If you’ve never heard of the metal monarch, King Diamond, shame on you. People like to think of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath as the originators of the genre. King Diamond isn’t quite that old in his tenure at the top of the heavy metal hierarchy, but he’s almost as influential. As the lead singer of Mercyful Fate, King Diamond went on to almost create the black metal genre. With lyrics about the occult and Satan, the band created a massive following. Slayer and Metallica both cite Mercyful Fate as huge influences on them. Following a departure from Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, formed the band, King Diamond.
Last night in Anaheim for the Institute Tour, King Diamond brought a slice of that heavy metal thunder. The theme of the show was around their newest album, The Institute, which is due in 2020. We’ll go through just about everything that you could think of that went into this show. It was my first time seeing the King in person. Would he be as good as advertised? Would his insane falsetto voice hold up live? Was the Garden Grove of Anaheim a good concert venue? We’ll get to these all in due time. As for now, it’s on with the show.
Before The Show
Because Los Angeles traffic is hell, especially that on the “5”, “605”, and “57” freeways. Even after leaving at a reasonable time, I was forced to miss the two opening bands for the show, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and Idle Hands. I didn’t hear much from the crowd about them before the show, but it always sucks to miss the opening bands of a show to get you in the mood. Arriving at the venue around, 8:30, I was delighted to check that King Diamond would go on at 9:00. So I got into “Tier 2” of the seating.
A quick aside about the Garden Grove of Anaheim. It’s located pretty close to Disneyland and the heart of Anaheim. The shadow of Angel Stadium and the Honda Center loom over it. It was surprisingly easy to get in to, parking wasn’t horrendous for a concert, $12, and it was a clean and well sounding venue. I’d go back and recommend anyone else to go.
The crowd had to wait for a little bit after 9:00 for the main event to go on, but at least we were treated to some killer tunes from Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, and Deep Purple. The lights went down, and Uriah Heep’s “The Wizard” tuned up the crowd.
King Diamond Is Wheeled Out
Now this heading might be a little misleading. It makes you think that King Diamond is some old geezer that has to be wheeled out and propped up to perform. That was the farthest thing from the case in Anaheim. The stage was masterfully decorated to look like a mental institution. Complete with a wire bed frame to the top left of the stage, an iron door with a small window, and all the accouterments of evil with a three level stage design. Iron Maiden always has the best stages that rotate, change, and adapt to the songs they’re playing, but King Diamond is up there with them on this one.
So the King himself was wheeled out on a gurney and the slow opening of “The Candle” from Fatal Portrait, their first album. As he slowly rises from the gurney, the rest of the band emerged from the back and went right into the song. I was worried that King Diamond’s singing style wouldn’t translate well to a live performance. It seems like one of those voices that’s hard to replicate night in, night out. That also, was not the case. He did have Livia Zita, singing backup vocals with him. This helped to smooth over some of the notes, but he was his own great self singing.
Abigail Dominates The First Section
“The Candle” quickly turned into “Behind These Walls” from The Eye. Followed by a tape of “Funeral” entering into “Arrival” from his masterpiece, Abigail. I’ll have to write another article describing just how insanely good the concept album of Abigail is, but it was a treat just to hear a couple tracks from it here. He and the rest of the band knocked this section of the concert out of the park. The follow-up to “Arrival” was the equally blistering “A Mansion in Darkness”. Finishing up this part of the story for Abigail and Jonathan until later in the night.
The Only Stinker From King Diamond On The Night
After the little Abigail twosome, the band went into their only sub-par song for the night. “Voodoo” off the Voodoo album. It was supplemented with a dancer under the voodoo spell of King Diamond. That made the song fun and theatrical, but it’s just not my favorite song from their body of work.
The sub-par choice of “Voodoo” was immediately erased from my memory because they went right into “Halloween” from Fatal Portrait. For me, this was the highlight of the night. I love everything about this song and how it’s played and performed. It’s hard, heavy, and the crowd gets to interact with the band while they’re playing. King Diamond even had them give another scream for Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday and as I said in the Top 10 Heavy Metal Halloween Songs list I made a while ago, it captures the feel of the holiday perfectly.
A Brand New Song
Showing that King Diamond isn’t all about nostalgia and strictly older material, we were treated to a brand new song, “Masquerade of Madness”. The song off The Institute shows that King Diamond isn’t anywhere near being done from a creative or performance standpoint. Listen to the above track and it’s even better live.
The rule of playing new material live at a metal show is that you have to follow it up with a song that brings the audience back in, even if the new material happens to kick a lot of ass. What did they bust out? They busted out someone dressed as a satanic Grandma, that’s what. If you’re a fan of King Diamond, that can mean only one song. “Welcome Home”.
Off the Them album, it tells the beginning of King Diamond and his battle with the spirits of evil and his grandmother. Most bands that would play songs from concept albums without the corresponding story wouldn’t work. King Diamond made it seamless between the stories and they almost sort of match up with each other. Theming them with the occult helps a lot with this.
Invisible Guests and Sleepless Nights
Surprisingly, the King’s story with his own family took precedent over the story of Abigail. He played three songs all in a row with “Welcome Home”, “Invisible Guests” and “Sleepless Nights”. What made “Sleepless Nights” all the more impressive was that King didn’t have his backup vocals for the song. He belted all the huge notes in the song without any assistance. It was majestic. Following these three insane songs, Grandma was wheeled off stage and King Diamond then ripped into “The Lake” off Fatal Illusion. A hard and heavy classic to get the crowd back into it after the last three songs. It was a fantastic jolt of energy that brought the house down. After this, the band left the stage and the crowd chanted in unison: “KING. DIAMOND. KING. DIAMOND.”
The Final Two of King Diamond
“The Devil is here tonight!” As the band came on stage after their short break. It went straight into “Burn” off The Eye. The crowd sang along with the chorus for this one and it was a pleasure for everyone involved. The last song of the night was dedicated to the late Timi Hansen of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, “Black Horsemen”. Tying up the Abigail story from the beginning of the concert, Miriam/Abigail came out to act out the scenes from the song. This was the most moving song of the night for me. If “Halloween” was the highlight, “Black Horsemen” was a close second. The guitar work by Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead was top notch. Matt Thompson kept the beat on the drums.
Black Horsemen Ride Into The Night
“Black Horsemen” is a fitting end to the overall concert because it finishes up the story of Abigail and the story of the night. Which was all about blistering heavy metal and having a great time with a bunch of other heavy metal fans. The only complaint I can have about anything on the night was the asshole standing in front of me recording the whole show on his phone for Facebook Live. I get wanting to take pictures, I took pictures. But sitting the entire concert with your phone up in the air like a doofus getting poor quality recording is a bad move. So to that guy, kiss my, and probably everyone behind you’s, ass.
Other than that, it was a great show and I recommend anyone who has the chance to see King Diamond perform, does it. They’re that good, and you won’t regret it. I give the show and the stage performance a 10/10. Rock hard, ride free, and defend the heavy metal faith.
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