King Diamond / Jess and the Ancient Ones @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON, October 18, 2014

Review by Sean Palmerston – Concert photos by Adam Wills

This was a Saturday night worth remembering. A cold, crisp October evening just a few weeks before Halloween made for a fitting return of King Diamond to a Toronto stage. It had been over ten years since King had played Toronto with any of his musical incarnations and this time was an extra special visit.

Finnish occult rock outfit Jess and the Ancient Ones were handpicked by KD to open this tour. They wouldn’t have been my first choice as an opener. I think I would have went for a more energetic band personally, but the atmospheric band did a decent job preparing the crowd for what was to follow. The group’s sound is not overly heavy, a lot of clean guitars and windswept atmosphere to their songwriting. I kept thinking they take influence from Ennio Morricone movie soundtrack stuff and a good dollop of both Danzig and Social Distortion. Performance wise, the musicians were pretty stoic onstage, not very active at all, but vocalist Jess was like a woman possessed. She danced, writhed and shook during the entire set, almost looking like she was hopped up on something good that she didn’t share with the rest of the group. It’s too bad that she didn’t.

After getting a great selection of classic hard rock anthems pumping over the PA for close to an hour – it’s always nice to hear Deep Purple and Uriah Heep over a club system – the time finally came for what the thousand strong crowd was so desperately waiting for. The lights went out, a glowing red baphomet pentagram lit up at the back of the stage and organ music started on the PA, marking the impending start of the show. Launching into “The Candle,” a song fittingly taken from the first KD album Fatal Portrait, from behind an eight-foot cast metal fence that covered the front of the stage, King Diamond and band had arrived and proceeded to play the best concert this writer has seen in 2014.

Flanked by longtime guitarists Mike Wead and Andy LaRoque, Diamond proved on this evening why this concert tour was so worth the wait. This tour was done in venues that needed to be big enough for him to bring his full European stage show to, hence the show being in the cavernous Sound Academy. The multi level stage, with stairs on each side of a massive drum riser and more lights and props than at any King Diamond or Mercyful Fate show I have ever been to, was impressive to say the least. Flanked by huge upside down crosses, the baphomet pentagram was later replaced by a huge portrait of the King himself. The set included extra actors, including a very gruesome looking Grandma amongst others. This show was the King Diamond concert I had always wanted to see – and it was great to listen to too.

King Diamond did a great job picking songs that spanned his career. Newer songs like “The Puppet Master” fit in well next to classic tracks like “Eye Of The Witch” and “Welcome Home.” The inclusion of two Mercyful Fate songs (“Evil” and “Come To the Sabbath”) were met with rapturous applause from the obviously very pleased crowd, but even if he hadn’t played those songs I doubt anyone in attendance really would have complained. This was a well-played show that was absolutely delightful to watch. It was a spectacle done in a way that only King Diamond could have pulled off – and one that left no one in attendance disappointed.

King Diamond Setlist
The Candle
Sleepless nights
Welcome Home
Never Ending Hill
Let It Be Done
The Puppet Master
At The Graves
Tea/Digging Graves/A Visit From the Dead
Come To the Sabbath
Shapes of Black
Eye of the Witch


2nd Encore:
The Family Ghost
Black Horsemen

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.