Alice in Chains - NC Music Factory, Charlotte, NC 4/20/10

Many of you who will read this have probably heard at least a part of the trials and tribulations I've had in my efforts to see Alice in Chains live. For those who haven't, it's really too long to bother going into but I will say this: after two trips to Charlotte, a snow storm, a sick (with the flu) band, an 8 week postponement, a change in venue, and a combined two days of vacation time used, all it took to see Alice in Chains live was sitting through some rain.

The show was originally going to be held at The Fillmore in Charlotte. It's a great venue that I saw the Dropkick Murphy's at back in March. The postponement of the show allowed them to move Alice in Chains outside to the NC Music Factory (another part of the same facility). It makes sense really, you figure they were able to increase their capacity, sell more tickets, everyone wins right? Oh wait, it's now the end of April and it's raining.

Having worked in minor league baseball for a few years, I really don't mind running around in the rain. Two of the most fun sporting events I've ever been to were during torrential downpours (one of which never even occurred - take that Lee Corso's rental car!), but there's something different about sitting/standing around in the rain for a football game and a concert.

We weren't aware until we showed up for the rescheduled show that Shooter Jennings & Hierophant were opening. They only played for about half an hour but were quite good. I really wish I had been more familiar with their stuff as it would have been that much better. My friend Dave was all over their new album a month ago when it came out. See his review here. If only I had read that prior to my trip to Charlotte.

Once Alice in Chains took the stage, all of the shenanigans of the past month were completely worth it. They tore through 17 songs - a great mix from not only the latest album Black Gives Way to Blue, but their earlier albums as well. I swear that it started raining harder half way through 'Rain When I Die', which was amusing. After about 5 minutes of the crowd cheering, drumming on seats, and generally acting as though a riot was about to break out, Jerry Cantrell and Company came back out and played the two songs everyone had wanted to hear - 'Would?' and 'Rooster'.

Both after the main set and after the encore, all four band members picked up the mic and voice their appreciation for everyone's support and patience over the postponement and bad weather. That was pretty cool, not just the lead singer, or most well known band member, but each one. You could really tell that they were performing their hearts out up on stage. I can only hope for other fans that they play that way each time out and not just because they were trying to make it up to the city of Charlotte.

Over the past 4 months since I originally purchased my ticket for this show, the one thing I have heard from people over and over again was 'I'm not sure how you can have Alice in Chains without Layne Staley'. Well, let me tell ya somethin', the Layne Staley/Jerry Cantrell sound was unique and will never be replaced, BUT the 'new' lead singer William DuVall is as close as anyone could come. It's really quite amazing. His sound is very similar to Layne's, but it's natural. He's not trying to emulate Layne Staley. And that's what makes him a perfect fit for the band moving forward after their 14 some odd year layoff.

To anyone that hasn't checked out the new album, do yourself a favor and do so. It's excellent. If you have an opportunity to see Alice in Chains live, do that as well. It's well worth the money (and in my case the extra road trips/aggravation of taking time off from work).

Here's one of the videos I was able to take the other night:


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