It must be the year for regressing to an angry teenager… So far this year I have seen many bands from my more carefree years; Faith No More, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Staind and Massive Attack but last night was the crowning glory! After the death of Layne Staley and, thereafter, the band’s indefinite hiatus I never thought I would see Alice in Chains live.
So, imagine my delight as I read that Alice in Chains had recruited and new singer and were recording a new album and with that possibly touring! Then that day came, I saw they were touring, no Nottingham date but Birmingham would do! With one thing and another, the ticket was never purchased. I thought I had missed my chance but it was a blessing in disguise as no sooner had I given up hope of seeing one of the seminal bands of my youth, they announced a few extra dates – Rock City was among them! I wasted no time this time and bought tickets there and then…
Two months later it was time for the show… I was so excited, I couldn’t wait! Even the woeful support couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. After 35 minutes of me trying my hardest not to chew my own ears off the stage was cleared, the anticipation was growing as was the crowd. The show had long been sold out and Rock City was packed to the rafters as the lights finally dimmed and Jerry Cantrell, Mike Inez, Sean Kinney and William DuVall entered the stage.
They began with a medley of old classics including “Again”, “Them Bones” and “Damn That River” with the crowd singing so loudly they could be heard over the PA system! The shivers ran down my spine and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as they began to play, it was nostalgic and emotional to say the least hearing those songs again but this time live in front of me… Songs from the latest album followed with DuVall joining Cantrell on guitar, “Your Decision”, “Check My Brain” and “A Looking in View” interspersed with “No Excuses”.
The show then took an acoustic feel, complete with stools and cigarettes! “Down In A Hole!”, “Heaven Beside You”, “Got Me Wrong” and “Black Gives Way To Blue” which Cantrell tribute to Staley. With the acoustic guitars put away the set continued with more old favourites and new songs mixed together, “God Am”, “Acid Bubble”, “Angry Chair” and “Man in a Box” with “Lesson Learned” rounding off the main set. Alice in Chains returned for the encore with “Would?” and the epic “Rooster” again the crowd were louder than the PA and Cantrell to out an earpiece to listen to the crowd with a huge grin on his face…
William DuVall had huge shoes to fill but he successfully picked up the mantle left from Staley’s death. DuVall’s presence, voice and guitar playing made him seem as though he had been in the band from the beginning without diminishing the legacy of Layne Staley.
It was a show that had taken 15 years for me to get to and I loved every minute of it. It will stay with me for a long time and is right up there with the best shows I have ever seen, if not the best!