Alice in Chains @ DTE Energy Music Theatre, 9/17/10


Set 18 2010, 14:11

Fri 17 Sep – Alice in Chains, Deftones, Mastodon

There's a lot to say going in to an Alice in Chains show. How much greater it could have been if Layne Staley were there in William DuVall's place, how predictable the setlist is, rarely anything positive. That being said, the fact of the matter will always be to me that it's a miracle we're still here seeing the band to this day, when they could have easily given up and died when Staley left us. And honestly, people can feel free to disagree with me, but I truly do believe Black Gives Way to Blue is the best album of 2009 and one of the most pleasantly surprising things I've ever seen musically. So with that in mind, what did I think of this show?

I thought it was one of the best experiences I've ever had at a concert, by far. Was the setlist predictable? For the most part, yes. I'm not expecting to go there and hear Private Hell, but that's a moot point. The crowd was fantastic, even the songs that we all expected to hear were top notch, DuVall and Cantrell were extremely talkative, and it was just a mix of everything you want to see musically.

Naturally, this was the Blackdiamondskye tour, so they were with Mastodon and Deftones. Due to I-75 being fucked up beyond repair, I didn't even get there in time for Mastodon. Deftones I'm not the most familiar with, but I did hear and recognize some of what they had to offer, and it was top notch. Their stage presence was terrific and it was the perfect thing to get you into the mood here. I was particularly surprised that with two bands opening, Alice in Chains while headlining managed to start before 9pm. No complaints there, though. With that, the setlist.

Them Bones
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
Check My Brain
Your Decision
No Excuses
A Looking in View
We Die Young
Lesson Learned
It Ain't Like That

Rotten Apple
Man in the Box

It's important to note that if I know a setlist is going to suck, I don't go to the show. But yes, that came out to 16 songs. 3 from Facelift, 5 from Dirt, 2 from Tripod, 2 from Jar of Flies, and 4 from Black Gives Way to Blue. But yeah, every single show opens with Them Bones anymore, so I expected as much. It's not one of my favorite AiC songs, but what can I say. It's good enough for Dirt, it's definitely good enough for a show. The show more than picked up momentum when Dam That River came on. Again, it's good enough to be the second song on Dirt, it's going to transcend to being amazing in the eyes. I'll also point out: William DuVall has stage presence like a mofo. He's extremely entertaining to watch, listen to, everything. Seeing him and Jerry Cantrell together is a dream.

Rain When I Die came next, and it was pretty damn amazing. At this point you hope they're going to play Down in a Hole next, but of course that never happens. Even though Rain When I Die is six minutes, it feels like only a couple minutes live, it's that good. You wouldn't expect them to be able to reproduce the psychedelia of it, but lo and behold they can, through the ending and all. Again was next, which I wasn't the biggest fan of but was still good stuff. Check My Brain after that, and again, that isn't one of my favorite songs of theirs, but seeing it live makes it a lot better. The band seems extremely fond of that song and even though they stuck exclusively with the singles as far as BGWtB goes, it's certainly a good choice for this.

Here's the thing with Alice in Chains live. Blackdiamondskye is all about some of the heaviest pioneers of rock music out there, but AiC doesn't come all down to that. They've got the melodic stuff where it counts, and Your Decision was perfectly placed for that. The crowd wasn't as into it as it could have been, but I thought it was just something altogether different live. That was just incredible, but perhaps the actual concert's biggest highlight was right after that. No Excuses. I partly expected to hear it, but it was still absolutely incredible to see. The crowd was absolutely outstanding for that, plus honestly, it's always been one of my favorites off Jar of Flies and it's a LOT better live. Not even kidding, it is, DuVall puts something completely different into it.

Next up, Grind, which I expected to hear as well and is a song I'm fond of, moreso than the next one, but A Looking in View next was terrific. Absolutely fucking terrific, second only to No Excuses on this show. Cantrell was absolutely phenomenal on the whole thing, it's just about the longest song here, and just built for a show like this at that place. Brilliant. Next was We Die Young, which was also a total pleasure to hear. If I remember correctly, DuVall announced right beforehand that they were about to play some old shit, and yep, as far as AiC goes, that's as old as it gets. Next was Lesson Learned, which was... decent. I really like that song, but honestly, it wasn't that much greater live, but still, it wasn't bad by any stretch of imagination.

The only song they played all night that I don't really like is It Ain't Like That, but that only seemed to last about two minutes before they moved on to the part that everyone was waiting for. Rooster. It's amazing how well that song wraps up a show like this, and I absolutely loved it here. It's actually one of my least favorite songs on Dirt, but that doesn't even matter, it was mind blowing. The beginning was intercut with images of war, which I didn't even see coming, and DuVall practically let the crowd sing it up to the chorus, which was absolutely beautiful to be a part of. When Cantrell really gets into the riff though, that's where it starts becoming ridiculous fast. Again, one of the best parts of the entire show by far. Whole thing was amazing, although it's one of those songs that just gets better as it goes, and seeing the same thing in the ending as the beginning, which is essentially what Rooster is, was awesome. To make it even better, there was a very slight wait for an encore. Always a pet peeve of mine.

Here's where it gets good. They played fucking Rotten Apple next. I didn't even know they played that song live. What's next, Private Hell? :P That isn't a song designed to be a highlight for a concert like this, but I absolutely adored that. It's a long song, but it's emotional as hell, and you don't expect DuVall to be able to capture that, but he does. But you know what he captures even better? The whole time during a show like this, you're wondering when Man in the Box is going to start. If it's not by the encore, that means it's in the encore. Guarantee it. That was next, and yes, the crowd was absolutely on fire for that. Another total highlight of the show, and seeing the energy of both band and crowd alike at the point of "buried in my shit" is beyond awesome. Just that riff, people. That riff, by itself, is worth millions. Next song was Would?, and everyone knows this is going to be the last song. And it was... pretty damn good. Crowd could have been slightly better except for IF I WOULD, COULD YOU, but damn, what a way to end the show.

This was a 9.5/10 show for me though, at the very least. Setlist was great, not perfect as there was a general lack of Down in a Hole, Angry Chair, and Acid Bubble, but we got A Looking in View, No Excuses, and fucking Rotten Apple out of it, so complaining would simply be asking for too much. Crowd was good, not the best ever, but good, and DuVall closed by saying "Goodbye Detroit, see you next summer", so yeah. Everything's there. Especially DuVall and Cantrell being interactive, which is a very very strong point. I'd say if you're even a moderate Alice in Chains fan, go to this, because it's unforgettable.


  • jpeiper

    Was at the show, and I agree it was great. I will say though, setlist has not always been predictible. They opened with "All Secrets Known" when I saw them at the Aragon in Chicago last March.

    Set 23 2010, 17:24
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