Jerry Cantrell Performs to Sold-Out Crowd in Buffalo
(Vocalist Greg Puciato and Jerry Cantrell)
For only the third time as a solo artist, Jerry Cantrell came through Western, New York and performed to a packed house at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo. I was lucky enough to attend his first visit, when he opened for Metallica back in 1998, while touring in support of his debut solo album, 'Boggy Depot.' The quarter century since then has been eventful, with the demise and rebirth of Alice in Chains, and now the release of Cantrell's third solo LP, 'Brighten," last year.
I've been an Alice in Chains fan since Junior High and I've always enjoyed Cantrell's solo material as well, so I already knew last night's show was going to be great. I honestly wasn't prepared for how great it was going to be, however. In the early 90's, when Alice in Chains came through Buffalo several times (three times between 1991 and 1992), I was too young to attend and hadn't even discovered heavy music yet. In the years since Alice in Chains have become active again, with vocalist William DuVall, I've been lucky to catch them a handful of times and enjoyed each performance.
It's with that in mind, that I simply can't avoid how fantastic a performance Greg Puciato put on while he filled in for Layne Stayley's vocal parts on several classic Alice in Chains songs. Puciato has to know the immense shoes he's attemping to fill night after night in these performances. For the naysayers out there, and the pesimism is understandable, I can't encourage you enough to get past it. This show was magic. Largely, this is due to what came from the stage, but I've got to acknowledge intimate setting of the Town Ballroom and the roaring intensity of the sold-out crowd as well.
Jerry Cantrell's band performing at the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, New York
The show opened with "Atone," from Cantrell's latest solo LP, which largely served to build the energy within the crowd. "Psychotic Break" followed immediately, setting the tone for the rest of the evening. From there, we were treated to a pair of classic Chains tunes with "Them Bones" and "We Die Young" (making it's 2022 live debut). Cantrell followed by a string of solo hits including "Cut You In" and "My Song," with another new tune, "Siren Song," sandwiched in-between.
From this point forward, it was abundantly clear that I wasn't the only one completely blown away by this performance. The entire crowd took in each song knowing this performance would mark a significant milestone, a show that people would talk about for years to come. The nostalgia kicked into overdrive from here on out, as we took in an exceptional rendition of "No Excuses," from Alice in Chains 'Jar of Flies' EP (my first foray into their catalog). The rest of the night was something of a best-of, also including classic AIC tracks "Man in the Box" and "Would?" before ending the main set.
The encore consisted of the title track from Cantrell's new album, 'Brigten,' as well as another trio of classic AIC ("Whale & Wasp," Sea of Sorrow," and "Rooster") before closing out with a cover of Elton John's "Goodbye."
Jerry Cantrell performing in Buffalo at the Town Ballroom
I don't know when I'll get to see Alice in Chains or a solo performance from Jerry Cantrell again, but I know this performance will forever hold a special place in my memory. Arriving at the sold-out show and seeing the crowd build leading up to the beginning of the show was really exciting. I've been to a few sold-out shows at the Town Ballroom before, and they're always an intimate evening that holds a special place, but this one was something more. Over the years, I've heard artists refer to the unique layout of this venue, as the performer is surrounded by three tiers of fans in a semi-circle setup. Following this show, I would love to know if the band was feeling the same vibes from this crowd that I was, because the energy was unmistakable.
If this show is coming through your town soon, grab a ticket and go. You'll regret missing this one!
Them Bones (Alice in Chains cover)
We Die Young (Alice in Chains cover)
Cut You In
Check My Brain (Alice in Chains cover)
No Excuses (Alice in Chains cover)
Had to Know
A Job to Do
Man in the Box (Alice in Chains cover)
Would? (Alice in Chains cover)
Whale & Wasp (Alice in Chains cover)
Sea of Sorrow (Alice in Chains cover)
Rooster (Alice in Chains cover)
Goodbye (Elton John cover)