at O2 Academy, Leeds, U.K., November 10, 2013

Few bands have managed to recover from the loss of their iconic lead singer with only AC/DC arguably going onto bigger if not better things after Bon Scott departed this mortal coil.  Queen, The Doors and Nirvana all fell by the wayside after the loss of their respective singers.

When Layne Staley finally succumbed to his heroin addiction in 2002 it looked all but over for the Seattle Rockers.  Yet from the ashes of tragedy Cantrell put the band back together with new singer William DuVall who took on the huge task of replacing Staley.

Against  all the odds their first album in fourteen longs years Black Gives Way To Blue saw them riding high in the US Top 10 with the follow up The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here doing even better, being kept off the top spot only by electro Popsters, Daft Punk.

An all too rare tour of the UK was eagerly anticipated and the Leeds Academy was suitably packed to the rafters.

Walking Papers

Walking Papers, the latest project featuring former Guns n’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, opened the show.  Being much more Classic Rock based than either Duff McKagan’s Loaded or even Velvet Revolver, this was one classy performance.  Lead singer Jeff Angel’s smoky, soulful tones excelled and songs such as “The Whole World’s Watching” were reason enough to head over to the merch stall and pick up a copy of their self-titled debut album.


Next up were Ghost, current darlings of the Rock media and favorites of James Hetfield and Dave Grohl. Whether the image of Papa Emeritus II and the nameless ghouls along with the overtly satanic lyrics puts some off there’s no denying that musically they pack a punch on stage.  With songs such as “Ritual” referencing New York’s favorite screaming dizzbusters, Blue Oyster Cult, with a hint of Mercyful Fate chucked in for good measure, those expecting a barrage of Extreme Metal would be disappointed.

Alice in Chains

Despite the strength of the supporting attractions everyone was here for the main event and Alice In Chains did not disappoint.  From the very opening of “Again” to the closing refrains of “Rooster”, Alice In Chains put on one masterful performance.

The close discordant harmonies between DuVall and Jerry Cantrell were impeccable while the bulldozing riffs during “Would”, “Them Bones” and the more recent “Check My Brain” could topple a tower block.

The wonderful harmonizing during  “Down In A Hole” and a truly mesmerising “Nutshell” gave the show some effective light to the altogether darker shade of “Phantom Limb” and “We Die Young”.

DuVall certainly had a challenging job matching Staley’s performances, but by reinterpreting the parts in his own style, with a seriously cool demeanour and commanding stage presence he easily won over even the most ardent critic.

Alice in Chains

Alice In Chains are a rare beast in music these days. Their style is unmistakably theirs, no one else sounds like them.  The combination of the vocal harmonies and heavyweight riffs is utterly unique.  Thankfully Cantrell decided to bring back Sean Kinney and Mike Inez and recruit DuVall to allow the music of Alice In Chains to live and grow so that nights like these weren’t consigned to history.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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