Friday, October 31, 2014
King Diamond Concert Review
Hail the King...that is King Diamond of course. The lord of high pitched haunting sounding proportions and lyrical conceptual evil came to San Francisco with one main objective... and that was to give the crowd a show they would never forget.
Scheduled the night before Halloween, the perfect night for a King Diamond concert, I was really looking forward to this show. After being sold out for some months now, I was anticipating a large die hard classic metal loving crowd. I made sure to arrive early and get inside the venue as quick as possible. Of course walking through San Francisco is a horror movie in itself that I do not think King Diamond could even write up. Standing in front of the Warfield Theatre I gazed up at the massive glowing sign that read King Diamond. Already hanging around the venue were patch covered leather jacket and metal t-shirt wearing die hards. I even saw a decent number of people with King Diamond’s make-up on. Since King Diamond has not toured in a very long time, everyone in the crowd was extremely excited.
Once inside I went right away to the lower level general admission area in front of the stage to see the opener, and of course to establish a good viewing area for when the King would come out to do his set. On this tour King Diamond had Jess and the Ancient Ones as his opener. I liked how the King was taking a band around instead of just adding local acts to the bill. It gave Jess and the Ancient Ones a chance to perform their brand of psychedelic doom rock to various locations.
Jess and the Ancient Ones came out to a sound clip of an old horror film, something from the old Universal black and white years, my favorite. Jess, dressed in a black gown, reminded me of a mystic Wiccan priest. She always seemed as though she was in a trance. Vocally, she has an amazing voice that is both melodic and doomy. Her voice mesmerizes as she sings over the psychedelic compositions and instantly grabs your attention. The other guys in the band were all solid players, and the three guitar attack created a killer sound. Also, the organ player added so much to the band’s overall sound and ambiance. “Astral Sabbat,” was by far my favorite song during their set. The opening bass line is very vintage Sabbath like and sets up for a spooky grooving jam. I felt that some people in the crowd were hooked by the haunting cosmic sounding music while some stood looking dazed and confused. I think your typical speed metal dudes were not digging the music as much, but I personally thought Jess and the Ancient Ones were a great opener. Their dark psychedelic sounding musical atmospheres definitely fit with the night’s spooky and evil theme.
After Jess and the Ancient ones finished, the stage crew quickly began setting up for King Diamond. They lowered the curtains too so no one could see them setting up all the elaborate props. Trust me, it helped add to the mystery and eventual amazement of the King’s stage show. After each song from the house music ended the fans got all excited and started shouting, however, they had to wait a little bit. These fans were getting really rambunctious and the whole concert hall was buzzing. Finally, the lights dimmed and the curtains came up. I gazed upon the stage where there was an iron gate, double sided stair case, upside down glowing crosses, skulls on poles and an enormous gigantic pentagram. I nearly fell over from the sheer awesomeness! Then there standing on top of the star case structure was King Diamond. Right away the band began playing some classic King Diamond hits and the place nearly erupted when they played, “Welcome Home.” A person came out dressed as King’s evil Grandma from the “Them” album. As King sang he would humorously interact with the Grandma and his stage presence was brilliant. The theatrics mixed with the ripping heavy metal music was perfect. During the song, “Digging Graves,” King never missed a note while he used a shovel to pretend digging up a grave.
Now as a guitar player, seeing Andy LaRocque who is one of my favorite metal guitarists, was an unbelievable experience. He cranked out tons of glorious guitar shredding solos. The other guitarist Mike Weed was also an exceptional player and tore through multiple scales to create a face melting sounding. Drummer Matt Thompson and bassist Pontus Egberg provided a solid rhythm section and both added their own passionate energy to the show. Pontus was really rocking out and seemed to be running all around the stage. King too was really enjoying himself and would even use his upside down cross microphone to air guitar. When the band played Mercyful Fate’s, “Come to the Sabbath,” all the old die hard metal fans went crazy. I just could not believe how after each song the band never slowed down. King Diamond sounded great the whole night. After all his medical issues in the past he is such a trooper for still working at keeping his voice in great shape. Towards the end of the show, hearing songs like “Halloween,” “Family Ghost” and “Eye of the Witch,” was a great way to finish the night. Each time the band finished I thought they were done, but the crowd kept yelling for more. The energy from the crowd seemed to keep the musicians on stage and King Diamond graciously played a couple more songs to finish off the night.
When the show was all over, I think both the musicians and the fans were truly grateful for each other. For a show that you could say was shrouded in darkness and haunting imagery, the overall vibe was pretty positive. I would have to say that was one of the best and most memorable performances I have seen in my life. The whole presentation was professional and the musicianship was just as impressive. King Diamond is one of metal’s greatest theatrical performers and he knows how to put on a fantastic show. I really hope he releases some new music soon, because a world with new King Diamond music, makes for more a better world...Hail to the King, that is King Diamond!!!!(epic scream when saying his name of course)