Alice in Chains brought a perfect blend of old and newer hits to a near capacity crowd at the Landmark Theater in Syracuse, NY on Monday April 30. The band brought along support act the Walking Papers.
Walking Papers, a rock band, from Seattle Washington, kicked off the show with an interesting mix of blues-rock. The six piece band produced some seriously easy on the ears sounds. The band, formed in 2012, has already gone through some interesting transitions. The band was formed by lead singer Jeff Angell and drummer Barrett Martin (formerly of the Screaming Trees). Guns N Roses bassist Duff McKagan was added later but will not be touring with the band this go around. Their self-titled debut album featured contributions from Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. As you can see, the band has a lofty talent pool. Their live performance was a testament to their skills. Front man Jeff Angell is very charming and charismatic. His crooning and stage antics are liken to early Bob Dylan with a Leonard Cohen appeal, right down to the fedora. Walking Papers did a great job getting the crowd warmed up and it peeked my interest to learn more about them.
Alice in Chains, despite the passing of lead singer Layne Staley in 2002, has been forging ahead with William Duvall as their full-time lead singer and has been touring since 2006. The new line-up has since released Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009 and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here in 2013. Alice in Chains is beginning work on their next studio album with a TBD 2018 release date. Guitarist and co-vocalist, Jerry Cantrell, commented on the upcoming release in an interview with Guitar World, “There’s some really heavy shit, some really ugly stuff, some real beautiful stuff, some weird trippy shit…it’s good.” This is my fourth time seeing Alice in Chains with DuVall and if you haven’t seen them yet, you are missing out.
Alice in Chains opened with “Bleed the Freak,” followed by “Check My Brain” and “Again.” William DuVall and Jerry Cantrell flawlessly traded off vocals reinforcing that authentic Alice in Chains sound. The band continued with more hits, “Them Bones,” “Hollow,” and “Down in a Hole.” The crowd was actively engaged from the time the very first note hit the air and joined in singing each song loudly.
Bass player Mike Inez was on point as usual and made his job look easy walking back and forth on the stage engaging fans. Cantrell worked to engage the audience as well by joking around throughout the evening and pointing to the fans in the balcony. Duvall took the time to thank fans who were by engaged by smiling, pointing and flipping a guitar pick to them between songs. At one point Duvall paused to make a joke about the band being old and told fans they were going to play some old stuff as they went into “No Excuses.”
Sean Kinney is one of my personal favorite drummers. He does an incredible job of maintaining the backbeat for the band and makes it look so easy. It didn’t even look like he broke a sweat. Kinney despite being an amazing drummer clearly has a sense of humor and finds creative ways to interact with the fans from behind his drum kit.
The evening continued with “We Die Young,” “Man in the Box” and “It Ain’t Like That” before the band took a short break. The encore included some of my favorites with a powerful version of “Got Me Wrong,” “Would?” and the haunting, melodic “Rooster.” Alice in Chains bid the crowd goodnight; Cantrell, DuVall and Inez tossed out buckets of guitar picks before leaving the stage. Alice in Chains created a memorable night of music from Cantrell’s haunting guitar riffs to DuVall’s perfectly sung harmonies, Inez’s energy and smile intermingled with Kinney’s constant backbeat; these guys know how to get it done.
Set list: Bleed the Freak, Check My Brain, Again, Them Bones, Dam That River, Hollow, Last of My Kind, Voices, Down in a Hole, No Excuses, Stone, We Die Young, Nutshell, Heaven Beside You, Man in the Box, It Ain’t Like That
Encore: Got Me Wrong, Would?, Rooster