It almost feels fitting, that King Diamond would arrive in Montreal during the earliest snow storm the city has had in thirty-six years. Most will claim it as coincidence, and nothing more. With the snow accumulating outside; the King brought the fire inside.
Portland’s Idle Hands must have been eager to play for the musical hotbed that is Montreal. So much so that they were already rocking the stage when I arrived, a full twenty minutes before the announced starting time. Their debut set struck the right chords with many of the early birds in attendance, and despite the fairly low numbers on the dance floor, the band received quite the cheer.
Sonically somewhere between The Sisters Of Mercy, The Cure and In Solitude – blending heavy metal with Gothic rock-edged with a purely 80s vibe. Idle Hands are a hot product that surely will be making waves in the very near future. Behind his mullet and dark aviator sunglasses, Gabriel Franco, the main song and lyric writer, belts out modern anthems from a resurging period and does so with vigour.
Next up, from Cambridge, England, came Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats. As the name would suggest, these lads belt out a heavy psychedelic brand of rock n’ roll, with an ample helping of doom and stoner rock thrown in. Passages with wicked heavy metal riffs polish off the sound. Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats perform with an energy that many of their peers in the genre lack – leaning more on the rock n’ roll than on the stoner quality dirge and shoegaze approach that is often coupled with such a soundscape.
The King’s stage suddenly burst forth from behind a curtain. A three-story set-up unlike anything I have ever seen on a stage at the Mtelus – or as the Metropolis which many of us still refer to it as. The drum kit of Matt Thompson sat on the second floor, while a boardwalk ran above him, where the King himself would spend time with the back-up singers. Practically in the rafters.
On the ground floor, between two grand staircases, was a door with a number “9” painted on it. The significance of this will be familiar to fans of the King. It is the name of the most recent Mercyful Fate album, (if 1999 can still be considered recent, that is) who have recently announced their reformation and subsequent European tour. Hopefully, a North American trek follows. From this door, came King Diamond on a gurney. Arose he did, finding his microphone made up of a tibia and femur bone hanging on the wall behind him, thus beginning the performance.
There isn’t another singer in the metal realm with the vocal range of the King. As simply put as that. Trained in opera, his falsetto style means he can reach unbelievable highs as well as a lower range more familiar with fans of hard rock and heavy metal. Be it Mercyful Fate or his solo King Diamond alter ego, the King puts on one hell of a show. Packed with theatrics and props galore, so much so that it is practically impossible not to keep a keen eye on the stage for fear of missing out on the next performance.
Knocking out tracks from seven albums, including the week-old new single, “Masquerade Of Madness”, from the upcoming 2020 record, and a cover of Uriah Heep’s “The Wizard”. The crowd was treated to thirteen pieces in total, as the King and guitar virtuoso extraordinaire, Andy Larocque, played near-perfect renditions of each song on the list. Larocque, of course, was a member of the seminal death metal band named, erm, Death, as well as the author of the blinding guitar solo on At The Gates’ “Cold” track. As well as a plethora of other guest spots throughout the decades. Diamond has always had a knack of filling his bands with incredible musicians.
At 63 years old, King Diamond is as good as he has ever been. And this latest Montreal visit was a treat that hopefully won’t be his final visit, nor will we have to wait another five years for his return. Hail to the King, baby!
Review & photos – Kieron YatesShare this :