It’s not hard to pinpoint the brilliant musical success of King Diamond that has surrounded him as a solo artist throughout the last twenty plus years. A success that has been nothing short of stella.
Many diehard fans know his distinct falsetto voice from the days of black metal with early band Merciful Fate which propelled King D into a phenomenon. His now trade mark mask and a microphone handle, consisting of a femur and tibia bone in the shape of a cross, add to the mystery. What can this instigator of satanic rock opera bring to Pennsylvania tonight?
For many fans that had a chance to catch this band performing across Europe, alongside some legendary iconic names, over the summer of 2019 captivating many of the well known rock festivals seemed to be a great indication of what King Diamond would give to North American fans in a run of dates of what he is calling it The Institute Tour in support of the new album which will be released in 2020.
While it’s been more than a ten year wait for the mastermind of King Diamond to release new material, we settle for nothing less than, what we hope will be, a great live experience.
Sitting through two opening bands is no easy task especially if you don’t know a damn thing about either bands and looking up info on line sometimes has an advantage but takes the enjoyment of what to expect of any band rather quickly. First up was a great short set by Portland Oregano’s Idle Hands a five-piece power house that certainly provided a great six song set from their debut album, Mana, which is worthy of a check on the list of albums to get this year.
A quick set change over and then in direct support of the Diamond Tour was UK Doom rockers Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats led by Kevin Starrs who also entertained the us with tracks from their first five studio albums.
After the final preparations had taken place during the 25 minute intermission, the lights went out and the intro started to fill the speakers of the Tower Theater. The curtain lifted and the entertainment took over, from a the naked eye it appeared to be a two level complete stage set up like a vintage hospital…of course The Institute!
I have always liked how the visual special effects like this makes a typical show much more impressive with lights, smoke machines and a battery of blazing set of lights flashing across the stage.
Out comes King Diamond strapped to a gurney (a wheeled stretcher used for transporting hospital patients) that set the mood of a dead rock star that suddenly comes alive, a bit confused throws he himself off the contraption, and the show begins to unfold with the opening song, The Candle, from the1986 album Fatal Portrait.
We all have out favorites and wished the entire show would be based around every well known song he has ever written but that’s not possible, as a seventy minute show could have easily turned into two plus hours or more if we had it our way.
Other favourites by the Danish shock rocker were pulled from 1990s record The Eye, with Behind These Walls played among cult classics like Voodoo and Halloween spanning his catalog and going way back like a history lesson in gothic metal.
It’s always refreshing when an artist references where it all began for them and King D yelled out to the packed house “it’s nice to back where it all started for me in 1984 with the group Mercyful Fate”.
The energy and the display of the great-well-rounded-musicians he has with him, made for a fantastic show complete with just one new song Masquerade Of Madness from the forthcoming album. Rounding out the complete set list of this show King Diamond unleashed two amazing encores from relics in his catalog Burn and from 1987s Abigail album release, Black Horsemen, which was a heartfelt dedication of the recent passing of his former bassist Timi Hensen.
It was certainly a high energy show with many spectacular songs that have made this individual more than just a performer, he is the King of his own show… enough said.
Review and Photography By Steve Trager at the Tower Theater, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. 10th November 2019.