||KING DIAMOND REIGNS SUPREME AT THE FORUM WITH NOT A CEMENT MIXER IN SIGHT
Kentish Town Forum, London, 21st June 2016
Philip Welford: Photos by Sean Cameron
Last night's King Diamond gig was the hottest ticket this side of Hades as thousands of fans from all over the world descended upon The Forum to witness Metal monarchy at its mightiest with a highly anticipated resurrection of their 1987 opus, 'Abigail'.
The guest list was a who's who of Top of the Goths from Dani Filth to Orange Goblin and so it came to pass in a sold out, sweaty, corpse make-up melting Forum that King Diamond reigned supreme.
The stage production was epic with gargoyles, inverted crosses, stained glass windows, a ghostly mansion set and lighting that would have made even Lloyd Webber jealous.
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Influential NWOBHM band Angel Witch were the support band, making it a real value for money package. With a career that dates back longer than that of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, tonight was a lesson in true Heavy Metal for many of the younger audience.
The venue was already rammed by the time Angel Witch came on stage with the band members dressed in black and dwarfed by the mammoth Angel Witch logo on the black curtain behind them. Vocalist and guitarist Kevin Heybourne is the sole original member and only bassist Will Palmer remains from the 2012 comeback album 'As Above, So Below'.
The bulk of their set came from their classic eponymous debut and the audience was lapping up the biting head slicers such as 'White Witch', the menacing 'Angel Of Death', the 'Metal For Mutha's' gem of 'Baphomet' and their signature tune 'Angel Witch', complete with raised voices from the crowd which must have been the largest audience that Angel Witch have ever played in front of in their home town since keeping Iron Maiden in the shadows at the Camden Music Machine 37 years ago.
For a band that were once reported as sounding "like Black Sabbath's first album through a cement mixer", Angel Witch knocked 'em dead tonight with a concrete performance.
And as the lights went down for King Diamond, discordant keyboards tinkled ominously, corpse Granny was wheeled out and 'Welcome Home' had everyone out of their seats with Devil horns' aloft. As the band slowly made their way into this eerie stage setting and their first notes reverberated around The Forum, Metal mayhem was unleashed upon the adoring masses. Diamond announced his arrival with a vibrato operetta style scream that lulled us like sirens and from that moment on, we were spellbound.
Diamond's falsetto was in full, spine tingling flow and his operatic range never better. Screeching, howling and serenading the pit of hypnotised subjects before him, the King led this expedition through dark Metal history effortlessly, 'Sleepless Nights' flowing seamlessly into 'Halloween' from his debut album, 'Fatal Portrait' as heads banged and fists pounded the air.
Smoke poured and lights exploded as the King paraded across the stage with his cross of bones microphone, the crowd by now fully entranced, screaming like banshees to the lyrics to 'Eye Of The Witch'.
The lights dimmed as the first haunting notes of Mercyful Fate's 'Mellissa' echoed in our bewitched skulls and led seamlessly into 'Come To The Sabbath'. I don't know about the just the Sabbath, we'd have followed this beautiful monster of man and his music into Hell itself!
Then the moment was here - 'Abigail', Diamond's debut concept album from 1987 played in it's entirety for the first time ever in the UK.
From the purple lit back drop, the small, white coffin was presented to the accompaniment of a cacophony of demonic voices and the band exploded into 'Arrival'.
The master of musical horror took my trembling hand and led me on a terrifying behemoth of a journey of blood, possession, reincarnation, death and fear.
A modern even faster, heavier sound spewed forth as 'Abigail' in her glorious entirety was re-born nearly 30 years after her original conception. The towering vocals soaring and falling, power chord after power chord, the almost angelic counter backing vocals and a backbeat that can only be described as colossal accompanied this roller coaster of a Metal tale.
'Arrival' had the crowd chanting and as the fateful wife comes onto stage with her lantern there's more method acting than a De Niro soliloquy. Two guitar Metal rivalry ensues as the story of this opus plays out over a mansion in darkness and as always with King Diamond the set completely reflects the song.
'The Family Ghost' plays out the next scene as Miriam our protagonist wanders the stage heavily pregnant and as she takes her tumble on the stairs, the fist punching is through the roof as is the octave range of Diamond who by now has warmed up so much to peak and his vocals are now soaring into the F sharp range. Hairs on the backs of our sweaty necks are standing to attention.
Thank God for the acoustic start of 'The 7th Day Of July 1777' which takes us back down to ground zero for a bit. The red lights lull us in and then, BAM! Another brutal full Metal assault. Soaring solos from every band member and the demise of Miriam ensues.
'As Omens' kicks in, as do the massive ear blistering high notes and it's hot as Hell and everyone in the balcony is out of their seats desperate to join the manic mosh downstairs. The band is at their Metal best with Diamond directing like a crazy corpse conductor. Synthesised choirs fill the forum and the baby's crib is smoking – this is more dramatic than Game Of Thrones. With more plots than an Eastenders Omnibus (or zombiebus) the story of 'Abigail' is unfolding.
By now the Forum is frenzied and King Diamond takes a minute to thank us by announcing: "This London crowd is fucking amazing!!. This is for you!" Title track 'Abigail' kicks in and the demented, mad Miriam is back on stage – the demons of her stillborn baby have taken over and possessed her as she roams the mansion set with dramatic nods to Macbeth. This really is Metal Shakespeare as its best. Pitch perfect vocals from King Diamond and a note that I've never heard before finish this song.
'Black Horsemen' is up next and as the acoustic beginning broods and builds we know that we are in for a treat. As the set culminates so does the tale of our protagonist and thus our tale ends and it's definitely not a happily ever after.
And as outro 'Insanity' rings out its last chords and King Diamond screams out his last notes, the crowd are on their feet and chanting deliriously. As the lights dim for the last time, the standing ovation is insane and the band deservedly lap up their moment of glory. With more theatrics than Phantom Of The Opera, more vocal range that Mariah Carey, more spinetingling moments than Paranormal Activity, this was the best show we've seen in a long time.
Demented, twisted and jawdropping.
Long live the King!
Rest in peace Abigail, at least until the next time... (mwah, ha, ha..)