King Diamond brought his “The Institute North American Tour 2019” to the Palace Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s been four years since the last North American tour and his loyal fan base was ready to see the shock rocker take to the stage. Before the theatrics started, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats along with Idle Hands provided support for the night.
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Idle Hands, would take the stage first. They released their debut full-length album ‘Mana’ earlier this year. Musically they blended metal, classic hard rock, goth and post punk to create songs that were pretty straightforward with catchy choruses and hard driving melodies. The band spent most of the night in dim back lit lighting and didn’t have much engagement with the crowd as they let the music speak for itself. This was their first trip to St. Paul and it was a great opportunity for them to introduce themselves and show people what they are all about.
The psychedelic doom rockers, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, struck next. The music, along with the psychedelic images being projected behind them, mesmerized my senses and it felt like the music pulled me into a trance. The groove of the songs wrapped me up and throughout the eight-song set I found myself being absorbed by it. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a band like them live as they channeled a trippy 60’s and 70’s vibe that combined a sense of evil with an uplifting feeling of happiness. They didn’t have much interaction with the crowd and chose to utilize every second of their time to wash the crowd over with their sound. From the opening song “I’ll Cut You Down” to the closing track “13 Candles,” Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats kept people engaged by their addicting sound.
The lights dropped and the curtains opened to reveal a brilliant stage. It depicted an old haunted mental institution that served as the backdrop for the story of King Diamond’s new upcoming album called ‘The Institute.’ The story revolves around an institutionalized girl that is tormented by the demons in her mind. Throughout the night, with the use of an actor, we see her struggles play out on stage. King Diamond entered the stage through a door marked with the number nine and a hooded servant pushing him on a hospital bed. As “St. Lucifer’s Hospital” played in the background, his band made their way down the staircases. The set opened with “The Candle” and then into “Behind These Walls” as King Diamond, with his signature black and white corpse paint and microphone made out of bones in a shape of a cross, moved across the stage to sea of cell phone grabbing video of the iconic singer. Fans got a double dose of songs from ‘Abigail’ as “Arrival and “A Mansion In Darkness” followed two servants pushing the coffin of the stillborn Abigail on to the stage for him to perform a ritualistic murder of her spirit.
The set rolled by quickly as “Voodoo,” “Halloween,” and “Welcome Home” made the list. King Diamond’s newest song “Masquerade Of Madness” was played and it was great to hear something new from him. One thing that can be easily overlooked with all the visuals on stage is just how impressive the sound of the band was. It was made up of drummer Matt Thompson, bassist Pontus Egberg, and a twin guitar attack of Mike Wead and longtime musical companion Andy LaRocque. They were flawless and the sonic thunder they poured into the theatre showcased how powerful the music is. Vocally King Diamond didn’t miss a beat. That high-pitched delivery, just like his make-up, is his signature and nobody sounds like him. Perched up on the second floor of the stage was back-up singer Livia Zita and she provided some haunting harmonies that gave another texture to the vocal attack. The encore included “Burn” and the “Black Horsemen” which was dedicated to Timi Hansen, who recently passed away from cancer. He played bass in Mercyful Fate from 1981 to 1985 and again in 1992 to 1993. He also had a stint in King Diamond from 1985 to 1987. The crowd gave a tremendous response in tribute to him and the band roared through the closing song, which capped off an incredible set. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from their show. There is nothing quite like a theatrical metal show and not many can do it better than King Diamond and I enjoyed every minute of it.