Fun Fun Fun Fest With King Diamond Auditorium Shores, Austin Saturday, November 8, 2014
King Diamond was not messing around with his stage setup at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin. The headlining set for the Black Stage on Saturday night, it came complete with gates on the front of the stage, neon inverted crosses, and a large baphomet symbol behind the band. King Diamond's music has always been about concept and theatre, and Fest goers were treated to visuals the likes of which they will not soon forget. Before "Welcome Home," King forebodingly asked the crowd, "Do you guys want to meet my grandma?" After a raucous approval, King wheeled out a disfigured old hag who flailed about for the duration of the song.
And then it was time to introduce his band. "Please welcome drummer Matt Thompson from Denton, Texas," King Diamond announceed. The crowd, apparently oblivious to the local connection, stayed silent. "It's, uh, a little north of Dallas," he added. Then the crowd went wild.
Despite starting in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1985, heavy metal legend King Diamond's lineup has undergone numerous changes over the years. The band has been a veritable revolving door of personnel. But while its legendary frontman, also of Mercyful Fate fame, originally hails from Europe, he has made the Dallas suburbs his home for the last 20 years.
King Diamond's relationship with the city runs deep. In addition to using local musicians such as Thompson to play with the band live, he has also used the city as the site for much of the band's studio activity. The band's last album, Give Me Your Soul... Please, released in 2007, was actually recorded at the Nomad Recording Studio in Carrollton. Guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead, who both still reside in Sweden, have stated in past interviews that they come to Dallas to work with King on band matters.
Until this most recent tour, which wrapped up at Fun Fun Fun Fest, King Diamond's most recent performance was a surprise three-song set at Trees in 2012. The band's performance this past weekend, first at the House of Blues in Dallas on Thursday followed by Fun Fun Fun Fest on Saturday, served as a de facto homecoming show for the revered frontman.
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Almost all of the band's releases are concept albums that tell a specific story, but with King Diamond it is not enough to simply hear his music; you need to see it, as well. For "Shapes of Black," for instance the lights were turned off entirely and people dressed in black body suits huddled around King, who sat in the middle of the stage holding an old lantern as if he was holding on for dear life. King Diamond's music has been so transcendent primarily because of King's lyrics and eye for creativity. Very few heavy metal bands can say their work borders on literary. King Diamond's can.
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To open the encore, King Diamond decided to put grandma to rest. They forced her into a casket and brought out a priest and a mortician to conduct a cremation. While the priest recited the last rites, King lurked around him like a demonic entity. After the rites were delivered, grandma was incinerated and the casket was opened to reveal a couple of bones and some ashes (which from my vantage point smelled eerily like cupcakes). Best of all was the band's inclusion of two songs of King's former band, Mercyful Fate, both "Evil" and "Come To The Sabbath."
When we think of metal and Dallas, we usually think about Pantera as the legendary act from the city. Often times, we don't even consider King Diamond as a part of the Dallas scene. We should start rethinking that. He has been here for two decades. Over half of King Diamond's catalogue has been released while King has been living here. He records his vocals here. The band comes to Dallas to work with him. The reality is that King Diamond is, for all intents and purposes, a Dallas band more than it is a Copenhagen band in 2014. So for those in attendance at Fun Fun Fun Fest this weekend, they got the chance to welcome King back home.
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