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Alice In Chains Give New York ‘Would?’ at Album Warmup Show

In the 14 years since Alice In Chains‘ last album, a lot has changed — not the least of which was the sad decline and eventual death of original vocalist Layne Staley. While his spectre hangs over the band seven years later, their forthcoming album, ‘Black Gives Way to Blue,’ serves as both a tribute to Staley and a reawakening. Four stops into a small club tour for the record, they road-tested some songs from the new album and highlighted familiar favorites at the 1000-capacity Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza.

While Alice In Chains’ set was far from a mere nostalgia show, much of the crowd seemed content to have just that. Many looked like they’d caught the seminal grunge band the first time around. And yes, there was plenty of flannel and patchouli oil represented.

New vocalist William DuVall is a more-than-capable replacement for Staley. While able to match the former vocalist note for note, it sometimes seemed slightly incongruous to hear him singing Staley’s autobiographical lyrics — which were essentially a drug-addicted cry for help. DuVall sounded more at home singing the new material, which doesn’t shoulder the burden of legacy.

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Alice In Chains Live in NYC
Alice In Chains perform live at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza in New York.
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Justina Villanueva

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oKE.start(“music-noisecreep.alice.in.chains.irving”);

But listening to the familiar fifth-note vocal harmonies and signature riffs from guitairst Jerry Cantrell, one couldn’t help but be reminded how big a part he was and is of Alice In Chains. In fact, many in the crowd chanted ‘Jerry’ in between songs, like it was a Grateful Dead concert. The ‘Dirt’-era (and onward) rhythm section of bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney rounded out the quartet.

While Alice In Chains toured with DuVall several years ago, this was the first time that many people had seen the band in their current incarnation. Songs from the forthcoming album, which is due out Sept. 29, sounded great, with ‘Check My Brain’ an instant classic. They played several others from the album, including opener ‘A Looking in View’ and ‘Acid Bubble.’ Songs like ‘Man in the Box,’ ‘No Excuses’ and ‘Would?’ were crowd singalongs.

And both DuVall and Cantrell shared the mic in between songs, seeming genuinely appreciative of the audience reaction. As unlikely as it seemed at the beginning of the decade that Alice In Chains have a comeback in them, if the New York show was any indication, it seems like they’re going to pull this off.

Alice in Chains set list
‘Rain When I Die’
‘Again’
‘Check My Brain’
‘Them Bones’
‘Dam that River
‘A Looking In View’
‘We Die Young’
‘Nutshell’
‘Down In A Hole’
‘God Am’
‘Acid Bubble’
‘Angry Chair’
‘Man In the Box’
‘Would?’
‘Grind’
‘No Excuses’
‘Rooster’

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