When I was leaving the Alice in Chains concert at the South Okanagan Events Centre, I passed two guys talking and one of them said, “I’ve been waiting 24 years for this.”
I may not have waited quite as long as him but I walked out of the Aug. 8 show feeling like I was treated to a high-energy performance that delivered all of the band’s hits, including Them Bones, Man in the Box, Down in a Hole and No Excuses.
The alternative rock band, with its moody and brooding sound and depressing and ominous lyrics, came to fame in the early 1990s, as part of the grunge movement, along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
The band features Will Du Vall, guitarist Jerry Cantrell (who co-founded the band along with former lead singer, Layne Staley, who died in 2002), bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney.
There’s no disputing that Staley’s raspy, haunting and anger-tinged vocals are one of a kind but I certainly didn’t feel cheated out of seeing the band with lead vocalist Du Vall, who struck me as a combination of Lenny Kravitz and Slash.
Du Vall joined the band in 2005 and the band released its fourth studio album, Black Gives Way to Blue in 2009. The band’s fifth and most recent album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, was released in May of 2013.
He interacted with the crowd and motioned to people to get charged up many times during the show. Cantrell’s guitar playing was smooth, almost effortless.
Although it wasn’t a packed house (I’m estimating a crowd somewhere around a couple thousand, give or take), the few hundred who were on the floor were fist-pumping in time with the beat and having a great time. At one point, I noticed the start of a mosh pit and soon after, a guy was crowd-surfing, although it didn’t take long for security to yank him away and escort him outside the fenced off area. He did return and made his way back into the mix, however.
When they played No Excuses, a raucous cheer erupted from the crowd which rose to its feet for the first time.
I was surprised by the age range although the floor area was littered with those much younger than those in the rear portion of the bowl.
After leaving the stage, they made the crowd cheer and whistle for five minutes before returning for an encore performance,which treated fans to arguably their two biggest hits, Would? before closing out the night with Rooster.
Seconds before this, Du Vall expressed his thanks to a fan which recognized him and picked up his breakfast tab anonymously at Denny’s earlier that day.
These were the songs every fan wanted to hear and without hearing these songs, I would’ve felt like I was ripped off.
I noticed a couple sitting at the back who jumped to their feet and began dancing with reckless abandon and probably singing along to both of the songs.
As the group was exiting the stage, Du Vall tossed out what I tought were guitar picks as Kinney gave out drumsticks. Du Vall even stuck around a little while longer to interact with a few eager fans at the edge of the stage.
If I had one complaint, it’s that I didn’t hear the song, I Stay Away, which is probably my favourite, but overall, I’d say that Alice in Chains fans saw a solid, 90-minute performance from one of the best alt-rock grunge bands of all time.