Saturday, October 2, 2010

Concert Review: Alice in Chains, Deftones and Mastodon Bring Their A-game to Scottrade Center on the BlackDiamondSkye Tour

Posted By on Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 9:02 AM

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Chino Moreno performing at the Scottrade Center. Click here for more pictures from the BlackDiamondSkye tour. - TODD OWYOUNG
  • Todd Owyoung
  • Chino Moreno performing at the Scottrade Center. Click here for more pictures from the BlackDiamondSkye tour.

The setlist's balance was pretty much perfect for the casual Deftones fan. Just about every one of their radio hits was covered, yet the group still found time for the best moments from Diamond Eyes. Moreno was in fine form, leading the group with energetic running and jumping and looking awfully happy for a man who writes such angst-ridden lyrics. Perhaps he was excited that he could pull off detached, spacey singing as well as he could tackle cathartic shrieking. Or maybe it was because guitarist Stephen Carpenter's detuned, distorted tones and drummer Abe Cunningham's cutting high-pitch snare and his aggressive attack still pack a wallop. Whatever it was, Moreno was in good spirits and it was infectious.

Although all of their songs came out well, a few were noteworthy for their change in style. The group brought out a disco-ball for the slow jam "Sextape," which served as a welcome change of pace in the set. "You've Seen the Butcher" likewise broke from the norm with its swing feel. Still, the big hits went over best. "Change (In The House Of Flies)" and show-closer "7 words" got the biggest response in an overall solid set.

Alice In Chains prepares to take the stage at the Scottrade Center. Click here for more pictures from the BlackDiamondSkye tour. - TODD OWYOUNG
  • Todd Owyoung
  • Alice In Chains prepares to take the stage at the Scottrade Center. Click here for more pictures from the BlackDiamondSkye tour.

Alice in Chains entered the stage with a bizarre introduction involving a grey heart beating over the BlackDiamondSkye Zelda Tri-Force logo that was projected onto the curtain concealing the group. Any sense of puzzlement was erased as the curtain dropped to the strain of "Them Bones." Singer William DuVall made an immediate impression by strutting, pointing and in general being a charismatic frontman and also by his voice's uncanny resemblance to deceased former AIC singer Layne Staley. It's really about as close a match as you can get. Needless to say, this helped Alice's signature harmonies retain all their otherworldy power (save perhaps for the first few songs where Cantrell's vocals were too low). Alice stayed in hard rock mode for its first five songs, transitioning neatly from "Them Bones" into "Dam that River" and continuing its sludgy metal-meets-classic rock attack. Guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell fired off several squelching solos to the delight of the crowd, and Alice in general sounded tight and powerful. The band lightened up for the one-two acoustic punch of "Your Decision" and "No Excuses," illustrating their skill at writing ballads and more pop-oriented material.

No matter which mode AIC was in, the group was always mobile. It was somewhat comical seeing a four-piece band have a stage armed with five mics so that they were always within reach of one when roaming with their wireless instruments, but it helped DuVall motion to and engage every part of the crowd. Bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney mostly stayed in the background, always supplying a steady rhythm and letting the guitar solos and harmonies take center stage. Kinney did get to shine on the involved beat of "No Excuses," however.

Throughout the night, Alice mixed songs from last year's comeback album Black Gives Way to Blue with old material to mixed effect. The newer songs are cohesive with the rest of the band's catalog, and none of them are bathroom-break worthy (single "Check My Brain" received a pretty good response), but it was obvious which songs the crowd came to see. This was most evident during a stretch of Black songs bunched together toward the end of the night that included the good but overlong "A Looking In View" in which the audience seemed attentive but less enthused than before. All was forgiven though with last song "Rooster," in which the crowd sang nearly as loudly as DuVall and the band did justice to the song's epic scope.

The strong finish carried over to the encore, as a solid "Angry Chair" segued into the can't-miss grunge classic "Man In The Box" that had the crowd going nuts. "Would?" closed things out nicely, its stirring coda bringing an air of finality to a quality night of hard rock.

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