Event Report: King Diamond, Live in New York City!Books/Art/Culture,News Ken W. Hanley
It was a dark, wet night on Thursday, November 19th, when this writer ventured out to see the one and only King Diamond on his first of three nights playing at the Playstation Theater in New York City. To be honest, the notice was a bit of a surprise: Diamond’s original Friday/Saturday gig sold out very quickly, and when a third show was promptly added, this writer knew he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see the Danish rock icon live in concert. Yet the road to seeing King Diamond was not as easy as one might imagine: following high temperatures throughout November, heavy rainfall hit on the 19th, backing up traffic tremendously and making the journey from the PATH exit on 34th Street to the Playstation Theater on 44th street one that would leave this writer soaking wet.
Combined with an unforeseen complication that would leave this writer unable to witness the set from opening act Exodus, this night was turning out to be a horror unto itself. But luckily, this writer was able to get into the venue just in time for King Diamond’s set, and in mere seconds, all worries and frustrations went out the window as the band’s incredible stage design was revealed. With a blue-ish purple backlighting, the two-layered stage included upside-down crosses, interchangeable backdrops (beginning with a Baphomet-adorning pentagram), gargoyles, a sacrificial alter and much more. And once an actress adorning an old woman mask was wheeled out to the center stage, we all knew what was next.
Soon, the awesome drum solo for “Welcome Home” filled the Playstation Theater, sending the crowd into hysterics as King Diamond finally walked onto the stage, adorning corpse paint make-up, a pentagram-sporting top hat, a full Gothic Horror warddrobe and a microphone attached to a corpse made of bones. Hitting his trademark falsetto scream with unrestrained intensity, and with energetic bandmates to match, “Welcome Home” was the best note on which to start this awesome concert, laying the groundwork for the night ahead with a fan favorite that undeniably kicks ass. But even better, “Welcome Home” showed the crowd that this was going to be much more than a regular rock concert: King Diamond live was going to be a full-blown horror experience, with elements of interactive theater, stage show and performance art all on display.
Following “Welcome Home” was a one-two punch of “Sleepless Nights” and Diamond’s holiday anthem “Halloween,” by which time the audience finally caught into a full frenzy, with crowdsurfers and mosh-pits now in full effect. Diamond then broke out “Eye of the Witch,” an electric tune for even the most casual King Diamond fans, before going on with a pair of Mercyful Fate classics: “Melissa” and “Come to the Sabbath.” It was also around this time that Diamond’s show became even more theatrical: a witch burning re-enactment, the appearances of torch-holding actresses and actors, and stagehands dressed in cult-like robes all added to Diamond’s statement that every night he performs is just like another Halloween.
Following a performance of “Them,” out came a small coffin (of course, marked ‘Abigail’), and marked the latter half of the concert, in which Diamond and Co. would perform the band’s 1987 concept album ABIGAIL in its entirety. Alongside longtime guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead as well as drummer Matt Thompson and fairly new-bassist Pontus Egberg, the band nailed every macabre moment of ABIGAIL, putting in a concentrated effort to deliver a full-energy performance while working complimentary to one another and the stage performers around them. And once the band cleared all 9 tracks of ABIGAIL, King Diamond capped the night off with their incredible instrumental “Insanity,” ending the night with an epic finale.
From start to finish, King Diamond was more than just an impressive exercise in horror-fueled rock ‘n’ roll, offering a much more immersive concert experience. The fun, frightening experience of King Diamond live is infectious to say the least, making most concertgoers bang their head to even the Diamond tracks they weren’t familiar with. Besides, there’s something undeniably badass about a 59-year-old rock icon taking the stage with the same energy and bravado as performers 1/3rd his age, especially when he’s belting out tracks about the undead, witchcraft and sacrificing children to the dark arts.
King Diamond’s U.S tour continues until December 5th; for dates, venues and tickets, please visit King Diamond’s official site HERE.