ROCK / Heavy on the relish: Alice in Chains - Town & Country

ALICE IN Chains are a full-on heavy metal act - they can't be satisfactorily laundered as 'grunge rock' on the strength of a rogue plaid shirt like the opening act, the Screaming Trees, or because they come from near Seattle. Alice in Chains have made their name by rocking hard and heavy. With only two albums in the bag, they've come on magnificently from being the perennially ignored support act playing doomy tunes from Facelift 200 times a year, to being America's latest stadium rock monsters playing doomy tunes from Facelift and the three million-selling album Dirt.

At 9.45pm they came on magnificently again. The white sheet hiding the stage was suddenly animated by three giant silhouettes, two of which were headbanging like billy-o to the Titanic rock riff of 'Dam That River'. After a tantalising 30 seconds the cloth fell, the capacity crowd punched the air and we were off. The Donington spirit was alive and well: badly dressed people slurping pints and screaming along, wiggling their fingers over air guitars and enjoying themselves without inhibition.

Frontman Layne Staley, with his shades, lumpy face and bold grip on the microphone stand is not only a dead ringer for Bono, he matches him for sheer projection too - both personality-wise and vocal. 'Scary's on the wall / Scary's on his way,' he yodelled in 'We Die Young', before completing the opening trilogy of despair with an excellent 'Them Bones'.

The American author Donna Gaines, in Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids, chronicled the lives of teenage 'burn-outs' who listen to metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Slayer and embrace morbidity in the face of a future without prospects. Alice in Chains have taken over as the definitive 'burn out' band.

Their mission, as everyone with controversial material claims these days, is to stir up difficult feelings for analysis. They despatched their catchiest track 'Would?' early in the set and got down to the serious business of Dirt. 'Junkhead' was a pure celebration of heroin-user attitude while for 'God Smack' (message: smack can dominate you), Staley adopted a foetal position and switched to Johnny Rotten rant-mode. Drummer Sean Kinney, who spent a lot of the time standing so as to reach all his cymbals, and lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell were perfect throughout, meticulously controlling the tempo which, for the most part, lurched restlessly between mid and slow. Their music pulls two ways: it's cumulatively depressing, but turned up very loud this stripped-down rock of hard drumming, mean guitars and rough harmonies becomes a riot. Alice in Chains like dramatic monologues - 'Rooster' is Rambo gibberish, 'Love, Hate, Love' shows the teenager in love-hate-love. 'I' is the subject of every sentence, so given the narrow focus it was no surprise that they wound up with their blunt paradox of pathology 'Hate To Feel'.

The encore was 'Man In The Box' - a disgusting ditty about being buried alive. Or rather, this being a band where affects are more important than FX, about feeling buried alive. As the satisfied fans streamed out into the night air, no one could deny that in their own perverse way Alice In Chains had got the feelgood factor just right.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Arts and Entertainment
Crowd control: institutions like New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are packed

Art
Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices