Jerry Cantrell – Alice in Chains
Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Dave Burke (Photographer/Live Gig reporter)
Rising to international prominence with the “grunge” movement in the early 1990’s Seattle’s Alice In Chains’ dark and introspective music pulls more from heavy metal then the angst ridden punk of many of their contemporaries. Their signature sound revolving around guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s sludgy guitar riffs and the lush vocal harmonies of Cantrell and late vocalist Layne Staley.
After their initial rise to fame the band saw long periods of inactivity due to Staely’s on going drug abuse which would ultimately lead to his untimely passing in April of of 2002.
Since their reformation in 2006 with new vocalist William DuVall, Cantrell, founding drummer Sean Kinney and long time bassist Mike Inez have released two critically and commercially well received albums, “Black Gives Way To Blue” (2009) and “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” (2013) and are said to be working on a new album that should see release in late 2015 or early 2016.
With no new material to promote the band is currently on a short summer tour that on August 4th made a stop at The Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee WI.
With an advertised 8pm start time and no opening act scheduled the band took the stage promptly at 9pm. I can only assume that the later than advertised start was at the venues request, trying to cash in on an extra hour of beer sales.
The roughly two hour set heavily favored the 90’s classics, but the several post Staley era songs that were played fit seamlessly with the earlier material, DuVall’s powerful voice meshing effortlessly with Cantrell’s just as Staley’s had. The visual presentation was rather subdued with the band being mostly back lit with intense reds and very little front of house lighting on the band members themselves, particularly early on. While not being what I’d call high energy performers, the band really delivered sonically, sounding even better than the record with huge guitar riffs and even bigger vocals.
Particular stand outs were their break through hit “Man In The Box” from their 1990 debut “Facelift”, “Rooster” from 1992’s “Dirt” as well as a partial cover of The Rolling Stones deep cut “Dead Flowers” and a mid set jam of Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever and the Judas Priest classic “ Living After Midnight”. In addition to the classic rock covers the band gave a lucky 13 year old fan in the front row a big surprise by singing him a rousing version of happy birthday and handing him a few guitar picks.
There are a few dates left on this summer tour with presumably more to come next year when as of yet untitled album is released. Find out more at www.aliceinchains.com