Sound — 7
Choosing the god-damn-Royal-Albert-Hall to film a DVD in is a wise move. The sound will be excellent and the fanboys will reflect on how Opeth's music totally deserves to be aired in the same auditorium as that of the loftiest classical works. Besides, it might just be illegal for an Opeth DVD to be filmed outside of Greater London. The Royal Albert Hall is a stunning room, deceptively large, and truly the only detail detracting from its beauty that night was...the stage. Not to worry, the focal point of the film is the music and if some of the venue's grandeur is lost in translation then so be it.
The most attractive things about this DVD are, of course, the setlists: one satisfyingly balanced retrospective, and one full album performance, both to mark the band's 20th anniversary. There are cases to be made for Still Life' and My Arms, Your Hearse', but it was only ever going to be Blackwater Park' that they'd play in full, and it happens to come together very nicely in a live setting. There are very few disruptions; among them are an obtrusive ride cymbal on Patterns In The Ivy', some patchy screams and numerous exclamations from the crowd. (Over the years, many a punter has yelled a song name or hilarious remark at Opeth, and it seems each and every one of them decided to descend upon the Hall for this. Unconvinced by airings of ever-requested songs, their incessant bellows disrupted the sanctity of the room far more than any amount of death metal could)
Content — 8
It's quite a package, this. Along with the almost three-hour concert, there's an almost three-hour audio version, helpful for people who want to listen to the music without having to look at Per Wiberg's moustache a tour documentary and an interview with Mikael kerfeldt. The documentary is barely worth watching but the interview is insightful, entertaining and very well made.
As performance goes, this isn't the most exhilarating stuff we've had from Opeth, so it's not the oft-heard songs (The Drapery Falls', The Lotus Eater') that stand out but the more elusive pieces from their back catalogue. As was the case with the last film, The Roundhouse Tapes', it's the Orchid' and Morningrise' material that's given the best treatment. Forest Of October' and Advent' have been squeezed through fifteen years of technological evolution and several lineup changes, but the dreamy mystique remains not necessarily intact, but as effective as ever.
The issue with the Blackwater Park' set is that a good two thirds of the album has been seen on DVD before, so some of the better tracks do not have quite the same impact. On the plus side, this puts a spotlight on the crushing Dirge For November' and a very 70s rendition of Harvest', complete with organ and chorus-drenched psychedelia.
Production Quality — 8
Filmed by thirteen HD cameras from the ever-reliable Dash Productions, the presentation is classy as you'd expect after major label backing. Technical hitches (guitars cutting out) during the second set were admirably displayed on the DVD but the Lotus Eater incident' was abridged on the CD to avoid further awkwardness.
Overall Impression — 7
In Live Concert...' is a fairly expensive box, adorned with...lovely typography and packed with good tunes. Is it perfect? Well, no the magic is sometimes missing, as is the guitar signal but it's worth the price, particularly if you were lucky enough to attend one of the Evolution XX' shows. It seems like Opeth might be filming a DVD for each new record now, but it seems unlikely that they'll ever make one with as grand a scenario, setlist or setting as this.