Alice in Chains rock old and new tunes at ‘dise

A review of Alice in Chains at the Paradise Rock Club on September 7, 2009

, Editor-in-Chief

Legendary grunge rockers Alice in Chains are back and beginning to write a new chapter in their acclaimed yet troubled career. Led by guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, the band is gearing up for their first album with new frontman William DuVall. Building a buzz over the band’s first new material in 14 years, the band has embarked on a small club tour that stopped at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club on Monday night.

Heralded alongside Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soungarden, Alice in Chains helped usher in the Seattle-bred grunge rock movement. Over 15 years, the band released four full-length albums and three EPs. By the mid 90’s, however, the band toured little as frontman Layne Staley battled a heroin addiction that ultimately took his life in 2002.

Undoubtedly, this was one of the most in demand shows of the year. Scalpers were fetching hundreds of dollars for the $25 general admission tickets leading up the show. I’ve seen many of sold out shows at the ‘dise over the years, but never I have seen the Comm. Ave. venue more packed to the brim than it was on Monday night. The crowd overflowed into the hallway and up on the balcony, fans were packed up against the walls, some stood on the back benches while grabbing balance on the overhead pipes.

Of course, much of the talk about Alice in Chains these days is the band’s surviving members to continue on without Staley. Many bands before them have done the same, yet Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney will always have skeptics. When they first toured with DuVall in 2006, he proved to be a great fit. He could delivers Staley vocals without coming off as mimicking (though they do come damn close), and boasted his own brand of stage presence. After working together on the road and in the studio for the past few years, DuVall has clearly grown into the role as the band’s frontman and has been embraced not only by his bandmates but the band’s fanbase as well. It’s safe to say that any skeptics that may have been scattered around the ‘dise on Monday, left satisfied with the band’s new look and sound.
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Alice in Chains is gearing up for the release of their new album, Black Gives Way to Blue, which is scheduled to drop in stores at the end of the month. Monday’s performance showcased three new tunes: “Check My Brain” and “A Looking In View”, both of which have hit radio recently, and the more epic “Acid Bubble”, which starts as a slow burner and builds up to a driving force. The band was very happen to perform the well received new material and DuVall and Cantrell share great harmonies, just as he once did with Staley.

However, it was the old hits that the crowd came for. The band obliged with a scorching set that kicked off Rain When I Die off their 1992 gem, Dirt. “This one is for Layne”, Cantrell declared before launching into a stellar “Nutshell”. The second half of the set excelled with “Angry Chair”, and explosive rendition of “Man In The Box”, and a main set closing sing-along of “Would?”.

The encore was nearly cut short when Cantrell slipped off the stage. “That could have been really bad,” he said before cracking, “I hope I’m still in tune.” The answer was no but a few moments later that band was able to kick things back into high gear with “Sludge Factory.” “No Excuses” followed and a “Rooster” brought the night to a close with a sing-along that nearly blew the roof off.

Nothing will erase the memory of Staley but Alice in Chains are moving on and rocking another chapter in their great career. Monday’s show proved they have plenty left in the tank and a dedicated following to enjoy the new ride with. If you’re on the fence, I highly recommend that you take in their next live performance, which will probably be at bigger venue like the House of Blues.

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