Photos by Terrible Mystery Snapper
If icy roads and a snow covered city wasn’t enough to deter 50,000 marchers today, it certainly ain’t gonna stop nearly 1,000 W.A.S.P. fans from strapping on the steel toed boots, patch jackets and leather for a night of hell raising in the Academy. Less than a year after their last Irish performance, Blackie Lawless and co are back to give Dublin another hard rock pounding and born again or not, the boys still got it. It may be a long time since W.A.S.P. last tore any charts apart but tonight’s audience shows the band are having no problems in the new recruits department as older fans blend in with a new generation of classic rock fans, growing up in an era where modern ‘icons’ come with recycling instructions and a complimentary donation to UNICEF. Fortunately there are some new bands worth checking out and tonight’s support act, Shadowside is definitely one of them.
As uncomfortable as the metal world can be with female singers (that don’t sound like Amy Lee), exceptions must be made and Shadowside’s lead singer Dani Nolden not only has the attitude to front a metal band, but also has chops Bruce Dickinson would be proud of. Coming on to a half full house and an impressive turn out of their own fans, Dani and band waste no time letting people know they’re here to play metal. There’s no nu-metal, no soft half pop / half shrieking clichés other female fronted bands insist on writing. It’s just spandex clad, larger than life monster tunes in the style of the N.W.O.B.H.M. bands from the eighties. A great choice for support and one shows is more than enough to understand why W.A.S.P. have chosen them as support for their entire tour. Alas, we’re here for the headliners and with support finished, a packed crowd (including tattoo guru Kat Von D) in house, it’s time for a good schooling in metal from one of the bands that do it best.
Building up with sirens, flashing red lights and a playback of some of the bands biggest hits, the venue explodes in cheers as the blacked out figures of W.A.S.P. can be seen arriving on stage, taking positions with their backs to the crowd. As opening song, On Your Knees rumbles up, the lightening rig kicks into gear and the band turn to face the crowd and properly accept their Irish welcome. Blackie may have almost three decades under his belt fronting W.A.S.P. but he’s lost none of the energy and vocal power that made them great for all those years. Dressed in his now uniformed B. Lawless black jersey, frilly wrester style boots and of course, ban saw arm bands he delivers the song with ear piercing venom that cuts through the crowds best efforts. A cover of The Who’s The Real Me leads the way for another bite from their infamous self-titled début, L.O.V.E. Machine which see’s moshing break out with pints flying through the air and a collage of classic videos and footage of the band from their hey day projected on the screen behind them.
Despite Blackie’s reputation for being …..difficult, tonight he’s on fire; frequently addressing the crowd, ignoring the odd pint that comes his way (from thick ignorant ‘fans’) and sticking to a set comprised mostly from their hits rather than pushing their latest album Babylon. Although room is made for Crazy and Live to Die Another Day before they return to classic form for a blitzing rendition of Wild Child. The Idol sees on / off guitarist Doug Blair take the spot light for an extended guitar solo with only drummer Mike Dupke for company on stage. Main set closer, I Wanna Be Somebody gets another extension treatment with Blackie dividing the crowd in half and having us sing the chorus back to him. Unfortunately Goldenplec end up on the ‘pussy side’ but we blame the Guinness. We do not perform well under that kind of pressure and W.A.S.P. should respect that!
With less than ten songs played there’s no way W.A.S.P. are getting off the hook that easily and the sounds of chainsaw’s revving up over the PA lead the way for fan favourite Chainsaw Charlie, more moshing, crowd surfing and of course, flying pints. The set closes with Heaven’s Hung In Black and standard finisher Blind In Texas and a promise from Blackie that the band will return next year. Short, sweet and absolutely brilliant. Despite ignoring their entire Inside The Electric Cirus album and arguably their biggest song, Animal (not a Def Leppard cover). W.A.S.P. were able to shell out a set that delivered everything you could want from a hard rock / metal show. If they’re happy to return next year then so will everyone else.