Metal’s perennial whipping boys Anvil are back in town. They have taken every knock, weathered every storm and are still going strong. They have been treading the boards for a long time so if you want to know how they fair after over 30 years in the business read on for a story of then and now.
The first support of the night is from local band SeMPeR Fi (4/5). A thank you from Anvil should be in order as they had a fair few supporters in the venue, all shouting, swearing, singing and drinking to the best of their Scottish ability. Luckily the band were not as intoxicated and put on a top class gig.
Unfortunately they had some technical difficulties but as you would expect in such instances everyone comes together to resolve this, no, wait it is a Scottish band’s fail so we will have the singer abuse, ridicule and mock the poor guitarist. You have to love us Scots. As I said a solid set, some good vocals and a brilliant version of Bill Withers “ Ain’t no Sunshine”. They tied that one down with a real rock swagger so if you get a chance please check this band out.
Dendera (4/5) are the support for the full tour and I was eager to see them in a live environment after checking them out online prior to the gig tonight. I can assure you they did not disappoint, with a cracking set and another load of fans who looked as if they may be following the whole tour. They are a five piece that hails from Portsmouth with three albums to their name. The latest offering ”Pillars of Creation” is a beast of an album with huge aspirations that is perfectly matched by the musicianship and storytelling held within.
Now since I am about to go onto a history lesson shortly I will throw another date at you, 1982, a year when a little band called Iron Maiden signed a new vocalist who at that point had 3 names, Bruce Dickinson, Bruce Bruce and the Air Raid Siren. The latter of those could quite easily refer to Ashley Edison. The singer has a hell of a set of pipes on him and he hit some incredible notes with ease and without falter. To have this weapon backed up with dueling guitars and a fantastic rhythm section means these guys have a future to look forward to. They have definitely made a new fan here and if you like long winding, guitar wielding, tempo changing metal you need look no further. Definitely ones to watch.
Let me take you on a journey in time and space. Roll back the years to 18/6/1983, the venue is the Glasgow Apollo, the headliners are Motorhead and a little know Canadian threesome called Anvil (4.5/5) are the support. This was the very first time I had witnessed the band and I still have fond memories to this day. I remember a much younger Lips running around like a jackhammer stuck on full throttle, I remember them winning the crowd over in minutes which is no mean feat in Glasgow. I also remember they blew Motorhead off the stage that night. It was a bit of a funny time for them as they had replaced Philthy Phil with Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy. The album was ok but this was the strangest fit in metal, nearly as bad as Gillan in Sabbath and the crowd did not like it. Robbo just looked too clean and what were all those guitar pedals doing on a Motorhead stage?
So Anvil kicked some ass that night and they had a lifelong fan in myself and it is funny how things happen but my last gig was at Hellfest in France which saw Motorhead play just 3 short weeks ago. So how did Anvil fare against the headliners with 32 years between gigs? Again there is no change. Unfortunately Lemmy is not capable of putting on much of a show anymore. It was sad to see and I reckon I will probably not see the man live again, There may not be much more written on the pages of what is a complete legend. Anvil on the other hand have still got it in bucket loads. Tonight was a lesson on how to still put on a show after all these years.
They kicked the show off with “March of the Crabs”, the classic instrumental played note perfect which saw Lips on the amps at the side of the stage. The crowd bayed to their master as we saw him cut his licks on the new sparkly flying V. There is no let up and they fire through “School Love” and “666” before taking a breath. At this point Lips goes on to mention the Motorhead gig all those years ago, how it was the band’s first time in the UK and when they hit Glasgow they could not believe the reaction they got from the fans. The memory has stayed with the man as much as it has stayed with myself. The good thing to see was the fact that this wasn’t rehearsed, it wasn’t googled, you could tell from his smile he meant every word.
As we fly through songs old and new I am listening intently and it hits home how many bands have that raw Anvil sound, the stripped bare, bones through the flesh metal that they have stuck with to this day. You can hear Machine Head, you can hear Sepultura, you can hear Metallica and all thrash bands in-between. They really did lay down a foundation that they never really garnished any rewards from. In this respect they remind me of Diamond Head, a band I also loved in the old days and saw them supporting and headline at that same Glasgow Apollo. Fate has a bitch of a backhander at times but the main thing is they are going strong and doing what they love.
“Metal on Metal” sets the crowd to crazy ass mode and from here on in it is just chaos. The feeling to me is one of old friends meeting up and going on a bender. The venue is set up without a photographers pit so the crowd is right in the bands face, which makes for some awkwardness as during one of his solos a slightly inebriated young lady decides to place her cowboy hat on Lips head as he is mid solo. There isn’t much he can do but smile and keep playing.
We get some introductions now, the first is his new guitar which in his own words was broken in with a good finger job every night, Next Is the outstanding Robb Reiner who gives us a stellar lesson on bashing those skins and lastly we come to new man and bass player Chris Robertson, with a little joke that Anvil go through more bass players than Spinal Tap and drummers.
The guys finish up with “Born to be Wild” and what a way to go out. An excellent version and nearly as good a cover version as their own “paint it Black” which is still one of my favourite version’s to date. The band nailed it tonight, they were extremely tight, the crowd loved it and it was 1 hour and 30 minutes of downright dirty Rock ‘n’ Roll music. Hurry back guys. Glasgow loves you and will always welcome you with open arms.