By Larry Kaiser
Alice in Chains kicked off the first of their final three shows on their 2018 North American Tour, supporting their new album Rainier Fog, (their first since 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here) with The Pink Slips as the opener at the St. Augustine Amphitheater last night in St. Augustine, FL. With the opening cords of ‘Check my Brain’, the first single from 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue, the crowd of just over 4,000 was treated to a set list that was rich in the band’s earlier works while filtering in songs from the last three albums, otherwise known as the William Duvall era.
Since joining the band in 2006, William Duvall has won over diehard Alice in Chains fans who have said that the band is not Alice in Chains without original frontman Layne Staley, who passed away from a heroin overdose in 2002. With a strong foundation of Mike Inez on bass and drummer Sean Kinney, Duval’s vocals are a strong compliment to the guitar work of Jerry Cantrell. In true Alice in Chains fashion, Duvall and Cantrell share singing duties and harmonize very well together. Duvall also handles rhythm guitar duties, continuing the original sound of the band and forming an extremely strong guitar duo with Cantrell.
Powering through a 20-song set without much banter in between songs, the band played hits such as ‘Down in a Hole’, ‘No Excuses’, ‘Angry Chair’, ‘Nutshell’, and ‘Man in the Box’. On one of the few occasions that Jerry Cantrell addressed the crowd, he dedicated ‘Nutshell’ to the memory of Layne Staley and the band’s original bassist Mike Starr. Starr famously appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, but succumbed to his demons and passed away in 2011 from a drug overdose. ‘Man in the Box’ closed the first set with a raucous crowd sing along, which was a theme during the first set. The band was very pleased with the level of crowd participation and the atmosphere for the evening.
Before coming back out for the encore, the crowd in St. Augustine was clapping and cheering loudly. Having been to six other Alice in Chains concerts since 2006 in New York, this is the best crowd this contributor has ever seen for the band.
The second set opened with the barreling guitar riff of the first single from Rainier Fog, ‘The One You Know’. This was the fourth and final song from the new album and translated live extremely well. After a crowd-pleasing version of ‘Got Me Wrong’, Jerry quietly dedicated the next song, ‘Would?’ to former Mother Love Bone lead singer, Andy Wood. Fans of the Seattle scene know that ‘Would?’ from Alice In Chains’ 1992 album Dirt is about the Mother Love Bone frontman who died of a heroin overdose in 1990 right before the band’s only album Apple was to be released. The fan favorite ‘Rooster’, a song dedicated to Cantrell’s father, closed the show with the crowd singing the introduction before Duvall could start it himself. Duvall addressed with the crowd with “you got it, sounds good” and pretended to conduct the crowd to keep singing.
Alice in Chains put on an amazing show that fell just short of two hours and was full of the biggest hits along with songs from their last three albums. The performance was outstanding, leaving fans satisfied with a night of music played by some amazing artists. As one of the last original bands to come out of the Seattle scene, it is clear that fans still want to hear and see
the band. With each album, they continue to create music that is based on their original sound, but that is also evolving with the additional of Duvall to the band.
Alice in Chains close their 2018 North American Tour with stops in Orlando, Florida on Saturday and Hollywood, FL on Sunday.
Complete Set List:
Check my Brain
Damn That River
Down in a Hole
Love Hate Love
Nutshell (for Mike and Layne)
Man in the Box
The One You Know
Got Me Wrong
Would? (For Andy Wood)