Setting the Stage: Jerry Cantrell is a rock icon. As the architect of many of Alice in Chains’ classic songs, he played a major part in creating the soundtrack to the early ’90s alternative revolution. Having recently kicked off a North American solo tour (pick up tickets here), the singer-guitarist made his way to a sold-out show at New York City’s newly renovated Irving Plaza on Tuesday night, April 5th, 20 years to the day that his legendary bandmate Layne Staley passed away.
For this tour — and his recent solo album, Brighten — Cantrell put together an all-star backing band, featuring singer Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), drummer Gil Sharone (Team Sleep), guitarist Tyler Bates (producer and film soundtrack composer), and others. While Alice in Chains are set to embark on their own tour of amphitheaters beginning in August, this solo outing offers a rare chance to see Cantrell in a more intimate setting.
Taking the Stage: Cantrell and company didn’t waste any time offering up a classic from the Alice in Chains catalog, kicking the evening off with a thunderous rendition of “Them Bones.” The singer-guitarist then took another trip back in time with “Psychotic Break,” the only song from his 2002 solo album Degradation Trip that he played all night. From there, Cantrell and his crew offered up a taste of the second and current chapter of Alice in Chains, with “Your Decision” from 2009’s Black Gives Ways to Blue (AIC’s first album with singer William DuVall).
With the tour in support of Cantrell’s stellar 2021 album, Brighten, a handful of the LP’s songs were showcased during the set, including the title track, “Siren Song,” and “Had to Know.” Opening act Lola Colette (daughter of Tyler Bates) joined Cantrell and company onstage for another Brighten tune, “Black Hearts and Evil Done.” Meanwhile, Cantrell’s 1998 solo debut, Boggy Depot, was also well represented with “Between,” “Cut You In,” and “My Song.”
The last third of the show was heavy on Alice in Chains songs, much to the fans’ delight. “Heaven Beside You,” “It Ain’t Like That” and another DuVall-era AIC tune, “Check My Brain” (which received a very warm welcome by the crowd) led up to the main set closer, the masterful “Would?” (which topped Heavy Consequence‘s recent list of Alice in Chains’ 10 Best Songs).
The band exited the stage, only to return a few minutes later for the encore, playing another Brighten tune, the heavy “Atone,” before launching into a pair of Alice in Chains favorites. “Man in the Box” allowed Puciato to shine, as he tackled the late Staley’s lead vocals. As the long-time lead singer of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Puciato was known for his death-defying stage antics, and it must’ve been tough for him to reign it in for the majority of the set. However, with “Man in the Box,” he was finally able to let loose, as he jumped into the crowd to sing the song that put AIC on the map.
Next up was the mighty “Rooster,” with Cantrell once again assuming lead vocals, as he sang the song he penned in tribute to his father, who served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. While that would have been a rousing close to the set, the band stayed on for one more tune, as Cantrell put down his guitar for the first time all night to sing a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye,” a fitting set-closing song if there ever was one.
Despite the show taking place on the 20th anniversary of Staley’s passing, Cantrell never uttered his fallen bandmate’s name throughout the entire set. But he didn’t have to. The songs themselves paid tribute to Staley, whose spirit lives on through the iconic music that he and Cantrell created together.
See our photos of Jerry Cantrell and his band performing at New York City’s Irving Plaza, as well as the setlist, below. Pick up tickets to Cantrell’s remaining North American solo dates here, and grab tickets to Alice in Chains’ upcoming US tour here.
Photo Gallery – Jerry Cantrell and his solo band at New York City’s Irving Plaza (click to enlarge and scroll through):
Them Bones (Alice in Chains song)
Your Decision (Alice in Chains song)
Cut You In
No Excuses (Alice in Chains song)
Black Hearts and Evil Done (with Lola Colette)
Had to Know
Heaven Beside You (Alice in Chains song)
It Ain’t Like That (Alice in Chains song)
Check My Brain (Alice in Chains song)
Would? (Alice in Chains song)
Man in the Box (Alice in Chains song)
Rooster (Alice in Chains song)
Goodbye (Elton John cover)