King Diamond – BOA Friday August 9, 2013 – Ronnie James Dio Stage

The undisputed king of horror metal returning to the UK with his full production show was for many the most eagerly anticipated booking of Bloodstock 2013. This had been evidenced during the day by the number of King Diamond lookalikes on site who had raided their granny’s make-up bag while she was upstairs making tea. Expectations are high for the man’s first live outing in the UK since undergoing triple-bypass surgery in 2010.

From the outset those fans are greeted by a visual and musical spectacular. A stage set decked out like the mansion of a Satanist from the pages of Dennis Wheatley is barricaded by wrought-iron cemetery gates across the front of the stage, the band enclosed within – it’s metal’s answer to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The eerie intro to ‘The Candle’ from 1986’s debut solo outing “Fatal Portrait” provides the walk-on atmosphere and from King’s opening notes it’s clear that he is in good health and fine voice. As he regally descends the staircase from the faux balcony above drummer Matt Thompson, that anticipation has paid off and the excitement levels are ratcheted up a notch or three.

Imprisoned behind the gates, he stalks the stage clutching his trademark bone-crucifix microphone while a huge red inverted pentagram burns like the eye of Sauron. The gates which formed a barrier between band and audience roll apart to huge cheers. King Diamond casts an iconic figure and this is pure theatre but of course the important thing is the music and we are treated to a career retrospective spanning three decades. Classics ‘Welcome Home’ (featuring an appearance by the infamous Grandmaaaaa), ‘Sleepless Nights’ and ‘Voodoo’ are highlights in a set which contains zero filler. We are witnessing a truly great show and part of King Diamond’s triumphant return to the live arena after a six-year hiatus.

The sound is perfect throughout. Long-time cohort Andy La Rocque’s dextrous yet always musical lead guitar cuts through the mix like a blood-stained knife. His harmonic interplay forms an unholy trinity with Mike Wead on second guitar and with King’s unique and distinctive voice. ‘Come to the Sabbath’ and ‘Evil’ represent the Mercyful Fate era but the reception which greets the singalong ‘Eye of the Witch’ and ‘The Family Ghost’ illustrates how consistent this man’s music has been, right up to ‘Shapes Of Black’ from the most recent studio album.

A final encore of ‘Black Horsemen’ rounds off what many will consider to be the best performance of this year’s festival. With a promise from King himself of a return to the UK and with a new three-album deal on the table we are blessed to have King Diamond back and on such great form.

King Diamond – Official Website 

Bloodstock Open Air – Official Website

Photos taken by the excellent Sabrina Ramdoyal for ThisIsNotAScene.