Considering the recent weather, torrential rain and strong winds, I really didn’t fancy queuing outside for long if it was going to be typical Manchester weather. Luckily the rain held off and I was outside The Academy at about 7:00pm. Finding ‘a’ queue wasn’t fun. A huge trench had been dug in the pavement and instead of the usual boards covering the gap they’d just put barricades along the full length of it. It also didn’t help that there was a vast amount of people outside the main student union building for another gig, or two. Long and short of it I’d joined the wrong queue. This was eventually pointed out to us by a man shouting for tickets who seemed either drunk, or high, or both so his first announcement fell on deaf ears. A group of us left the queue, which was the ticket collection queue, and walked past the front doors and around the side of the building to where the buses were parked, to the end of the real queue.
It is kind of saddening that you have to be searched before you enter these places. We’re all there to listen to the music and see the band surely? Possibly some aren’t. They’ll have airport style security next.
The audience certainly seemed about the same age as me, maybe older. I bought Dirt back in early 1993 after Kerrang! magazine voted it album of 1992.
The support act was a woman on guitar and vocals and a bloke on drums. Even now I don’t know who they were. You’d think they’d say “we’re The Support Band, goodnight” at the end of their set.
With only a mic stand and a small drum kit to remove from the stage the change over should have been really quick. At least that’s what I thought. I wonder if someone keeps a list of the amount of times a microphone is checked by a roadie?
- Set List
- It Ain't Like That
- Them Bones
- Dam That River
- Your Decision
- No Excuses
- Check My Brain
- A Looking In View
- Rain When I Die
- Heaven Beside You
- Got Me Wrong
- Black Gives Way To Blue
- What The Hell Have I
- Acid Bubble
- Angry Chair
- Man In The Box
After what seemed like forever the stage lights lit the audience and a cameraman pointed a video camera across the crowd. Then the lights went back to the way they were before, lighting the stage for the roadies to do their job, checking microphones and shining torches on cables. The sight of two members of the road crew with their elbows resting on speaker stacks didn’t bode well at all. The crowd, growing increasingly restless, started booing and slow clapping and for a minute I thought that the show wasn’t going to happen. Then, at about 9:30pm, because I kept checking my watch, after what felt like forever, the band walked on stage.
After Layne died this is something that I never thought I’d see, Alice In Chains playing these incredible songs live. Highlights? Again, Them Bones (during which I almost lost it completely), Check My Brain, all the heavier stuff. Whenever Jerry stood centre stage everyone shouted his name. William sang and played guitar like he was born to do it. The only slow spots were the acoustic, barstool songs. Black Gives Way To Blue was so quiet that I’m sure people talking in the crowd was louder. There was a huge cheer at the end when a really short black and white video clip of Layne was played. It was just the right length and exactly what was needed, fresh faced, long curly haired, smiling and giving the peace sign.
With the technical difficulties, and the curfew, we won’t know if they would have played more songs.
William really did a great job, fitting in like the role was always his. Certainly big boots to fill but I think the crowd, like I was, was just pleased to hear those songs again. Like the man said, “This is just the beginning!”.
Somebody check my brain.