King Diamond played the Orpheum – 11/24

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Danish heavy metal lifer King Diamond descended upon Boston’s Orpheum with his eponymous band last week for a show that promised a front-to-back performance of their 1987 favorite Abigail, along with a sampling of other career highlights. 

My heart sank when I realized that this show would be taking place the same night that Okkervil River would be performing Black Sheep Boy up the street at Royale. Okkervil have been a favorite of mine for years, and Black Sheep Boy is arguably their crowning achievement, so in short, I owed it to my high school self to not miss that show (I’d actually considered going to NYC to see the spectacle before the band announced a limited number of additional dates). On the other hand though, I’ve been looking forward to shooting King Diamond pretty much since I became aware of the existence of King Diamond. Ultimately, I decided to compromise. With both Okkervil and the King hitting the stage a little after 9, I opted to shoot my three songs at the Orpheum and then simply run up the street. Thankfully, the Royale’s proximity to the Orpheum made this pretty manageable, and the plan was mostly successful (though I did apparently miss Will Sheff playing one of my favorites – “Red” – solo at the opening of the Okkervil show).

Up first at the Orpheum were California thrash metal mainstays Exodus, who performed with smiles and headbanging enthusiasm. The group is well over 30 years into its career at this point, and has undergone more lineup changes than many bands would bother to endure, but the current lineup, fronted by vocalist Steve Souza, put on an energetic and enjoyable show. Souza sounded disappointed, on multiple occasions, that moshing would not be possible at the seated Orpheum, but the band prevailed nonetheless.

King Diamond took the stage to the pre-recorded dialog of “Out of the Asylum” – the intro from 1988’s “Them” – and segued into “Welcome Home” while a costumed “Grandma” was wheeled on stage. Abigail would be the focus of the set’s second half, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t room for excerpts from the band’s other long-form horror tales in the first. Just in case the content of the songs themselves wasn’t creepy enough, King’s stage setup consisted of two staircases with a connecting catwalk, flanked by two enormous inverted crosses and a number of gargoyles with a large pentagram in the center of it all, naturally. He emerged with his signature black and white makeup and microphone holster composed of bone, howling in a remarkably on-point falsetto and throwing every bit of theatricality forward for an enthusiastic crowd. Three songs had me longing for more, even as I departed to see a favorite band elsewhere. Here’s to hoping the promised Blu-Ray release documenting this tour does justice to the full set.

Photos from King and Exodus’ sets below.

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