seemed like a total walk in the park for Mikael Akerfeldt. After they finished, Akerfeldt 1st interaction with the crowd turned out to be a bid for the people in front to move back and not stifle the ones in the 1st row!!!! Hahaha!!! Madrasi vigilance snares a big one!!! After which Akerfeldt waved a sheepish ‘hello’ to the crowd and then the band went on to play ‘Godhead’s Lament’ from ‘Still Life’. The entire setlist was OFICIALLY their longest EVER played (more than 2 and a half hours) and was such:

  1. Heir Apparent (from ‘Watershed’)
  2. The Grand Conjuration (from ‘Ghost Reveries’)
  3. Godhead’s Lament (from ‘Still Life’)
  4. Wreath (from ‘Deliverance’)
  5. Hope Leaves (from ‘Damnation’)
  6. The Lotus Eater (from ‘Watershed’)
  7. Bleak (from ‘Blackwater Park’)
  8. The Night and the Silent Water (from ‘Morningrise’)
  9. Deliverance (from ‘Deliverance’)
  10. Demon of the Fall (from ‘My Arms, Your Hearse’)

As encore:

  1. The Baying of the Hounds (from ‘Ghost Reveries’)
  2. The Drapery Falls (from ‘Blackwater Park’)

Throughout the show Akerfeldt kept up a constant banter with the crowd. He is a hilarious man onstage and unlike most metal vocalists who are trying to create a mean and imposing persona, he is quite the joker. Some snippets:

After ‘Godhead’s Lament’:

“We’ve been having quite a good time in India. We saw a few temples, which were quite fascinating. We’ve been eating a lot. Our keyboard player Per Wiberg got bitten by a spider. Mendez had sex with a monkey. What was I doing? I was watching Mendez have sex with the monkey”

After ‘Bleak’:

“ Martin is throwing a tantrum. He says he has a blister on his hand. Mama”

But being the corporate shithole that India is, the sponsors Nokia HAD to play spoiltsport. After ‘Demon of the Fall’, the band went off stage pretending their show was over. Enter stage-invading Nokia compère. The idiot said he could bring Opeth back if the crowd repeated ‘Touch Opeth. Feel Opeth. Play Opeth’. Homo. And then to top it all, he called Akerfeldt onstage to talk about the new Nokia . Here’s what Akerfeldt said:

“Well phones are obviously good but heavy metal is way better. Wait, my wife is calling. Hello? Are you naked? I should play more songs? OK”

After which they played their last 2 songs. It may seem funny now,but go read Akerfeldt’s Myspace blog and read all the abusing he’s done to Nokia India. He clearly HATED all of it.

About the Chennai crowd? Well it was amazing attending a show with them because EVERYONE knew their music (add to that some Bangaloreans and its almost a Wacken-like atmosphere). Unlike the Delhites who use metal shows as an excuse for unrelenting violence. Wannabes. They’ll mosh to anything (even The Superfuzz). So if you’re from Chennai or Bangalore reading this, THANK YOU!!!!

And so I sit here, content with my fill of Opeth, writing this review. If you didn’t go there, you missed possibly the GRANDEST conjuration India has ever seen.



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Very well written. Almost made me wish I'd been there myself. Almost. :P

Express said...


They din play Atonement
they din play Coil
[yea, my favs wid them :P]


missshheedd :(

Jadis said...

My reactions would be: -
1. ENVY!!!!
2. Unaccountably immense sorrow at having missed em.
3. Yahoo-Esselworld-ish expression coz India is getting into Metal. Yay baby!

Jesus Christ!!! Wish I had the money. :'(

Oh and I second Express. Why didn't they play Atonement? :|

Jadis said...

..But thank god it wasn't LoG. ;)

metal-militant said...


The music would have made you leave if you had been there.But thank you.

@Express and Jadis:

Well 'Coil' is just a soft little starter for an album,not good enough to start a show unlike the epic 'Heir Apparent'.But yeah,they should have played 'Atonement'.But if you've seen the conversations b/w Akerfeldt and Portnoy on 'Mike and Mike',Mikael says that the Watershed tour will be a heavy tour.And so I think 'Hope Leaves' was the only soft title they wanted to play.

And LoG would have been SCARY man!!I hate moshes,that's why.But it would still be cool.

Alok Meshram said...

There was a constant problem with the sound during the show, and Mike and Gang weren't as tight (esp. during the end of Deliverance)

But What the Hell I'm not complaining it was awesome. Especially the song selection (and yeah, I too expected "Ending Credits" or "Atonement", and I sorely missed "Master's Apprentices")

All I will say is I Love Opeth and I was glad I was there.

metal-militant said...

Any tighter and it would have been more of a Pink Floyd concert.

And they should have played 'Atonement' instead of 'Hope Leaves' and 'Master's Apprentices' instead of 'The Night and the Silent Water'

Shrutilaya said...


Disguise said...

We spoke about this~

you're on my blog

Maria Cláudia said...

Opeth was on my country Brazil on the last week and i agree with you: Mikael is very kind and funny too!
I love your drw too! Very beautiful!

metal-militant said...

Thank you Maria.Opeth are just TOO good.Welcome to the Processor.