W.A.S.P. @ Starland Ballroom (7/15/2005)

Logo - WASP

Artist: W.A.S.P.
Venue: Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Opener: L.A. Guns, Stephen Pearcy, Metal Church
Label: Sanctuary Records
Date: 7/15/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal

The event was called “The American Metal Blast” tour and this pretty much on target for it was that and so much more. I was fortunate to be able to review this show not only as a Metal Journalist but also as a fan of all of these bands. W.A.S.P. in particular has held a high ranking in my list of favorite bands to see live and when you add three other quality groups to the bill – you know the show was going to be great all around. The setting would be The Starland Ballroom, where most recently I attended the Sounds Of The Underground show and the Anthrax reunion. While I am already a fan of this place I have to say that this is a great venue to see a group like W.A.S.P. It is roomy enough to cater to their visual nature and you are able to follow the action from any vantage point in the club. For me that is an incredible plus.

We arrived just in time to see Metal Church perform and they really know how to get it started at a Metal show. The band has just returned from a European tour in support of their SPV Records release “The Weight Of The World”. The band also has Ira Black on guitar in place of Kurdt Vanderhoof (he had conflicts in his schedule). We spoke to Ira backstage and were informed that he had joined the band two weeks almost immediately after his touring with Chris Caffery (former Savatage). Singer Ronnie Munroe did a great job on the old David Wayne stuff as well as the new material. Solid Metal, as expected. I am sure David smiles down from above and raises the Metal horns.

Stephen Pearcy came on shortly after and right off the bat I could tell that he was going to be better than I had expected him to be. Don’t get me wrong in this but in most cases when one good band becomes two different ones, instead of double the magic you are left with two sub-par acts. Pearcy made sure that his set focused primarily on the best of the Ratt material he had. His band was akin to a down and dirty Guns ‘N Roses type more than the glam that Ratt was noted for. I felt his voice was a little rougher yet it all seemed to work together with the way the band was delivering the music. The response he and his group received was very positive with the audience singing along to every tune.

L.A. Guns always seems to give a good show to their audience. Out of the crop of bands from the Sunset Strip they were among the few who had any sort of staying power over the years with there no-nonsense Rock & Roll. I found it interesting to watch drummer Steven Riley for at one time he slammed the kit in W.A.S.P. Their set featured some new material and expected classics. There is not much more to report other than they kicked ass once again but did sound a little tighter than when I saw them last year with Dokken. I am thinking this was because at the time their guitar player was a new addition and now he has had considerable gigging time with them.

For W.A.S.P. the club was at its most crowded and reports later circulated that this was the best draw on the tour so far. I felt this was a combination of both venue and the bands themselves. To those that have never seen W.A.S.P. live you need to experience it at least once in your life as a Metal fan. The speakers blared “The End” by the Doors and this was how they used to open their sets many years ago. It was interesting to hear this as it made me recollect times in the past when I had seen them. Perhaps this was the expected result. Suddenly the group hit the stage running and they are a total hurricane from the get go. The band was said to be performing a Greatest Hits set, and Blackie had interviewed that this material was special for the Fans and it needed to be presented as such. The lineup for the last few years has been Mike Duda (bass), Darrell Roberts (guitar) and Stet Howland (drums) along with Master Of Ceremonies Blackie Lawless and quite honestly this is the tightest lineup the band has ever had. I missed Chris Holmes for a short time until I saw Darrell play as he really is excellent. While I was originally sad that Frankie Banali had opted to stay with Quiet Riot instead of touring W.A.S.P. I quickly recovered when Stet Howland returned. Stet is devastation on the drums and all through the performance juggles, and throws his sticks along with performing very well on the backing vocals. In a band like W.A.S.P. it is great to also have a very visual drummer. Bassist Duda holds the whole thing in check while Blackie sings and performs on the wildest microphone stand I have ever seen. This is a stand, a stage ornament and a carnival ride all in one. Blackie continually climbs to the top of it, or starts swinging back and forth on it. With this performance there was a lot of return to the old school mindset as Blackie was once again wearing the buzz saw blade gauntlets as he had in the 80’s. Yet this was not to be the only turn back the time event as late in the set the familiar rumblings in the music began and Blackie now wearing a mask in black war paint came out with his axe. From there a box labeled “raw meat” was displayed and Blackie began chopping. The audience became ravenous as the Lawless one began to toss the bits of chopped meat to the hungry outstretched hands. I steered clear from that since it was getting crazy in the front and I did not really require any of the stuff. Guitar pick yes, chopped up meat no thank you. The set list seemed a bit short at just over an hour and 10 minutes but they really did play almost everything one can expect in a hits performance. I left completely satisfied and anxious for their return. Blackie has proved that with age comes expertise and while he can be considered a “Wild Child” at times, he is still “The Idol” to many, many others.

L.A. Guns Set List
1. Show No Mercy
2. Sex Action
3. It’s Never Enough
4. Electric Gypsy
5. Vampire
6. One More Reason To Die

Stephen Pearcy Set List:
1. Push Me
2. Wanted Man
3. I’m Insane
4. You Think You’re Tough
5. Back For More
6. Teacher’s Pet
7. Lack Of Communication
8. Lay It Down
9. You’re In Love
10. Body Talk
11. Round And Round

W.A.S.P. Set List:
1. On Your Knees/Inside The Electric Circus/ – Medley
2. L.O.V.E. Machine
3. Wild Child
4. Animal (F–k Like A Beast)
5. Headless Children
6. The Idol
7. Kill Your Pretty Face
8. The Real Me
9. I Wanna Be Somebody
10. Sleeping In The Fire
11. Blind In Texas

Official Web site: http://www.WASPNation.com
Official Web site: http://www.LAGuns.com
Official Web site: http://www.Pearcey.com
Official Web site: http://www.MetalChurch.com

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