Well, after all of my whining and searching for someone to accompany me to the Palladium last night, I was actually grateful for the solace amongst the hoards. Something came over me as I got out of my car upon my arrival last night. It was still light out, but I felt as if the entire sky had gone black. I was not depressed or morose, but just… quiet. It was as if attending this show was to be some sort of closure for me. At least that is the way I began to feel as I crossed the parking lot. I didn't mind that I would be taking in this performance alone. It would give me the time to be alone with my feelings among hundreds of others who, undoubtedly, would be feeling some semblance of the same ones.
While walking towards the entrance, I realized that I had at least chosen the right thing to wear. Comfortable, familiar jeans, a tight black cotton top, and platform sandals. It seemed that the majority of concert goers were wearing at least one denim item and one black one. It felt eerie in a way. As if seeing Jerry Cantrell was a way to have one more chance to feel as close to Layne Staley – may he rest in peace – as possible, yet still respect Jerry's talents as an artist and celebrate his obvious contributions to Alice in Chains And acknowledge and validate his solo status for the second time. (This tour is promoting the pending release Degradation Trip.) Wearing black just seemed like the right thing to do.
Default, a lesser-known Creed/Nickelback hybrid, were working the crowd when I stepped inside. I chose to put my energies on reserve and take a seat upstairs in the “VIP balcony”. (I really hate the Palladium for all it's elitist bullshit.) Anyway, Default was easy on the ears, but nothing that would make me run out and buy it. The industry-ites surrounding me were too busy chatting each other up and calling the entire world on their cell phones to pay any attention. The crowd seemed supportive and enthusiastic for the openers though, which was nice to hear. That's all too rare in this city.
As Default ended their set, I decided I would escape the rude and way too loud chatter of the balcony and descend the stairs and find myself a place on the venue floor amongst the true music fans that were actually there for the show and not to work or schmooze and booze. The sound was better there – at least as good as it gets in that cavernous, shithole dive – and I was afforded a much better view of Jerry and his bandmates, thanks to the platform sandals and my 6-foot stature. (My apologies to the two short, preppy girls who were loathe to stand behind me.)
The band opened strong and heavy. With 3 guitarists and a bass player, how could you not? Jerry was willowy and much thinner than I remember, with the same signature, long and baby-fine blonde hair and a [much-preferred] clean shaven face. Clad in well-worn denim jeans that didn't quite cling to his little legs, and a button-down denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up, he assumed the position and got down to business. They rocked and they rocked hard.
Much to the enjoyment of the crowd – who emphatically shouted “Jer-RY! Jer-RY! Jer-RY!” between songs until he finally replied with “That's my name, don't wear it out.” – there were a lot of songs played from the first Cantrell release, Boggy Depot, and just a couple from the upcoming disc.
Jerry shared the spotlight with his bandmates giving special recognition of his touring lead guitarist and backing vocalist who did an incredible job while singing Layne's parts on “Down In A Hole” and “Them Bones” during the final moments of the set. Admittedly, during “Down In A Hole” I felt my eyes welling up and several warm, quiet tears spilling down my cheeks. It was a moment that consumed the entire audience. Some shouted and smiled in celebration, some sang along, and some just stood and listened, and I'm sure that some felt that urge to release emotions the way I did. Jerry Cantrell, Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin all displayed amazing talent and professionalism during their unforgettable set at the Palladium last night.
My apologies for not being able to give my assessment of Nickelback's performance. I silently left the building after seeing one of the most moving performances I've witnessed to date. I just wanted to leave with the sound of it still ringing in my ears.
– lesa at unearthed dot com
Special thanks to my beautiful Ganja Girl for the opportunity. Long live Roadrunner Records.