Alice in Chains July 18, the Pearl.
Judging by the sold-out crowd at the Pearl on Saturday night, Alice in Chains fans have thoroughly embraced William DuVall as the band’s singer, and he’s been in the band for nearly a decade by now. But it was still a bit jarring when the band opened with “Junkhead,” as DuVall sang raw, revealing lyrics written by late AIC singer Layne Staley about his drug addiction. Staley’s ghost will probably always hang over AIC, and at Saturday’s show, the second of their current tour, they focused mostly on songs from the Staley era, with only five songs from the two albums they’ve released since DuVall joined the band.
That did leave room for some deep cuts from early albums, including “It Ain’t Like That” from 1990 debut Facelift and a beautiful version of “Nutshell” from 1994’s Jar of Flies. DuVall and singer-guitarist Jerry Cantrell harmonize nearly as well as Cantrell and Staley did, and Cantrell is still a fantastic guitar player, breaking out a number of impressive solos. The newer songs fit seamlessly into the set, especially haunting slow burn “Your Decision” and 2009 hit “Check My Brain,” with a riff that rivals anything from the band’s ’90s heyday.
With no opening act and no encore break (“We’ll just stay here and play,” Cantrell explained), the 100-minute show felt a little short, and the audience clearly would have been happy to hear a few more songs. The classics are always important, but AIC has proved over the last several years that their new songs are worthy of a spotlight, too.
“Check My Brain”
“Man in the Box”
“Got Me Wrong”
“Down in a Hole”
“It Ain’t Like That”
“Last of My Kind”
“We Die Young”