Detroit,Michigan(November 14th,2019)-When an artist is well into a five decade music career, it is a given that touring has taken its toll both vocally and physically on their body. There are a few, however, that have used time as a learning experience to make their live performance less stressful while still keeping the music and aesthetics just as stimulating as in the past. With the announcement that metal royalty, King Diamond had a new studio record in the can and a subsequent tour aptly named The Institute Tour ready to go, the triumphant return of the King to Detroit was imminent.
The Fillmore Detroit was the chosen venue and served as a perfect backdrop for the Kings diabolical stage setting. Elaborate chandeliers and ornate statues harken back to a bygone era when grandiose theaters were the meeting places for the rich, famous, gangsters and “Dons” who ruled the social gatherings. Tonight, it was a different type clientele filling the historic venue, metalheads on hand to take in the legendary performance of King Diamond .
After a rousing set by British doom rockers Uncle Acid & the Dead Beats and Idle Hands, a well-orchestrated stage changeover ensued that had stage hands constructing an entire set — complete with three levels and multiple staircases. Once the process was complete, the results displayed an elaborate asylum façade that would be the main feature of the Kings performance. It has been 4 excruciatingly long years since Abigail in Concert 2015 Tour and King Diamonds fans have been patient long enough. As door #9 of the institute opens, a hooded servant wheels King Diamond out on a gurney to the eerie introduction to “St. Lucifer’s Hospital.”
Opening the 14-song, one hour and thirty minute set with “The Candle”, a throwback to 1986’s debut, Fatal Portrait, the night was history of King Diamond’s prolific catalog, touching on as much of the band’s classic material as the allotted time permitted. Well-choreographed skits introduced storylines from each of King Diamonds LP’s including the ritualistic murder of the infant Abigail before the ensuing performance of “Arrival” and “A Mansion in Darkness.”
Included in the robust set was the closest thing to a hit single in the band’s discography, the cult classic,“Halloween.” Ironically, it was dually noted by the King that they were “a little late,” for the haunting holiday. None the less, the haunting performance received an ovation like it was actually Halloween night.
If the theatrical performance wasn’t enough to excite the senses, the classic tones of guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead were full-on and encompassing, the latter ripping off unabashed solos while LaRocque held down his longstanding role as King Diamond’s musical right hand, guiding the songs rhythmically as he has done in the past. If you closed your eyes, you could be instantly teleported back in time with the band sounding just as they did in the ’80s, holding fast to a pure and minimal sonic approach that is fully encompassing and engaging. King Diamond’s iconic falsetto wail was in full force, accentuated by the overlaid backing vocals of Livia Vita, who sang from her platform on the second level of the stage set. In fact, the Kings voice was so strong and vibrant it made you wonder if he had found the Fountain of Youth or conjured up some miracle potion in the Institute!
The only new song in the performance“Masquerade of Madness,” fit seamlessly next to older material and eased any apprehensions as to whether the new studio album, The Institute, would be a drop-off in comparison to earlier King Diamond releases. Based on the crowd’s reaction to the new song mixed with the powerful display of King Diamonds vocals throughout the evening, the new release should be a welcome addition to any of his fans music library and playlists!
King Diamond ended the evening with a somber yet touching tribute to his former Mercyful Fate/King Diamond bandmate, Timi Hansen who unfortunately passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. Hansen played bass on Fatal Portrait and Abigail, bringing the same meticulous beats to those albums as he did alongside King Diamond in Mercyful Fate. The King dedicated “Black Horseman” to his fallen comrade, a fitting tribute to the legacy that the renowned bassist leaves behind. It was poignant moment it time that required no further adieux. King Diamond ended the night as it started, through door #9, looking back in honor of his friend, one last time to wave farewell.