Opeth in Providence

I arrived in Providence on the train, unconscious of the fact that it was in this city that saw the tragic and untimely demise of Great White following that foolish application of pyrotechnics. Arriving early, I met with Jason who told me everything was sorted for the show. Opeth were playing first, he said, so expect a late night. S’okay, I said, my train was to be at 12.45. He looked dubiously at me – gulp.

I wait for the doors to open, flitting from street to Starbucks and back. Eventually I meet up again with Jason and Ian, and we go for a Chinese – a welcome respite in the hanging around. Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe its the act of being alone in a strange city. Whatever.

Lupo’s is a dive, looking like the sort of place you might see in a film set, like Bladerunner without the rain. This was nothing if not authentic, right down to the lack of doors in the gents. The stage is in the centre pf an oblong, with space at either side. Beside it are two pool tables, the players oblivious to the fact that a band is playing at all. The crowd outside is a regular mix of post-punk, goth, beachbums and rock and rollers, each no doubt planning on finding their own personalities reflected in the music.

Doors open. Audience file in, unconscious of the fact that their meek behaviour is at total odds with their rebellious attire. Positions are taken and the stage is set.

Opeth walk on and the applause is rapturous, even more so as they break into their first song. It’s a slow number, a strange one to start with, but it is unlikely that it will stay slow for long. Indeed, the pace picks up. More rapturous applause. It’s going to be a goodnight for the Opeth fans. Unfortunately it doesn’t do anything for me. I should say I’m hopeless at listening to bands that I don’t know the music of, but it sounds a bit pedestrian and indulgent, like a cake with all the right ingredients but which has been left in the oven too long. Maybe I’m getting too old. It doesn’t help that I can’t hear the guitars properly – they are there, but added, it would appear as an afterthought. Given the fact that the singer is also on guitar, I find that unlikely. There is a lack of energy, which is more likely, the sound is trying to be deeply moving but it has more of a soporific effect.

The next song starts out acoustic, but gradually the other instruments join. This is more like it – a rhythmic number that harks to the orient, Aziz Ibrahim would be comfortable playing on this one. It might be called the darkness. It builds up, to a crescendo which I listen to from behind the one door in the John. It was a good song, and I am maybe now better able to appreciate the music. Was it me, or does the floor sway in Lupo’s? I wish I could blame it on the alcohol, but I am stone sober.

Opeth’s set continues as it should. A good band, consummate musicians giving the audience what the want. I don’t think anyone would accuse them of being showmen though, with each song pausing for a changeover of instruments and a brief introduction, it is difficult to build a flow.

Opeth in Providence

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