LIVE: King Diamond @ The Forum, London

By Glen Bushell

King Diamond is more than just a character; he lives and breathes every aspect of persona he has created. The corpse painted face, the inverted crosses, and satanic imagery are more than just part of his elaborate stage show. This is who King Diamond is, and while many claim to be influenced by the darker aspects of life, you truly believe that King Diamond personifies it.

From fronting metal pioneers Mercyful Fate, to creating a band under his own name, King Diamond has been an enigmatic force in heavy metal for over thirty years. Without him many bands wouldn’t exist, and tonight we gather in London to witness a full performance of the 1987 concept album, ‘Abigail’, as well as a selection of cuts from his back catalogue.

The rapturous applause that greets King Diamond is almost deafening. The sold out crowd at The Forum have waited a long time for this, and with the fitting opener of ‘Welcome Home’, the band could not seem more at home. As expected, this is more than just a heavy metal show; this is more like a theatre production. Grandma joins King on stage as he helps her out of her chair, the backdrop changes as the band shreds their way through various eras with ‘Halloween’ and ‘Eye Of The Witch’, and King Diamond himself leads proceedings like a demonic conductor.

King Diamond even takes things back to his Mercyful Fate years, screeching his way through ‘Melissa’ and ‘Come To The Sabbath.’ Known to have one of the most impressive vocal ranges in metal, he is note perfect. From the spoken word baritone growls to ear-piercing highs, his diction and delivery is clear and spine chilling.

When the lights go back down, the inverted crosses that hang from the rafters glow, and the haunting introduction of ‘Funeral’ bellows from the speakers, it is time to be told the tale of ‘Abigail.’ The gothic horror story is brought to life by the band, along with an actress to play the part of one of the tales protagonists, Miriam. Guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Weed trade blistering riffs with one another through ‘Arrival’, ‘A Mansion In Darkness’, and ‘The Family Ghost’.

Given that tonight is a full album performance, you know exactly what to expect from each track. That doesn’t stop the acoustic introduction of ‘The 7th Day of July 1777’ sounding any less beautiful, and the accomplished playing of ‘The Possession’ being just as razor sharp as they were 30 years ago. Rather than come back on for an encore, King Diamond graciously thanks the audience as the final notes of ‘The Black Horsemen’ ring out.

People enjoy and get different things from music, and you can take what you will from the gruesome tale of ‘Abigail’, but tonight was just the sort of euphoric escapism you need from time to time. Long live the King.