December 1, 2015 King Diamond Haunts Playstation Theater, NYC 11-19-15 w/ Exodus
Music legend King Diamond has blackened the Heavy Metal scene for thirty years with his band, King Diamond. Originally of the band Mercyful Fate, King Diamond helped establish his darkened style by incorporating a corpse painted face, becoming his signature. The band King Diamond has faced a multitude of lineup changes since 1986’s debut album Fatal Portrait. Through it all, King Diamond himself has created one masterpiece after another over the course of twelve studio albums. Revitalized after a long road back from a triple bypass surgery in 2010, King Diamond has a new lease on life, perhaps with more ambition than ever before. In fact, the vocalist told CrypticRock in 2014, now is the time to see King Diamond live in concert more than ever. With that in mind, the latest arrangement includes veteran members King Diamond himself and long-time guitarist Andy LaRocque, as well as Guitarist Mike Wead, Drummer Matt Thompson, and Bassist Pontus Egberg.
Featured as mainstage headliners on the final Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival this past Summer, shortly thereafter, a North American Tour was announced for the Fall to celebrate their 1987 album, Abigail, and play it in its entirety. Inviting Exodus as support, the tour kicked off on October 29th with stops coast to coast and will conclude on December 5th at the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas. Originally slated for eighteen tour dates, due to popular demand, more dates were tacked on the schedule. This was most notably in New York City where the band added two extra nights in the city, playing three nights in a row at the Playstation Theater in the heart of Times Square. With the Friday and Saturday nights completely sold out, King Diamond treated fans who arrived on Thursday, November 19th, to first look of the show. What a night it would be with the original concept and story of Abigail creatively showcased for all eyes to see.
Opening the show was the Thrash Metal pioneers from Northern California known as Exodus supporting their tenth overall studio album, 2014’s Blood In, Blood Out via Nuclear Blast Records. Originating in the early ’80s, when Thrash Metal was just beginning, their journey has been a long one including the death of members, and shuffling through multiple, including the departure of Guitarist Kirk Hammett in 1983 who left to join Metallica. After all of that, plus label issues and hiatuses, Exodus has survived to be one of the most important bands of the American Thrash Metal scene. A huge reason for this is due to the drive of Guitarist Gary Holt. Holt rebuilt the band multiple times, and their Blood In, Blood Out album proves that they are unbreakable. With that said, Exodus’ current lineup is comprised of Vocalist Steve Souza, celebrating his third go-around, Guitarist Lee Altus, Bassist Jack Gibson, original Drummer Tom Hunting and, of course, Guitarist Holt. Due to the scheduling overlap with Slayer’s overseas tour, Kragen Lum from Heathen replaced Holt on guitar for this tour.
As the house lights dimmed, Exodus took the stage and started with the classic “Exodus” from 1984’s Bonded By Blood. Moving along to newer material, they cut in with the relentless titled track, “Blood In, Blood Out,” followed by “Body Harvest.” Fans were mesmerized as fists were raised throughout the crowd as Souza’s powered through “Impaler.” Souza demanded all to scream louder as they fired into “Blacklist” from 2004’s Tempo of the Damned. The fierce guitar mastery by Altus and Lum magnified throughout the venue. The exuberating performance did not drop as they continued to roll in with the infamous “Bonded by Blood.” Souza took a moment to speak to the fans, saying that everyone there was part of the Metal family and blood brothers. They were honored to perform before the Sir. King Diamond and went into “The Toxic Waltz” from 1989’s Fabulous Disaster. As fans indulged with moshing pleasure, Souza wanted to end the set right. Introducing the final song by defining it as, “Straight from the mother beast,” he convinced the crowd to form a massive mosh pit as they played “Strike of the Beast” from 1984’s Bonded by Blood. The performance got the crowd pumped and ready for the all mighty King Diamond. Following this North American run, Exodus will be to South America in January and will more than likely receive a warm welcome.
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Fans were patently awaiting when the red stage curtain slowly opened and revealed each member, including the notorious Grandma. The stage was officially unveiled, showing the mansion themed Abigail setting displayed with upside down crosses in the background. The notorious stairs were emphasized and would be fully showcased later in the evening. The band embraced the audience with theatrics during the classic “Welcome Home” from 1988’s Them. King Diamond brought Grandma back home and escorted her with her wooden cane onto the stage. Fans cheered along during “Sleepless Nights” from 1989’s Conspiracy as it howled across the room. Celebrating All Hallows Eve, he proudly went into “Halloween” from 1986’s Fatal Portrait. Carrying on with surprises, Diamond continued to bewitch all with “Eye of the Witch” from 1990’s The Eye. As the set was warming up with favorable tunes, Diamond brought in a few treats from Mercyful Fate, surprising all with “Melissa” and “Come to Sabbath” from 1983’s Melissa and 1984’s Don’t Break the Oath. The evening spiraled back in time, playing the transitional “Them” and preparing to turn the Playstation Theater into 1845. The fans were warmed up and excited for 1987’s Abigail to ignite in its entirety.
Bringing the album to life as though it was the Summer of 1845, King Diamond narrated about the young couple Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey. They moved into the rustic old mansion that La’Fey had recently inherited. The casket arrived on the stage as “Funeral” emphasized the cremation of the countess and stillborn baby, named Abigail. As “Arrival,” followed by “A Mansion of Darkness,” fled in, the casket drifted off the stage and the story unfolded. King Diamond flawlessly vocalized the narration, going into the warnings from the Seven Horsemen telling the family to stay away from the haunted mansion. Chills hit the New York crowd as a ghostly woman wandered onto the stage, that could have been either the ghost of the Countess or the young Miriam herself. Moving further into the darkness with “The Family Ghost,” fans were chanting along. The tale of Abigail’s spirit that was trapped inside Miriam’s womb is ready to be reborn. Diamond flourished as he went even deeper with the story, expressing Seven Horsemen’s warning that Jonathan must put his wife Miriam to death. A woman then came on the stage and appeared to be laying down.
Diamond theatrically alerted what was coming next as the set moved into the expository track of “The 7th Day of July 1777.” Using shadows and lights, it went into the horrifying story of Abigail becoming a stillborn child as the unfaithful Countess fell down the stairs. The story was theatrically escalated by flashing lights and heavy guitar riffs, along with King Diamond’s powering vocals. Next, “Omens” returned to 1845 as the variety of haunts were revealed to the audience. Dead flowers were thrown towards the sea of fans and the cradle lifted as fog sprung out of it as well. Revealing Miriam’s rapid pregnancy by the use of haunting instrumentals where King Diamond carefully waltzed across the haunted staircases. Going into “The Possession,” the bedeviled Miriam maniacally walked across the platform where Abigail forced her to kill her husband, Jonathan. As wicked laughs and eerie acoustics were displayed, “Abigail,” the final chapter, commenced. The New York City crowd witnessed the child’s birth as a woman, wallowing on the platform, embraced the beloved Abigail. Concluding the theatrical tale and masterful evening with “Black Horsemen,” King Diamond ruthlessly put Abigail to an eternal rest as they closed with “Insanity” from 1990’s The Eye.
Not many can pull off such theatrical enhancements mixed with Heavy Metal, but that is one reason why King Diamond is a true icon. Seeing the album come to life in such theatrical ways was an experience that fans will not soon forget. With the tour concluding on December 5th, one can hope that King Diamond will head back to the studio to record yet another masterpiece.