Alice In Chains - Astoria 2006

European Tour
London - July 4
Capacity 2,000

After ten long years Alice In Chains have returned. With Comes With The Fall front-man William DuVall replacing the deceased Layne Staley, messrs Cantrell, Inez and Kinney wrap up their final European tour under the AIC moniker at a sold-out, excruciatingly hot London Astoria. On Independence Day. How poetic.

Although there was next to no question Alice In Chains would be good tonight, appalling all-girl opening act The Hedrons put it beyond doubt. "This is our last one", she said. "Yeeeaaah!", we said. "But, we're playing down the road tomorrow night!", she said. "Boooooo!", we said. "If any of yous come along we'll give you a badge", she said. I'm afraid you're going to have to give me much more than that to watch you play the same song twelve times again, love. Like Chi, the bass player.

Alice In Chains came on to the expected rapture, and played the hell out of all of their most classic songs with all the passion and joy of the last night of a tour. Both they, and the crowd, knew that this could be the end of an era. The last Alice In Chains show in England, and the rest of Europe. Just a handful of US shows to go and Alice In Chains could well be no more. With DuVall's perfect voice there's no reason the band can't carry on, and they probably will in one capacity or another, but they've categorically stated that they will not do it under the Alice In Chains banner, out of respect for their departed singer. This tour was to be the final salute to Staley, one last time playing these songs as AIC, and they couldn't have hoped for a more glorious ending.

The Astoria isn't exactly the most glamorous of venues. Nor does it have the biggest of capacities. But the atmosphere you get at a fully sold-out rock gig at the Astoria is tangible. The ethos of rock gigs can be captured in a single packed night, and not many other venues can achieve that.

Talking about the songs themselves is pointless. Anyone that cares about Alice In Chains knows the songs inside out, and anyone that thinks they might care needs to stop dithering and click the link to buy the Ultimate Alice In Chains CD, containing all of the songs played on the tour and several more. The performance however, obviously warrants discussion. The band were incredibly into the show tonight and were, for the most part at least, totally enjoying the last-night-of-the-tour feeling.

All threatened to go a bit wrong when Cantrell noticed problems with the printed setlists (which roadies had been scribbling frantically on before the band came out), and after a long discussion with the other guys, and a slightly tense rendition of No Excuses he hurled his guitar off stage in the direction of his guitar tech. This was followed fairly promptly with an excellent Down In A Hole, at the end of which Cantrell span round and kicked one of his speaker cabs off the top of the stack.

After this he seemed to settle back into the festive mood of the show again as the band played two more songs before leaving the stage. DuVall ventured back out on his own to give a little speech about touring with the AIC guys at the start of the encore, and when he turned away to collect a guitar the rest of the band (including Cantrell) emerged wearing afro wigs, as a tribute to their young, mushroom-haired vocalist. A touching moment to close the tour before the final two songs.

We may have witnessed the end of one of the greatest bands of the '90s tonight, but it was a hell of way to go. Let's hope the guys stay together under a new name and make some new music soon. Jerry also has a new solo album coming, so we've not heard the last of them, even if we have heard the last of Alice In Chains.

“ could be the end of an era ”

Setlist: Sludge Factory / Dam That River / Rain When I Die / Angry Chair > Man In The Box / Love Hate Love / Again / Junkhead / No Excuses / Down In A Hole / We Die Young / Them Bones // Rooster / Would?

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2006, Alternative, Gigs,

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