Heavy metal royalty was in town on Tuesday as the Danish legend King Diamond stopped in Montreal as part of ‘The Institute’ tour. The 63-year old singer is still on top of his game, with his trademark falsetto vocals still shrill enough to wake the dead.
The evening started with Idle Hands, whose punkish metal was hampered by a performance that was a little too loose for my taste. Their material was nice, but the singer maybe draws a little too much inspiration from Joey Ramone. They were followed by Uncle Acid and the deadbeats. They were musically much better, and their songs sounded like the late 60’s psychedelic bands mixed in with metal. For some reason, singer Kevin (K.R.) Starrs had his lyrics at his feet, flipping the page with every new song. That affected his stage presence as he stayed close to his mic stand most of the time, looking shoe-gazing with his hair in his face. I believe he also told the crowd at some point to stop talking, which felt weird.
Then came the main event. The show featured a very impressive 3-tiered stage set, larger than anything I’ve ever seen at that venue. The sold out (or close to) crowd was into it right from the start, as the band opened with ‘The Jonah’. King Diamond’s music is of course intrinsically linked to storytelling, and his usual cast of characters (Grandma, Abigail, Miriam, Lula, etc) all made appearances. The show was a bit on the short side at 80 minutes, but King and the band didn’t waste any time. The setlist was mostly focused on his biggest hits, like ‘Burn’, ‘Welcome Home’, ‘The Invisible Guests’, ‘The Black Horsemen’ and ‘Voodoo’, but they made an effort to include some deep cuts like ‘Behind These Walls’ from the ‘Them'” album, and ‘The Lake’, a rare track that was originally the B-side of the ‘Halloween’ single, which also made an appearance.
We also heard the recently released ‘Masquerade of Madness’, the first single from his upcoming album ‘The Institute’. If it’s any indication, we’re in for a treat! It sounds just like vintage King Diamond.
The band was tight, and King Diamond’s vocals are strong as ever, even if he has his wife Livia Zita singing back vocals to strengthen the high register. He struggled a bit with pitch towards the end, which might explain why they’re playing a short setlist, but it shows that he’s stopped smoking after his heart surgery. Healthy living or a deal with the dark side? Who knows why, but he’s performing very well, and hopefully he’ll bring next year’s Mercyful Fate tour to North America. Hail to the King!