Academy 1, Manchester
11th Nov 2013
To those who didn’t make it to tonight’s gig early, more fool you. You missed Walking Papers.
Who are they? Jeff Angell and Ben Anderson (of The Missionary Position) on vocals and keys. Barrett Martin (of Screaming Trees) on drums. And, Duff McKagan of Guns ‘N… Well you know who he is. It’s a Seattle affair.
Why you might have missed them; they’re still a bit of a new band as they formed only last year. Their self titled debut album only dropped last month, and the fact that they were opening up wasn’t really pushed heavily.
Why you shouldn’t have missed them; they absolutely nailed it. For those along to see “Duff McKagan’s new band”, they instead saw a unified band not defined by one person, but by the talent that drives them as a group. Front man Jeff Angell made rock ’n’ roll look smooth again. This wasn’t a man “playing” at being a rock star. He was up there, feeling every word and note as he dragged his mic stand down the fret board of his guitar.
Their sound; somewhere between nineties grunge and the heavier end of indie, saw songs from their debut album along with a few new ones not yet recorded, and won over those who had the good sense to move a little closer to the stage. Jeff rounded off the set by climbing the barriers to go and sing with the crowd further back, taking what seemed to be the world’s longest mic lead.
Next up were Swedish outfit, Ghost, who really require no introduction. Black cloaks, skull make-up and religious imagery all speak for themselves on stage, and tonight brought fans out in their droves to see singer Papa Emeritus II and his band, or as they’re known; Nameless Ghouls.
Here’s the thing about Ghost; it seems like regardless of their obvious talent, they’re one of those bands that you either “get”, or you don’t. They’re impossible to completely pigeonhole in terms of music style, with dark themes, and obvious Seventies heavy metal influence.
Tonight was no different. It was impossible to deny that in the finer details, they were anything short of brilliant, but it seemed that the crowd was split into two camps; those who absolutely loved it, and those who didn’t care. Those who loved it made up a large proportion. I found myself in the “I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t get it” camp.
What works for Ghost, though, was that even those who weren’t really into it couldn’t fight the urge to at least watch. They put out a solid performance and definitely won’t be forgotten easily.
And finally, to a rapturous and packed Academy, Alice in Chains took to the stage and tore Manchester a new one. Opening with ‘Again’, followed quickly by ‘Check My Brain’, they wasted no time at all in warming up and getting the room moving. Note for note, Jerry Cantrell was on fire both vocally and on his guitar.
Front man William DuVall threw everything he had at the crowd, his voice fantastically suited to work with these well-known songs. As the room reached scorching levels, ‘Chains only ramped it up, firing through classics like ‘Man in the Box’ and ‘We Die Young’ with enthusiasm and synchronicity that would put some younger bands to shame.
A rendition of the fantastic ‘Would?’ saw not a single voice in the room stay silent, the infamous cry of lyrics at the end of the song becoming almost a tribute to members lost, and a pledge of allegiance to the guys in front of them, before finishing a blinding encore with the fantastic ‘Rooster’.
For all the naysayers who will continue to passionately claim that they’ll never be the same since the untimely passing of vocalist Layne Stayley, this gig was the antidote. Yes, they’ll never be the same, but what they were tonight was something special. These guys are just so good at what they do, and they’ll be damned if anyone is going to tell them they shouldn’t.
All words by Kat Ball. More writing by Kat on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive.