Sometimes people can’t see something for what it really is until all of the labels fall away. Alice in Chains have gotten past the “Seattle grunge” tag, and lead singer William DuVall is no longer just “Layne Staley’s replacement.” Now we all just see them as one hell of a rock band with powerful songs, great players and a kickass lead singer.
The band kept it minimal for their show at the Pearl—jeans and T-shirts, just a few colored lights for backdrop—to let the music take center stage. Their set reached back to 1990’s Facelift for “We Die Young” but also included tracks from 2013’s sprawling The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here for “Hollow” and “Stone.” Their sour-note ode to the Golden State, “Check my Brain” had plenty of grind and swagger, while the slow-burn of “Rooster” still raised goosebumps with its harrowing first-person tale of war and survival.
The peak was “Would?,” a song that somehow combines doubt, pain and failure into a towering anthem of humanity. DuVall teetered on the edge of the stage, getting close to the crowd as it howled the lyrics Am I wrong? Have I run too far from home? back at him. It was a catharsis for both sides of the footlights. ★★★★✩
Photos by Wayne Posner