02 Academy – 14/11

Warming up the stage for grunge gods Alice in Chains tonight is Walking Papers from Seattle (surprise, surprise!). The crowd is small for the O2 Academy as the band walk on to dramatic organ music that sounds a bit like if Harry Potter had been set in the wild west.With powerful, grungy rock and roll riffs, face-melting solos and a middle aged Duff McKagan (yes, the actual real Duff McKagan – who, may I say, has aged very nicely) on bass, Walking Papers certainly know how to put on a good performance. The set’s main crowd pleaser was definitely the catchy and toe-tappy ‘Romantics’, with a lot of the crowd proudly singing along.

Ghost’s set can only be described as very, very strange. The Swedish doom metallers comprise of the Nameless Ghouls’, who look like Nazgul playing instruments and lead vocalist, Papa Emeritus II, dressed as a dead Roman Catholic cardinal. Ghost’s sound is generally very heavy and dark, with the exception of one song, ‘Body and Blood’, that in places sounds like a bad eighties pop ballad. Their set is clearly founded on the stage show, and for them it seems to be less about the music and more about the performance. Too many flashy lights, too many drum solos and Papa Emeritus II spending most of the set walking around and randomly gesturing to things on the stage made for underwhelming build-up to Alice in Chains impressive live set.

The Seattle rockers’ familiar heavy riffs and flawless harmonies make them an old favourite with all fans of 80’s metal but despite losing their original singer Layne Stayley to a drug overdose in 2002, Alice in Chains current vocalist William DuVall has been widely accepted by the fans. He has a very distinctive voice that brings something new to the band, whilst still fitting in well with the rest of the band’s inimitable sound. Their performance tonight is well rehearsed, whilst still retaining the energy and oomph that has always made their live performances incredible. The crowd sings along to old favourites such as ‘Rooster’ and ‘Check My Brain’, as well as new songs ‘Hollow’ and ‘Voices’ from 2012’s King Animal. If you like your metal rich and grungy definitely check out Alice in Chains

[Katy Simmons]

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