Halloween has always been a very special occasion for those who dwell in the darker side of Heavy Metal. There's just something about that late October moon that always seems to stimulate the senses for many of Metal's "children of the night." But on the eve of this years "night of witches", Chicago's Metal Legions were "treated" to something extremely special, a Halloween visit from the "King" of the macabre himself...KING DIAMOND. It had been nearly three years since KING DIAMOND and crew had "possessed" a Chicago stage. So on Thursday, October 30th at the Metro, area Diamond Bangers were very anxiously awaiting KING DIAMOND'S triumphant return to the Windy City to promote his latest masterpiece, "The Puppet Master."
The "ritual" began with an exceptionally eerie intro entitled "Funeral" from the "classic" 1987 release "Abigail" as KING DIAMOND crept onto the stage and held baby Abigail high above her little white coffin for all the Metro Metal Maniacs to see. King's loyal minions immediately responded wildly as the band proceeded to rip into "A Mansion In Darkness", "The Family Ghost" and an absolutely incredible version of "Black Horsemen", all from that brilliant "Abigail" release. KING DIAMOND'S totally unique and unmistakable voice was in top form on this "special occasion" and he completely mesmerized the Metro throng during "Mansion In Sorrow" and "Spirits", two songs from last year's heretic, "Abigail II: The Revenge."
The sinfully talented lead-guitar duo of Andy LaRocque and Mike Weed effortlessly amazed everyone with their relentless shredding expertise throughout the set and especially during titles such as "Eye of the Witch" and "Sleepless Nights." KING DIAMOND has always been known to surround himself with the best musicians in the business and bassist Hal Patino and drummer Matt Thompson are no exception. Their monstrous rhythm section, along with the merciless twin guitar attack provided by LaRocque and Weed, without question form one of the tightest bands in the Metal music industry today.
As always, King's set was loaded with all kinds of "spooky" stage props, special effects and character actors to further enhance the dark atmosphere captured within the music. The use of female vocals provided a new "trick" for this Halloween "treat" as the band executed several songs from KING DIAMOND'S most resent horror story, "The Puppet Master." And of course, Grandma made an appearance in her wheelchair during the song "Welcome Home" before King "nailed down the coffin" with "The Uninvited Guest" (Uninvited Guest) from 1988's "Them."
But KING DIAMOND'S fans were by no means ready to end this unforgettable "nightmare." One of the truly amazing aspects about this metallic theatrical spectacle was the hysterically enthusiastic response continually shown by King's loyal fans throughout the entire evening. This was no more evident than during King's three highly anticipated and immensely appreciated encores. King first unleashed a haunting rendition of "Burn" from the album "The Eye" which instantaneously catapulted the crowd into orbit! Then the Metro Metal Masses went totally ballistic on KING DIAMOND'S second return as the band blazed flawlessly through the obvious song of the evening, "Halloween" from King's 1986 release "Fatal Portrait." At this point, the Diamond Bangers weren't just screaming, they were...SCREAMING from the top of their lungs! I have rarely heard a louder response from Chicago's Metal Warriors, than the one I heard on that unbelievable night. And for that overwhelming sign of appreciation, KING DIAMOND returned to the stage one more time, this time dressed in a Santa Clause outfit to finally conclude with the holiday classic "No Presents For Christmas."
Quotes like, "That was one of the best concerts I've EVER seen" and "That was freakin' awesome" were common as I talked to Metalheads leaving the venue. It was unquestionably, one of the most entertaining Metal music performances in Chicago for the year 2003. Let's just hope we won't have to wait nearly three more years to witness another remarkable performance like that one. Hail to the "King" and of course...Stay Heavy!