Sunday, October 12, 2014

King Diamond @ Center Stage 10/11/14

Even though this was the King's only southeastern date, the fact he sold out Center Stage home of the annual Prog Powerfest says something about the staying power of his music. With no album to support aside from a greatest hits collection dropping November 11th called "Dreams of Horror". While waiting in a ridiculous merch line I missed the bulk of Jess and the Ancient Ones, though the more I heard from her on the videos behind the bar, the longer I procrastinated to go in. We went waded onto the floor, though were stuck at the edge due to the crowd, my girlfriend suggested trying to find seats, but having gone to metal shows for over 25 years, the secret is if you give a metal head the chance to get alcohol they will make a break for it proved true and this put us smack dab in the middle of the floor. The crowd was friendly I spoke to a dude from Wilmington SC, about Uriah Heap for a good ten minutes, and many of the other people I spoke to were also from out of town. There was an interesting mix of metal shirts on parade, death metal seemed to out number black metal, with the middle of the road classic metal shirts edging out death metal, aside from my girlfriend wearing my now sleeveless "Them" tour shirt I got the first time I saw King and the first time I met her , which was a couple decades apart, was the dude in the Lizzy Borden shirt, it seemed legit and not a online knock off which seemed to be the case with most of the 80's thrash shirts.

 When the King finally took the stage, they busted out with "The Candle" from Fatal Portrait. I had gone into the show worried about how his voice would have held up over the years. This was my fifth time seeing King Diamond, sixth if you count Merciful Fate reunion in the 90's, so with his recent health issues and his last Hellfest performance, where he pulled a Rob Halford and got the job done, but was obviously weak from just getting back on stage soon after healing from heart surgery. This is was the first show of the tour which with singer's can go either way, they are knocking the dust off the pipes and getting warmed up, or they are really fresh and then the rest of the tour trying to maintain.So I'm happy to report that he was much better than when I saw him at Hellfest . He did stack the bulk of the most scrutinized  songs at the front end of the set as he followed the opener with "Sleepless nIghts" and Welcome home, which is where the theatrics began as Grandma was rolled out in a wheel chair. The level of theatrics was more along the lines of an Alice Cooper show and when you are playing a mostly sold out tour, you  have the budget to pull out a bigger production.

 The drummer Matt Thompson, has been with King 2000, had to remind me he is worthy on the opening fill to "Welcome Home", he also pulled out some impressive double bass through out the "Them" songs, as the Mikkey Dee, albums are the most demanding. New comer Swede Pontus Egberg, had a lot to prove as the most recent addition to the band- the one member i had not seen King preform with yet. Here it was how he handled the "Abigail" songs that proved him self to me. He seemed to be having tons of fun on stage, even if his stage prescience was the most "80's" of the band. Mike Wead held his own against Andy Laroque, in fact i think he might have taken more solo's than Laroque, but Andy has been with King for so long he had to o.k that, so if that's what he wants. Andy was a little low in the mix at first by the chorus of "Sleepless Nights" he was dialed back in properly. The newer material got mixed response from the crowd, most seemed fine with "Never Ending Hill" off of "Give Me Your Soul Please". Since that album came out I have felt it was under rated, but Diamond is no exception to the rule of the masses wanting to hear the most familiar material. "Abigail" was shouted for but never came about. "Let it Be Done" was an unexpected song from "Conspiracy" so King threw in plenty for the fans and not just the casual listeners, the set was in fact pretty "Conspiracy" heavy and while "Puppet Master" is far from my favorite King Diamond album, the title track transitioned well live , complete with his dancer miming as if she was a marionette.

 He did pull out a weird medley with "tea" , "Digging Graves" and Visit from the dead", this was followed up by the two Merciful fate songs of the set "Evil" and "Come to the Sabbath". They got the biggest surge of crowd reaction. King nailed all the parts as needed. He did another Rob Halford and let the crowd sing some sections , but unlike Rob not til he already proved he could hit the notes. " Shapes in Black" also made a remarkable transition onto the stage. There was no one questioning that "Eye of the Witch" is one of King's best songs and it came across heavier live. The show came to it 's climax when they pulled out magic tricks involving burning Grandma alive. Then for the encore came the two songs from Abigail "Family Ghost and the Black Horsemen. Both were pulled off much better than expected which could be said for the bulk of the show.king has fully recovered and is killing it in a manner his peers like Dickinson and Halford should take note of.

This showed proved he is till the greatest metal singer of all time.If you are a regular reader here then either know a-King Diamond is one of my favorite artists of all time or B- that I am an even harsher critic when it comes to the bands I love, as they have already raised the bar pretty high for selves, so they have a lot to live up, but the fact they do more often than not is what makes them great. King delivered, make sure to catch him when he comes through your town. spoilers- set list and rehearsal vids below

 The Candle Sleepless Nights Welcome Home Never Ending Hill Let It Be Done The Puppet Master At the Graves Tea / Digging Graves / A Visit from the Dead Evil (Merciful Fate cover) Come to the Sabbath (Merciful Fate cover) Shapes of Black Eye of the Witch Cremation The Family Ghost Black Horsemen

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