An old familiar song, like a taste, or a smell, has the power to tap into the deep recesses of our minds, sometimes stimulating our brains into remembering things we didn’t even remember we had forgotten. It’s been nearly twenty-five years since I first saw King Diamond perform live at the Cleveland Agora, and perhaps fifteen years since I actually listened to any of his records. But leading up to this show I found myself dusting off the old LPs, and the anticipation of witnessing the first live performance of his seminal 1987 release, Abigail, mounted exponentially by the day. As King Diamond’s dead grandma wheeled herself onstage during the opening bars of “Welcome Home”, many in the sold out crowd in attendance Thursday night at the Wiltern were immediately transported back in time, rekindling memories of the first time we had seen King Diamond perform live back in the late 1980s.
Like a fine wine, the King’s unique delivery and indefatigable vocal acrobatics have only improved over time, and his falsetto greeting of the demonic patriarch of the House of “Amon” bore out that truth. Flanked by an elaborate backdrop, replete with horned demons, griffins, and upside down crosses, the band ripped through a half dozen KD and Mercyful Fate classics before getting to the main event. And as Abigail’s opening track “Arrival” commenced, it was clear that the entire band was in top form, faithfully replicating nearly note-for-note one of the most influential metal records ever recorded with stunning precision and impeccable musicianship. Longtime KD guitarist Andy LaRocque’s exquisite and inventive guitar work was on full display from start to finish, as well, with “7th Day of July 1777” being particularly noteworthy for his creative soundscaping segues between solo and verse.
One glaring take away from the evening was that seemingly half the crowd in attendance wasn’t even born when Abigail was released , yet most knew every word to every song. So, as many of us were busy reliving the past Thursday night, the younger fans were creating their own memories – a powerful testament to the staying power and far-reaching influence of King Diamond’s legacy. One can only hope that the band will revisit this format again soon, and consider performing the 1988 classic “Them” in its entirety, perhaps even bringing Dr. Landau along next time. Because, as evidenced Thursday night, the King still sure does make a damn good cup of tea.
-Review by Michael Peffer.