A maniacal horde of music hungry metal fans descended on The Orpheum Theater last night. Alice In Chains were the main course; brought forth to satiate that hunger. Armed with a new lead singer, William DuVall, they played a fierce and sensational show. The lighting was psychedelic yet cutting edge; matching up with their set list perfectly. Overall they brought an outstanding show to Vancouver. Bringing a feeling of rebirth to their almost sacred legacy.
Arriving at the venue it was clear this was going to be an intense evening. The lineups going into the show were long; with the lineups for the bar being even longer. As you would think this was mostly a male crowd, but the few females you saw were die hard Alice In Chains fans. This was no drag-your-girlfriend-along kind of night. Merchandise was expensive and covered the bases of every metal show. Black t-shirts featuring the bands name, with some sort of demon or skull design on the front, and a tour overview on the back; that is all. The crowd poured through the doors into the seating area. The slanted orchestra area, was a haze of thick smoke from the opening act. Slowly the house filled as fanatical metal/grunge lovers arrived.
Looking through out the seats it was clear this was no average nights show. Vancouver was the first stop on the tour, and some of the local celebrities were out to partake. Across the way there was a sports announcer, and a local news anchor. Sitting in the seats directly behind me were Jeff O’Neil and Captain Scotty of 99.3 the Fox’s morning show. It was ramping up to be a special evening.
The stage was shrouded in a giant curtain. Minutes before the lights went down a giant human heart, the same one from the album, was projected on to it. Cheering burst forth from the attendees. The lights dropped, and darkness swallowed the venue. The silhouettes of William DuVall and Jerry Cantrell, were cast up on the curtain by powerful back lighting. Like a thunderous herd the fans leapt from their seats and filled the venue with their enamored screams.
From the moment of the first note, DuVall’s voice was immaculate. The throaty tones emitting from his soul permeated the vicinity. No longer would he be the “new guy” filling in, he was now the leader of this pack. With confidence of a seasoned pro he strutted the stage and swooned the audience. The clambering hands of the ones at his feet; were met with hand shakes and pleasant smiles. William truly has found his residence in this band, and completed the circle of what they stand for, once again.
Jerry Cantrell was outstanding, looking almost 15 years younger from his last appearance in Vancouver. With a healthy new glow and and eagerness to get back on the horse, he shined last night. This tour signifies their return, another attempt to climb back up to their thrown. Cantrell brought it all; working the stage, working the strings and working the crowd. The effortlessness he has when manipulating his guitar is amazing. He skillfully works every chord and sings every string to his very whim. This night was no different, he masterfully displayed his skills; spicing up each solo with a little more edge and attitude. Most notable of the performance though was the obvious display of good humor; he was enjoying every second on stage. It doesn’t take long for that kind of happiness and excitement to filter to the crowd; which it did within second of the first song.
Mike Inez and Sean Kinney were excited and having a great time as well. Mike ran around on the stage whipping his black locks around, and smiling from ear to ear. Sean too was all smiles and grins, as he pounded his heart away on those skins. Working every second of the show, feeding the attendees with the beat they have grown to love.
The stage lighting played an integral role in the mood of the show. During the chorus of faster paced songs, the lights spun and darted around, making your heart race. While slower songs had the lights swaying lightly like a warm breeze. Vintage images from doctor reference books scrolled across the giant hanging screens. Special lights with dual color effects, made the beams look like flames. They flickered on and off, like the pulsing flame of a fighter jet.
To summarize the evening I was impressed with the entire presentation. From the singing to the instruments to the stage crew; it was all well planned and executed. Jerry and crew have a long life ahead of them. If they are able to carry this energy across the rest of the tour they will have accomplished rising this phoenix from the ashes. Regardless if this was going to be a good show or not, the simple fact that it was Alice In Chains is why it was sold out. They were able to rest on that legacy. After the show last night though, they can depend on their ability again. Rest assured Alice In Chains was nothing but musically stunning. The rooster has come home to roost.