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Friday, February 12, 2010

Last Night: Alice in Chains at the Fox Theater

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 9:00 AM

  • Richard Haick

Alice in Chains
Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010
The Fox Theater

Better than: Seeing Alice in Chains in its early-'90s heyday

With Pearl Jam touring and Soundgarden readying a reunion, 2010 is looking like the year that grunge broke through all over again. And barring the unthinkable--a re-formed, Kurt Cobain-less Nirvana--perhaps no band will have traveled a more treacherous or improbable path to this day than Alice in Chains.

  • Richard Haick

​The Seattle quartet took a break after the 2002 overdose death of original lead singer Layne Staley, quietly returning to the road roughly three-and-a-half years ago. The group is now fronted by singer-guitarist William DuVall. Last year, Alice in Chains released Black Gives Way to Blue, its first album of original material since 1995.

There was little doubt that founding guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney could capably reproduce the band's traditional metal sound, which never quite jibed with the more punk-inspired spirit of Nirvana's. But could DuVall replicate Staley's distinctive high-pitched wail?

  • Richard Haick

​The answer, provided at Thursday night's sold-out show at the Fox Theater in Oakland, is that DuVall blends in seamlessly. Listening to him trade vocals with Cantrell on Black Gives Way is downright eerie, if only because the band's newest addition sounds so startlingly similar to the man he replaced. In a live setting, his vocals are, if anything, more polished than Staley's, but they're otherwise indistinguishable from his predecessor's.

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