Review + Photography by Frank Ralph

Seattle legends Alice in Chains paid a flying visit to the UK for two shows in the run up to the release of their new album due later this year and before they spend the whole summer on a huge run of festival shows.

We were lucky enough to catch them at Leeds Academy, the first of the two nights.

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Blood Red Shoes were the openers, having apparently had only 48 hours to prepare. They are a great alternative rock two-piece from Brighton and the energy displayed by drummer Steven Ansell alone was plenty to get the audience going. Guitarist and vocalist Laura-Mary Carter was captivating and created some incredible noise from her guitar – perhaps an unusual selection for Alice in Chains, but a good one nonetheless.

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With minimal fuss the lights went down and Alice in Chains took the stage to now customary chants of Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! from the crowd. Opening with Bleed the Freak they crushed the show from the start. The excitement outside of the venue tonight was noticeable with the biggest queue I’ve seen outside of the Academy for such a long time. That made for a hot, sweaty and crammed venue, which added even more intensity to the show.

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Check My Brain from the first post Layne album was next and shows this band is still as important as it ever was. Yes, Layne is missed still by a lot of the fans but William DuVall is more than up to the job, treats the older stuff with the respect it deserves and harmonises with Jerry perfectly. That was always the strong point of the band, the double harmonies that instantly turned you into a giant goosebump.

That, along with Jerry’s exquisite guitar work.

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Down in a Hole is one of the best examples of that and began a run of songs that tested even the strongest bladders. Anyone hoping for a lull in the set list so they could nip to the loo was in for a disappointment (or an accident). It was an incredible list of songs that when you consider the likes of Angry Chair, Sea of Sorrow and Grind didn’t make the cut shows you how strong the whole catalogue is.

They closed the main set with Man in the Box with William being joined by 2,500 Layne’s on backing vocal duties – it was a euphoric end to an impressive set.

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That took us to the encore, new track The One You Know kicking things off. Fans can begin to get excited, as it really looks promising for the new material if this one is anything to go by. Then the rumbling bassline of Would? began and the whole room collectively lost their minds. It’s one of the anthems of a generation and elicited a reaction you would not believe.

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So imagine being able to follow a song like that with a song like Rooster. The Staley choir sounded incredible again for this filling the spaces that William left for them and brought to an end one of the best shows we’ll see all year, and for those lucky enough a perfect appetiser for the Pearl Jam gigs in London next week.

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See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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