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Homecoming for AIC's DuVall Not Spoiled by Cantrell's Flu Bug

When acknowledging all the great things about a venue, band members almost never talk on stage about the quality of a bathroom. But that is exactly what Alice in Chains' guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell did at the band's March 3 stop at DAR Constitution Hall, in Washington, D.C.

Dealing with the lingering effects of a flu bug that forced the band to cancel its performance the previous night in Charlotte, N.C., Cantrell took the time to thank all the "tax payer dollars being put to good use" to keep the bathroom facilities comfortable.

Humor aside, one had to wonder if the band would have taken the second night off if it were not for the show having special meaning to area native and lead vocalist/guitarist William DuVall. Back in his hometown, the frontman spoke fondly of the privilege of playing one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected venues.

But in the spirit of rock n' roll, the show must go on. And if Cantrell was struggling to overcome his illness, it did not show in his performance (although a couple of tracks that had up, until this show, been regularly appearing during this leg of the tour were not played, including "Angry Chair"). Alice in Chains served up a solid 105-minute set that included a cross section of all its releases recorded with the late Layne Staley and six numbers from the band's comeback effort, Black Gives Way to Blue.

This lineup has been touring for more than three years now, and the performance reflected that. DuVall and Cantrell meshed perfectly, as if they had been playing together for decades. The native Washingtonian displayed why his transition into the band's lead singer slot has worked so well, as he was able to match Staley's tone while still maintaining a certain vocal uniqueness to set him apart.

The band was at its best during the longer numbers from the latest album that were showcased: "Acid Bubble" and "A Looking In View." Another highlight came in the form an emotionally powerful "Love, Hate, Love," from Facelift. And while some popular singles, notably "No Excuses," were absent from the set, the capacity crowd didn't seem to mind as only congratulations on a well-played show could be overheard following the show-ending encore of "Man in the Box" and "Rooster."

Alice in Chains (with Middle Class Rut)
March 3, 2010
DAR Constitution Hall
Washington, D.C.

- Gregory Twachtman


Copyright 2010, Brian Heaton. All Rights Reserved.