Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Return Of The King

King Diamond 
The Warfield, San Francisco
October 30, 2014

This was quite an epic week in San Francisco! The night before the San Francisco Giants got it done and improbably brought the World Series Championship back to The Bay.  CRAZY!  Ironically, this show also fell within a few days of the 30th Anniversary of Mercyful Fate's first visit to San Francisco:

[From the Umlaut Archives]

If I remember correctly, this was King's first U.S. Tour in 6 years.  Of course, the excitement around this trek was completely justified; the S.F. show was sold out around 2 months in advance.  It's not often a bona fide event like this comes to town.  It was an obvious reminder that, compared to Metal legacy acts like King Diamond, few recent Metal bands have the same level of mystique and history that can turn grown men into screaming little school girls... unless maybe it's Baby Metal. Discuss amongst yourselves.

After a little bit of Will Call drama I found myself in the lobby during the support band surrounded by many old friends, some of whom I've known since we were teenagers.  This included an old Metal penpal named Brian Slagel who still pursues his teenage hobby of putting out records by Metal bands.  It was cool to chat and catch up with Mr. Slagel again.  The entire lobby experience tonight was all a nice full circle moment.  Curiously, members of Rancid were also there.  I guess there wasn't a Punk show tonight?

When the houselights switched off the pent up anticipation, worship, and excitement that everyone in the room had been feeling exploded.  When King appeared onstage a lot of people.. for lack of a better term.. lost their shit.

[Photos courtesy of Photo Ray]

I'll come clean and say I've never been a big fan of King's solo material.  Mercyful Fate were and are one of the most important bands in my life... but I never gravitated towards King's other material as profoundly.  Honesty is my only excuse.  However, the stage show was one of most theatrical Metal performances (in a good way) that you could hope to witness.  Since King is such a larger than life figure, the fact that he was able to bring his full European stage production here in 2014 was nothing short of a blessing.  From the cemetery gates that divided the band from the audience for the first songs, to the simple iconic backdrops, to the excellent multi-level backline it was a show I can only imagine was life changing for the youngest fans in attendance.

 [Photos courtesy of Cable Car]

Combine that with some entertaining theatrical moments with characters such as Grandma (!) during 'Welcome Home' and later her burning during 'Cremation' and it was one of the best value for money shows you could hope for in this day and age.  More Metal shows should have magic tricks onstage IMO!  Of course, on top of all this magic was King and his top notch band of veteran musicians.  They were all solid and King sounded GREAT!  Given his recent health issues, it would be easy to expect King not to be able to perform to the same level of his past and cut him some slack... but there was obviously a reason why he's waited so long to return to the stage.  Recovery.  Rebirth.  His voice was top notch and his charisma was still undeniable... and when he and the band launched into a Mercyful Fate double shot of 'Evil' into 'Come To The Sabbath' the 3,000 or so in attendance.. for lack of a better term.. lost their shit.  As a bonus since it was that time of year, the set also included an especially nice version of 'Halloween' during the encores.

Hail Satan!  Go Giants!!

If you bought one of every King Diamond merch item you would have paid around $300 I think.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.  I don't know what else to say... and I also don't think I said enough.  King has been one of my heroes since before I could buy alcohol legally and it's a special thing to know that one of my heroes is still basically at the top of his game. 

"Grandma, welcome home..  You have been gone for far too long.. Is this a dream?  Are you really back?"

Click HERE to see more of Photo Ray's shots from the night!