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King Diamond and Exodus @ Aragon Ballroom, Chicago (USA) – 27th November 2015

My number one priority whenever I attend a concert is to get an interview. Whenever that opportunity is missed, it’s often a year or more before I can correct it. Most bands tour in cycles, it’s not unusual for an American-based group with a new release to roll through Chicago every year or two. European acts play through here even less and anyone jamming outside that realm may never come to visit.

In April of last year I tried to attend the notorious Testament/ Exodus show at Mojoes. For those of you who follow ‘the scene’, this was the show that killed Mojoes. The event was ‘over-sold’ in excess, fans were turned away as the attendees who managed to make it inside, were treated like slow-cooked slabs of beef.  I was one of the ‘unfortunate ones’ who never made it inside. Although, I considered myself lucky to speak with Marcos Leal of Shattered Sun, the near riotous events kept me from connecting with Steve ‘Zetro’ Sousa of Exodus, a guy I’d been interviewing for years as a member of Hatriot. I went home bummed considering a grand opportunity had been missed.

King Diamond Exodus North America 2015

When King Diamond announced his current tour with Exodus I knew the metal gods were giving me a sign. I looked forward to the event for months and left in ample time to make my 4pm scheduled interview with Exodus bassist Jack Gibson. With me this time was MetalRecusants cameraman Roger Schultz and longtime friend J.D. Peterson. As we drove past the Aragon Ballroom I realized I hadn’t been to concert there since I saw White Zombie (El Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1) open for Anthrax (Sound of White Noise) fronted by John Bush!  I parked on a side street of the concrete jungle and sent a text to the band’s tour manager. When we didn’t get a response after fifteen minutes we decided to head over to Reggies to grab a burger and drink a couple of beers. The music business is imperfect and delays inhabit the realm of the journalist, I was confident this was only a minor setback but my friends had spent the last two hours stuck in Black Friday traffic, they needed to take a piss and eat.

Reggies is about twenty-five minutes away from the Aragon Ballroom via Lake Shore Drive, not exactly close but I like the atmosphere and the record store, what can I say? Of course we were within two minutes of Reggies when I got a text from the tour manager saying noise had delayed his response and the interview was a go! I asked for more time, we turned around and headed back to the Aragon.

As I approached the band’s tour bus I was a bit apprehensive; I had two friends with me and I planned on doing an audio-only interview. It was cold as fuck, I doubted Jack would want to talk outside; maybe I should have left my friends back at the car… Fortunately, Jack was a kick-ass dude, he invited us all on the bus where I was able to conduct my interview in comfort. Read my interview with Jack Gibson here.

After the interview we basically had two plus hours to kill before the show kicked off at the Aragon so we headed back to Reggies, got some grub, drank a couple beers and discussed Jack Gibson’s hospitality, the guy had definitely kicked things off for us on a high note. We couldn’t wait to see Exodus play live!

We made it back to the Aragon before Exodus hit the stage. The renovations to the Aragon were impressive, it was easy to get a beer or grab a bite. Although it would have been great to have bathrooms on both floors this was definitely a step up from the beer bucket ‘brawl room’ of old.

Exodus opened like a crackhead driving a formula one race car, a death wish going full throttle down a side street headed straight to hell. This band was everything I expected and more, punishing us with classic tracks like “Impaler” and “Exodus”. Kragen Lum from the band Heathen is like a Gary Holt clone. He plays the role with ease and completes an already impressive ensemble of musicians who understand exactly what their fans expect.

I experienced Exodus with Rob Dukes back in 2013 on the Metal Alliance Tour and now I believe his delivery is more ‘heavy metal oriented’ than it is ‘thrash metal oriented’ that’s not to say he’s a bad singer, he just doesn’t have the vocal speed to keep up with the break-neck tempos of classic/current Exodus. Zetro’s rapid fire delivery fits this band like a glove, Exodus is where he belongs.

After Exodus kicked our ass, it was time for Satan’s favorite vocalist King Diamond. I had the pleasure of experiencing King just a few months before when I attended Mayhem fest and I was surprised to hear King changing up the set including songs like “Halloween” and the Mercyful Fate classic “Melissa”. It was a real payoff for the devoted fans who just heard King play over the summer. The theatrics, unbelievable tightness of the band, and quality of King’s voice make any King Diamond concert an experience to remember. King Diamond the vocalist will always be overshadowed by the other powerhouse vocalists of his time period but none will dispute his influence to multiple metal genres.

As King started to wrap up his set I decided to text Zetro and see if he’d have some time to meet me. Unbelievably he texted me back right away and we were able to hang out by the Exodus merchandise booth and take a couple pictures. Then he invited us back onto the tour bus to hang out for a bit. Zetro told us some fantastic tales of this current tour including sharing Thanksgiving dinner with King Diamond! We ran into Jack Gibson again and later the legendary Tom Hunting whose insane drum work had me awestruck during the Exodus live set, I reminded him about our Metal Alliance interview and congratulated him on the successful night.

When I stepped off the tour bus, I knew it was a night to remember! We were buzzing about the night on the way home and I am still buzzing. Metal has opened many doors for me and I hope they continue to open! \m/

David Halbe
About David Halbe (287 Articles)
I live in the USA and I'm a fan of all types of metal: Black, Death, Hair, Thrash, Nu, Core, Sleeze, Stoner, Groove, etc... I have a huge collection of heavy metal CDs and I have been attending shows since 1986. Nothing is too extreme or poserish for me, if it rocks it rocks. Metal is the music we all have in common, it is our lifeblood. \m/

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