KING DIAMOND – Gröna Lund, Stockholm – 25th July

Old Robert Zimmerman once sang “The times they are a-changin'” and while I’m aware of that Bob Dylan has fuck O to do with the diamond king, he sure had a point. When I think about the fact that King Diamond, a well-known Satanist who plays a pretty extreme form of heavy metal, had just played Gröna Lund’s big stage makes me smile. Here King Diamond was, playing an amusement park on a summer night where the smell of popcorn, hot dogs and cotton candy lies thick, where children are riding rollercoasters and carousels, where families are strolling around. A contrast of huge, I’d say. When I think back to the days of the 70’s and 80’s, when I went to Gröna Lund for fun, there was no way in Hell someone like King Diamond would play that stage. Sure, both Kiss, Sweet and Runaways played there in the mid 70’s, but only because they were huge at the time in Sweden, but ever since The Sweet tore the place apart, heavy rock bands has been extremely rare there. In the 80’s when W.A.S.P. caused a shit storm at large in Sweden, all hard rock and heavy metal bands were considered dangerous, a guy like King Diamond had problems getting into the country without all hell breaking loose. But nowadays, King Dimond doesn’t even kick up dust and it wasn’t long ago that Slayer stood on the same stage. For people half my age, the fact that King Diamond played an amusement park might not be a big deal at all, but to me and many people my age, this is almost surreal.

I have been a fan of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond for a long, long time, but I have managed to miss every damn concert King has played in my country. But all that was changed last year when Sweden Rock Festival booked him. He played a brilliant show there that really impressed me, both musically and visually, so that I would catch this gig as well was a no-brainer. That said, I had some high expectations with the SRF gig in mind. His backing band of Andy LaRoque and Mike Wead on guitars, drummer Matt Thompson and his wife Livia Zita on backing vocals was the same as at SRF, but bass player Hal Patino had left band due to internal fighting over God knows what. His place was taken by Pontus Egberg from The Poodles, who only had four days to learn the repertoire. Damn impressing when you think about the fact that King Diamond’s music is quite tricky to play. Egberg did a brilliant job and I hope he was offered to join the Diamond band permanently after this show. He opened up the show kicking and screaming with “The Candle” (Fatal Portrait, 1986) and “Sleepless Nights” from 1989’s Conspiracy and by then he had already won. The sound was sharp and the band was tight as hell and “Welcome Home” from Them, 1988 and “Never Ending Hill” from his latest and very underrated album Give Me Your Soul… Please (2007) were both astonishing. And who can really resist “The Puppet Master”? What a killer. When you have as many great songs to choose from as King Diamond has, the idea to do a medley is a really good one and the medley of “Tea” / “Dreams” / Digging Graves” / “A Visit From The Dead” went down like a charm before they got to the part of the show many had waited for: The Mercyful Fate section. I know that this was a King Diamond gig, but to judge by the reaction of the crowd, “Evil” (Melissa, 1983) and the amazing “Come To The Sabbath” (Don’t Break The Oath, 1984) should have had company by a few more oldies from the Mercyful Fate days. The same can be said of the album The Eye (1990). Not only is it my favourite King Diamond album, but the reaction “Eye Of The Witch” got, many of the punters would probably agree with me on that one. The Mercyful Fate tunes and “Eye Of The Witch” got the biggest roars from the crowd this night.

“The Family Ghost” and “Black Horsemen” created quite a stir as well and when “Cremation” that led to the outro “Insanity” finishing the show, I think we were all satisfied by a brilliant gig by Kim Bendix Pedersen and his band. It’s pretty hard to put on a show like King Diamond has, where a lot of horror is involved, on a bright summer night, but somehow they got away with it. It is also crystal clear that Alice Cooper is a huge (as in HUGE!) influence when it comes to the theatrics and many of the gimmicks on stage could very well have been taken from a Cooper show. To be honest, I can hear Alice Cooper in the music as well, only not as apparent. Well, well, every musician is influenced by others, so no big deal. Let’s just concentrate on the fact that King Diamond put on a killer show, played some amazing songs, his band is awesome and the King himself can still hit all those high notes. Which is bloody impressing as the guy is 58 years old. Also, kudos to the whole band, including King, to show up at the after party, arranged by Deep Cut Productions, to mingle, have a beer or five and talk to the people there. No egos where brought to the party, apparently. Whenever this lot plays a place near you, go and see them.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Setlist:

1. The Candle
2. Sleepless Nights
3. Welcome Home
4. Never Ending Hill
5. Let It Be Done
6. The Puppet Master
7. At The Graves
8. Medley:
a) Tea
b) Dreams
c) Digging Graves
d) A Visit From The Dead
9. Evil
10. Come To The Sabbath
11. Shapes Of Black
12. Eye Of The Witch
13. The Family Ghost
14. Black Horsemen
15. Cremation
16. Outro: Insanity

 

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