July 18, 2005

Concert Review: American Metal Blast w/ WASP, Stephen Pearcy (of Ratt), LA Guns, and Metal Church

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis show has quite a bit of history leading up to it's eventual happening. Originally the bill included WASP, LA Guns, Stephen Pearcy, Metal Church, with special guests Wednesday 13. Wednesday 13 was doing a couple of dates on this tour. Then they were also coinciding on a few dates with the Twisted Sister tour, which included Blazed and Sound of Urchin. Then Wednesday 13 dropped off their appearances, I believe they were taking a break. Then Twisted Sister, Blazed, and Sound of Urchin all dropped off the show. I haven't been able to find a reason, but I did see that they were doing a benefit show the night before for their sound engineer who needs a liver transplant. I believe they must be doing some sort of after event type of stuff related to that. After that, the remaining core portion of the American Metal Blast tour got moved from the Civic Center to a smaller venue, The Chance Theater, and dropped the ticket price by $10. Well, I got my ticket and made my to show.

I got there about 15 minutes before the doors opened, there was a good sized crowd forming, waiting to take part in a night of pure metal. I made my way inside, took a quick look at the merchandise, got a drink, and found a perch about fifteen feet from the stage, at the railing around the pit area. From there I waited for the show to start, which included watching Metal Church finish up their sound check.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIt was going on 7:30 when the show started, the crowd was primed and ready for the metal blast they were about to be confronted with. Metal Church took the stage and owned the crowd. There was no need for a warm up act, we were ready. I had seen Metal Church before, when they headlined a show last November, and the only difference between this time and then was the length of their set. They played for approximately 30 minutes. Hearing them again tonight makes me want to get back into some Metal Church's older material. Shredding solos, powerful vocals, great stuff. The crowd was into it as well, although it was kind of funny watching the balding guy in the pit playing air guitar! I am surprised that they never made it as big as some of their metal brethren. This show proves their sound is powerful and they can still be relevant in today's changed metal world.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNext up was LA Guns, bringing their brand of 80's raunch and roll to the stage. I admit, I never really got into them back in the day, but they did put out some good music. There are only two remaining original members, vocalist Phil Lewis and drummer Steve Riley. Phil led the charge, looking like he had partaken in more than a few adult beverages, he was a bit glassy eyed, and a friend got his autograph saying he had some trouble standing up! Anyway, they played a couple of tracks off of an upcoming album, and the new material sounds real good, not quite that 80's sound, but pretty heavy. This was my second time seeing these guys too, I saw them a few years back with Quiet Riot.. By now the crowd was starting to get more active.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNow it was time for a guy, who sings well, but I am not a terribly big fan of, Stephen Pearcy, formerly of Ratt. I have seen him headline before, and I have also seen Ratt, with Jizzy Pearl, and thought they put on a better show. Anyway, Pearcy is looking pretty old these days, but he still sings pretty good. Giving us somewhere in the vicinity of 35 minutes of music, closing with a string of Ratt's bigger hits, including "Lack of Communication," "Lay it Down," and "You Think You're Tough" before finishing with their biggest song "Round and Round."

Now, I was not completely sure I was prepared what was coming up next. The curtains came down, to obscure the stage, although it really didn't do much. It only came down halfway, as the crew needed access to the front of the stage. The drum kit was uncovered on the riser at the rear of the stage, and rather impressive at that. Three platforms were set up along the front of the stage. The center platform also came complete with a few springs at the front of it, on top of which was mounted the most elaborate microphone stand I had ever laid eyes on. The metal monstrosity was a spinal column topped with a skull and crossbones, it's boney metal arms extending upwards like handles. Remember, this was on top of the springs. OK, the stage is set, the crowd is getting a little anxious, the main event was about to kick off.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWASP took the stage to the roar of the crowd. Blackie Lawless came out wearing thigh boots, spandex and plenty of eyeliner. The theatrics of the 80's were back. They tore into their set with reckless abandon. Prowling the stage like animals in a cage, transferring their energy to the crowd, which gave it right back. Blackie is an insane, wild eyed ringleader of mayhem, imploring the crowd to respond. Alternating playing his guitar, and climbing up to perch on top of his spring loaded mic stand as it swayed precariously to and fro threatening to pitch him into the crowd. The only album that I am familiar with is The Headless Children, so when they kicked of the song of the same name, I lost it, it was phenomenal. It was around this point where the theatrics stepped up. The lights went dark, save for the blacklight shining from beneath the mic platform. Blackie was perched on top, smearing his arms and face with the dayglo paint, so we had him glowing, swaying atop the mic stand singing a cut from The Neon God. This was crazy, I can say I have not seen anything quite like it, but it got more bizarre.

Blackie grabbed a battle ax that was onstage and used it to drag out the block of wood to the front of the stage, all this to an instrumental piece timed to his movements. Next came a box with a simple two word label, "Raw Meat." I had heard rumors of meat being used, but this was crazy! He had steaks hanging from his mouth, placing them on the block and chopping with the ax. Then he was flinging bits of meat into the crowd which were then tossed around, and for the first time, I got hit on the arm with meat. Quite the experience. As the set was coming to a close Blackie sprayed his eyes with something akin to black spray paint creating a band across his face, then picking up a skull, telling the crowd to watch as he poured blood from the skull into his mouth.

This was a wild show from start to finish. Tons of loud, driving metal music, a touch of the theatrical, there was so much to like. Four great bands, plus the possible mental disturbance from WASP, it is a show not to be missed.

The American Metal Blast does exactly what it claims to, provide a night of loud music. It is sure to send you home with a little ringing in the ears!

Also at Blogcritics.


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