Category Archives: Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains @ The Warfield, San Francisco CA 11/26/06

Holy crap, this was without a doubt THEE AIC gig to go to. Not only did they extend the set by a couple songs but the almighty James Hetfield was invited to play on “Would?” and provide backing vocals, along with the patented Hetfield “yaaaaahhhh!”The place went apeshit. It was beyond awesome. The show itself was flawless. I’m amazed that the tickets were so affordable. It was a bitch making the 3.5 hour drive, but well worth it. Jerry looked like a scrawny version of Zakk Wylde onstage, Les Paul near his knees, long scraggly blonde hair and a thick beard. His playing was impeccable. Mike played his ass off and moved around the stage as if possessed. Sean played ferociously yet elegantly. Damn those DWs sound awesome, especially his snare. And I think he’s still using Sabians hehehe. Very tight drumming with that Sean Kinney finesse.

If there were any doubters of William DuVall, I think they were sold on “Rain When I Die.” ‘I think its gonna raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain’ Damn can he soar, as did most of the crowd on that one. The mix and acoustics were better than average, but I found it very difficult to discern what the hell William and Jerry were singing. I guess something always has to suffer in a live situation. The “Living Room” set was very cool, an intimate transformation into an acoustic set reminiscent of the MTV Unplugged video, with the icing on the cake being “Down in a Hole” which has been played sporadically during the tour. Very special indeed. Guys, it was otherworldly to hear William sing on that tune. Ok, so luckily William is not trying to sound like a Layne Staley copycat. William has his own thing going on: gritty and throaty, and very rock n’ roll. But during the chorus of “Down In a Hole” it was as if something supernatural had occurred, vocally. At the end of the “but my wings have been sooooo deniiiiiiiiied” section, William was able to pull off that ghostly, tortured sounding Layne Staley vibrato, and he held the ‘denied’ part and transported me somewhere. The hairs on my body stood on end, and the crowd went freakin’ crazy! They must have felt it too, and their eyes must have bugged out of theirs sockets as well. It was one magic moment out of an entire set when I thought I heard Staley’s voice come alive. I took my girlie along for this one (as I swore I’d never drag her along to another metal/prog show again – since this isn’t exactly her kind of music) but I guess I’ll never learn. Very memorable gig. Let’s thank the metal Gods for the resurrection of AIC.

Again
Bleed the Freak
Grind
Ain’t Like That
Junkhead
Nutshell
Them Bones
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
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Layne Tribute Video
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The “Living Room” Acoustic Set
Don’t Follow
Brother
No Excuses
Killer Is Me
Got Me Wrong
Down in a Hole
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Sludge Factory
Angry Chair
We Die Young
Man In the Box
ENCORE
Would? w/ James Hetfield on guitar & guest vox \m/\m/
Rooster

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A shot of James Hetfield’s car parked outside of the Warfield

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Alice In Chains @ The Avalon, Hollywood CA 09/30/09

This gig’s in my top 3 of all time. This was my second time seeing Alice, the first was November 2006 (which was also a sick concert by the way). This more recent show was a general admission gig at the Avalon in Hollywood and it was packed! I spotted a celebrity in the audience: At stage right, up in the VIP section, Eddie Van Halen could be seen waving at Jerry, grinning from ear to ear. He sported a short haircut and looked like he was having a great time. Luckily I got to the venue early and was able to quickly grab a front row spot between Mike Inez and William Duvall. WOW…did these guys play their butts off.

The crowd was energetic, supportive, and respectful when they needed to be (especially for a delicate version of “Black Gives Way To Blue”), save for a few drunken jerk faces that pushed their way up front or chucked various shit onstage. The band was tight, consistent, and locked into the grooves and emotions of the songs. And even though AIC play very serious music, the band’s sense of humor shined with frequent light-hearted stage banter from William, Mike and Jerry. At one point during the show, Jerry made it a point to publicly thank the road crew for their hard work and dedication. It was a very sweet and genuine shout out to their roadies. Then Mike Inez piped in and said “Now back to work, fuck-offs!” lol.

The sound was excellent. Jerry and William sounded a little sharp at times, but the sound mix was super clear and even. I could feel the rumble of Mike’s bass with a nice amount of midrange. That opening bass line to “Rain When I Die” was met with a very cool, deafening roar of recognition from the crowd – fists were raised, and the LA crowd braced itself for a brutal yet beautiful set. Mike stuck to his stage position, cigarette in his lips, head cocked back and eyes upward as he played his parts without looking at the fretboard. Sean played the drum parts effortlessly, with an elegance not usually found in hard rock drummers. He does great hi-hat work, making his sticks dance off of the hats with intricate 8th and 16th note patterns. Jerry laid down his parts with precision as always. Jerry is very interactive with the crowd, in your face, and pulls you into the live experience. He made eye contact with the crowd on several occasions, and he was all smiles, clearly enjoying the show. He and the rest of the band easily powered through the odd metered “Them Bones,” which plowed right into “Dam That River” without skipping a beat, causing our entire section to joyously headbang. About William Duvall, he’s more than adequate on rhythm guitar. He added additional crunch and color to Jerry’s lead parts. Vocally, I think all the naysayers and detractors were silenced when William poured every ounce of his being into “Love Hate Love.” The execution was phenomenal and dare I say otherworldly. Jaws dropped as William erupted with flawless, hypnotic vocals that left me stunned. The man breathed fire that night. Think of Robert Plant (Zeppelin) belting out “Since I’ve Been Loving You” in his prime. That was the same chill I got when hearing William on “Love Hate Love.” The new material was very well received, much of the crowd was already familiar with most of the new songs. Highlights for me included “A Looking In View,” “Your Decision” and the title track.

AIC played a bone crushing set. Many songs from Dirt and the back catalogue were represented. It was unreal hearing cuts like “God Am,” “Again,” “Angry Chair,” “Nutshell” and of course, “Rooster.” The new tracks fit in so well, especially the slower numbers. It’s still AIC, regardless of the lead singer. Although well known for their metallic edge, AIC is also well known for their melodic acoustic numbers. Notable absences from the set were radio hits like “Heaven Beside You” and “Over Now” which were played during the 2006 tour but I didn’t really miss them. However, what I did miss was the timeless “Down in a Hole.” The following pics were taken with my crappy cell phone at the time. Very, very awesome show. Won’t forget this one anytime soon.

Main Set
1. Rain When I Die
2. Again
3. Check My Brain
4. Them Bones
5. Dam That River
6. A Looking In View
7. We Die Young
8. Nutshell – if this song doesn’t make you feel something, then you truly have no heart
9. Love Hate Love
10. Black Gives Way To Blue – acoustic with William playing the piano parts on guitar
11. Your Decision – acoustic
12. No Excuses – acoustic
13. God Am
14. Acid Bubble
15. Angry Chair
16. Man In a Box

Encores
17. Sludge Factory
18. Would?
19. Rooster