Opeth @ The Wiltern

Ken-ny! Ken-ny! Ken-ny!

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Opeth at the Wiltern was a good time. (See my dilemma about attending here.) It wasn’t an experience that I’d repeat again, but it was entertaining.

The band played two sets. The first was Blackwater Park in its entirety, with no pause even for stage banter. Musically, this did not interest me much. However, the band’s playing was technically astounding. The rhythm section was full of groove and warmth. A strong sound mix helped. Mikael Åkerfeldt hit all his vocal notes, which may be a first for any show I’ve attended.

The second set was selections from each of Opeth’s albums. These songs were heavier and kept my attention more. The crowd was rapturously in love with the band. While cloying, Åkerfeldt’s stage banter was mostly funny. The venue, an old theater, was beautiful, and the atmosphere was positive. I didn’t mind being there.

My night propelled into the transcendent, however, when I saw Kenny G in the crowd. Evidently his son is a metalhead. (See this sighting of Kenny G at a Cynic show, and this photo of him and his son with half of Megadeth.) Upon seeing Kenny G walk by and hang out near the moshpit (who moshes to Opeth???), I blew a few mental fuses. Just seeing him made me feel like I was in an airport at 3am, feeling his sax stylings caress lacerate my soul. I fervently hoped that Kenny G would join Opeth onstage. Alas, it was not to be.

My friend Robert brought his nephew to the show. His nephew, a high school junior, had no idea who Kenny G was. He spent the whole night wondering why I was freaking out about a guy with curly hair.

In case you don’t know who Kenny G is, he is the king of adult contemporary/easy listening/smooth/lite/whatever you want to call it “jazz”. According to Wikipedia, he is the best-selling instrumental musician alive, having sold over 75 million albums. You can experience his magic below in the video for “Sentimental”, from 1992’s Breathless, the best-selling instrumental album of all time.

— Cosmo Lee

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