It’s time for another concert recap, this time I’m going back to 2005 when I went to see one of metal’s legends live. It was my first and to date only time seeing him. The tour was supported by 3 bands that have gone on to become bigger names in the extreme metal community. There were also some snags getting to the show that led to a less than optimal experience, at least for a moment.
The show took place in April 2005 and the lineup was King Diamond with Nile, The Black Dahlia Murder and Behemoth as support. The show was at Pop’s, a large club on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River in St. Louis. It’s one of those bars that only closes down for an hour to clean up or whatever, but is the perfect size to host gigs.
At the time I lived about 100 miles from St. Louis. I was heading to the show on my own. Several friends of mine were covering a greater distance from the other side of the state (where I live now). We met up on the way and I parked my car and rode with the group.
On the way we got snarled in a large traffic jam due to a semi trailer wreck. It took a lot longer than usual to make the trek and would cost us the chance to see the opening band. When we got to the venue I had it in my head that The Black Dahlia Murder was playing first, but I was crestfallen to find that Behemoth was the one almost done with their set. I was very much looking forward to seeing Behemoth whereas I was indifferent about TBDM at the time. I think we got to see maybe two songs from Behemoth and it was a bit of a downer. But there was still plenty of metal to go.
The Black Dahlia Murder came up next. I wasn’t very familiar with them at the time and I was a bit peeved that I didn’t get to see Behemoth. Not TBDM’s fault, of course, but I wasn’t fully vested in their set. I spent time milling around and catching up with the large number of friends who made the trek to the concert. My memories are a bit muddled from attending too many shows over the years but I believe I’ve seen them at least one other time since then and gave more attention to their performance. Still they played on and have made quite the name for themselves in the years since this show.
Nile took the stage after The Black Dahlia Murder. By 2005 Nile was already a hot commodity on the death metal circuit. They were the band that essentially brought the genre back into public attention after a lull in the late 90’s. Their brand of Egyptian-themed death metal along with technical and symphonic elements had put the world on notice. This concert was a month ahead of the release of their Annihilation Of The Wicked album.
Nile had plenty of material by this time for their direct support slot. They had established themselves with now-classic albums Black Seeds Of Vengeance and In Their Darkened Shrines. The upcoming album Annihilation… would only add to their epic death metal legacy. Nile’s stage show was a no-frills presentation with mainman/guitarist Karl Sanders pausing between songs to set samples for the next tune. It stood out in contrast to the theatrical nature of King Diamond and also Behemoth, but Nile’s music brought the goods and did not require an elaborate stage set to keep up with their tour mates. The crowd was full of more old-guard metal types there to see King who might not have taken to the more extreme nature of Nile’s music but I noticed that most of the group was into the set. It was in this time that the old guard and new of metal put up a united front and offered a diverse array of touring packages that didn’t try to nitpick subgenres or suit the tastes of one segment of fans. It was all hands on deck for heavy metal’s resurgence in this time frame.
After Nile exited the stage things were set up for the main event. King Diamond had made a career of theatrics and was going to put on a splendid set. A large fence that aped the appearance of wrought iron was put up and of course plenty of fog would churn out through the performance.
King Diamond’s twin guitar attack would feature his longtime compatriot Andy LaRocque as well as Mike Weir, who had been with King both solo and in Mercyful Fate for several years. LaRocque was a world renowned guitarist and producer with a fistful of credits to his name but his main gig has often always been with King Diamond.
By this point in time King Diamond had 11 studio albums recorded so his set would hit upon several of his works. The Puppet Master was his most recently recorded effort from 2 years prior, a few of those songs were interspersed with works from his classics like Abigail, Conspiracy and Them. While King Diamond doesn’t have a signature “hit” per se, the track Welcome Home from Them might serve that station and was aired that night.
King Diamond was in fine form on stage that night, his signature falsetto ringing out bright and clear. He made plenty of time for banter between songs, referencing that he had not played in St. Louis in many years and was happy to be back. He would often call the city “San Louis” which fit his exotic persona. The haunting backdrop with the fence and fog perfectly created Halloween in April.
King and the band would air out a few Mercyful Fate tunes during the retrospective set. Come To The Sabbath and Evil saw time that night. The set hit the highlights of King’s career while also giving a bit of time to more recent tunes from Abigail II and the aforementioned Puppet Master. It left the crowd happy to have seen one of metal’s legends grace the stage in St. Louis again.
Time would go on to be kind to the acts featured on stage that night. Nile would continue their dominant run through death metal, while Behemoth and The Black Dahlia Murder have gone on to become two of the hottest tickets in metal today. King Diamond would release one more album in 2007 before a serious health scare stalled his career for a few years. He has since returned to the touring circuit and is planning a new studio record. He has also reunited Mercyful Fate, though their touring plans were cut short by the pandemic.
It was very nice to see King Diamond that night, it has to date been my only time seeing him in concert in any form. I have since seen both Behemoth and The Black Dahlia Murder again, but haven’t had the occasion to catch Nile again. It was a shame to miss Behemoth’s set that night due to traffic but the rest of the show more than made up for it.