Opeth / Enslaved – O2 Ritz, Manchester (15th November 2017)

“It’s been far too long since I’ve been to a concert,” I thought to myself as I entered the Ritz again that night. The sounds, the light show and most importantly the electric atmospheres in the crowd; I’d missed all that. So, I thought what better way to head back to concert-going than with seeing two of my favourite bands play long sets. Though admittedly, Enslaved’s set could have been a bit longer.

Out of all the bands I’ve seen multiple times, Enslaved (9) currently hold the record at 6 times in the past 2 years. And every single time, they somehow just keep getting better and better. Sporting new keyboardist Håkon Vinje, the band opened with the brand new and expertly crafted “Storm Son” which sadly suffered a few minor sound issues. Whilst these were rectified rather quickly, throughout the set the vocals became a little lost behind some of the instruments.

The three part harmonies on the newer material, however, translated perfectly in the live environment with “Sacred Horse” in particular sounding truly magical. Whilst I would have liked their set to have lasted longer than 50 minutes, “Opeth’s weird Norwegian cousins” delivered a thoroughly enjoyable set and I heartily look forward to next time I catch them.

Enslaved Setlist O2 Ritz, Manchester, England 2017, E

After a short interval/changeover, the atmosphere in the venue became truly electric as the lights dimmed and the traditional opening melody came over the PA. Opening with the title track from the latest album Sorceress, the response from the crowd was surprisingly calmer than I was expecting. Admittedly, you can’t really mosh to a song like “Sorceress” but given Opeth (9)‘s back catalogue, I was at least expecting a few mosh pits to rear their heads during “Ghost of Perdition”. That being said, the amount of heads banging and people singing back to the band was immense and at points, from where I was stood, they almost drowned out Mikael.

Speaking of Mikael, he was actually rather good tonight. His clean vocals were sounding as angelic as always but at points his harsh vocals became rather lost against the mix of instruments. The rest of the band, in particular keyboardist Joakim and bassist Martin, were on top form and never missed a beat. This was impressive given that the band brought out some rarely played tracks such as “Häxprocess” and one of my all time favourite songs, “Hessian Peel”. Couple that with their rather impressive light show and also the moving pictures on a screen, and the performance should have been nigh on perfect. However, like Enslaved, the band suffered some issues with the keyboards and bass guitar sometimes over-powering everything. That could have been down to the venue or where I was standing, but after moving from the front to the back of the venue, the problems were still there.

All being said though, the band delivered a suitably impressive set with the newer songs from Heritage onward in particular sounding much better in the live environment than they did on the albums. Add in Enslaved’s impressive set earlier and you had the makings of a truly enjoyable night out listening to some good progressive music.

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