WASP – Sunday, Sept. 30th at The Waterfront – REVIEW

When I think of classic American heavy metal bands, several outfits will always cross my mind – Manowar, KISS, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Dio, maybe Alice Cooper and Aerosmith. Ok, some of those would be classed as rock bands, but coming from England, the home of heavy metal, I struggle to think of that many. However, there’s always one that is at the forefront when I think of American heavy metal and that band is WASP.

When I was a kid in the mid- to late-80s WASP was one of the only non-thrash bands that I listened to regularly. I especially loved The Last Command, an absolute classic in my opinion, and really dug the image of main man, Blackie Lawless. I dug it so much that I once drew a picture of Blackie on the front cover of my science class exercise book. He had circular ripsaw blades protruding from his arms and he was dripping blood from his mouth. When my science class teacher saw it he went absolutely fucking ballistic, but that’s a whole other story…

Yet that episode, terrifying as it was, means that WASP is imprinted on my mind forever. So what a pleasure it has been to see the band play twice in the last 13 months. At Bloodstock 2011 they played a great show in an open air festival environment, using a big stage, big sound system and big lights. However, on Sunday 30th September 2012 they played the Waterfront in Norwich, Norfolk, England, as part of their 30 Years of Thunder tour (celebrating being around 30 years, of course). And the venue was the polar opposite of Bloodstock.

The Waterfront is a 700 capacity venue which has been around for about 25 years. Incredibly, it has hosted musical giants such as Nirvana and Radiohead, though that was a long, long time ago (Nirvana played October 1990). However, for underground bands it was fantastic. Pestilence, Entombed, Sabbat, Napalm Death, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror and Deviated Instinct are just a few I remember, but they were over 20 years ago (I’ve seen more, but my alcohol-soaked brain lets me down)… However, it continues to put on great shows, like WASP.

The place was packed by the time I got there, with a good cross-section of young and old, male and female. It is very difficult to get a good view of the stage at the Waterfront if you a) are short, like me, or b) make a conscious decision to stay out of the area close to the stage (where you can see fine) in order to be able to go to the bar on a regular basis. The ceiling is very low, and the area front of stage only goes back maybe 40 feet. Therefore, the crowd tend to envelope the stage all around. I ended up stage right, but this didn’t detract too much from the performance as the sound was good and I could still see the band (I had stood in the very same spot for Entombed – nearly twenty years after the first time – and Amon Amarth last year).

The band ripped through a set of classics including Wild Child, I Wanna Be Somebody and Blind In Texas. They also played a medley of tracks from the superb Crimson Idol album. Blackie        looked in great shape and owned the stage. As I said in my Bloodstock 2011 article, he really is a great front man, and I will say it again, he looks no older than he did 25 years ago. It’s weird because he is 56 years old. How come he doesn’t look 80?

This show was on a Sunday night and curfew was 10pm, so the set was only about 13 tracks, short but sweet. I think they played a little longer at other venues, but this didn’t matter, it was a fine show by a great band. A band that will continue to be at the forefront for me when I think of classic American heavy metal.




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