Live Preview: Opeth

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Mikael Åkerfeldt on the Swedish prog group’s 25th-anniversary celebrations, which include an unlikely show at the London Palladium.

Opeth recently appeared at Bloodstock, a festival that probably seems better suited to the band’s older, heavier identity. How did it go?

We just do the show and have a beer, but it was good. One day we can play at a death metal festival, the next day we can share a stage with the Pet Shop Boys. We’re flexible.

This is the band’s twenty-fifth anniversary year. That’s something you wouldn’t have expected to hear back in 1990.

Definitely not. It’s a bit crazy. But I probably wouldn’t have realised had our manager not pointed it out. And, of course, the business opportunities [laughs].

Twenty-five years is a long time. To what do you attribute Opeth’s staying power?

Maybe it’s because we never really had a big record to live up to. There have been less and more popular records. But it’s been a slow rise. I don’t think we ever sold out, though it’s an accusation that’s often thrown at us.

You’re playing a one-off gig at the London Palladium – hardly a venue associated with bullet belts and noisy rock music.

No. I wanted to go back to the Royal Albert Hall but it was booked when we needed it. Our manager suggested the Palladium. And from the photos, it looks beautiful.

Opeth were the first band to use the C-word on stage at the Albert Hall. Have you prepared any new profanities for the Palladium?

I’m sure another rude word will come to mind, and I’ll yell it out with no relevance to anything.

You’re also playing a show in Bulgaria accompanied by the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. That must make you proud?

It’s exciting, but I’m more nervous than anything else. I haven’t been in touch with the conductor who’s putting together the string arrangements. It could be a mess.

The 25th-anniversary celebrations also include a coffee-table book.

It looks really good. If I was a fan, I would think it was a really cool thing.

SWEDE TALKING

– Mikael Åkerfeldt joined Opeth, ostensibly as their bassist, in 1990.

– Opeth have recorded 11 studio albums.

– Along with Steven Wilson, Åkerfeldt is also a member of the band Storm Corrosion.

Classic Rock 216: News & Regulars

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