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Newport Centre, Sat 16 Nov


Opening with the title track of their most beloved album, Dirt, Alice In Chains fans were instantly assured of a treat at Newport Centre.

Support came from Duff McKagan (of Guns N’ Roses fame)’s new band Walking Papers, a brilliant blues and hard rock-influenced act; and Swedish heavy metal band, Ghost – a theatrically dressed doom outfit lead by a ghost-faced Roman Catholic cardinal. Both support acts enjoyed a positive crowd response, with Walking Papers warming up the audience and Ghost making AIC look like a light relief.

However, after the first chord it was clear who the screaming fans were really there to see. Over 10 years since the tragic death of the band’s lead singer, Layne Staley, AIC  are selling out shows and inspiring crowds of fans, young and old.

This is a band that has stood the test of time, and this show was a testament to their influential status in rock history.

A backdrop of projector screens evoked the vibe of every song, images of a caged man supplementing iconic 1991 release, Man In The Box – the distorted riff pulsating through the whole body of the crowd. AIC didn’t shy away from the old songs: Staley’s successor, frontman William DuVall, eerily echoed the vocals of the legend that went before him, mastering every note with such ease it was as if Staley’s presence was radiating from within him.

While lesser known classics were aired, much to the approval of the bellowing crowd, it seems somewhat traditional for the encore to bring the band back for their biggest hits, and this was no exception. Filling back on to the stage the band plummeted into Down In A Hole followed by power ballad Would?.

The band ended how they begun: returning to second album Dirt, an record which arguably defines their time as a band, they finished with one of its highlights, Rooster. The last line resonated as if a tribute to Staley, the man who couldn’t be there, “he ain’t gonna die” – and with so many passionate fans shouting every lyrics in unison, neither will Alice In Chains.

words and photos ALICE PATTILLO

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