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Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Thor (with special guests Snatch)

Date: Late Tuesday, October 30th
Location: The Night Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
Attendance: About 66.6 | Rating: 5/5 Reviewer: JP

I don't usually review concerts. Writing a review of a one-time, unique event that the reader will never have a chance to see seems to be difficult because it is an intensely personal experience. Anything can affect enjoyment of a show, the venue, sound quality, the crowd (or lack of) alcohol consumption etc…but this show was different. I wanted to tell the world about it. I was excited about this concert days before it started. Not because I'm a huge fan of THOR, in fact I only have one of his 12 albums. What was cool was a chance to see a real Canadian Metal Legend (Yes, Legend) in an intimate setting. Think about it. THOR was around playing heavy rock, (metal, whatever) before Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Motorhead, Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate, Manowar and even before Ozzy went solo! Kiss, Riot and Priest were just starting out and the Scorpions, Cooper, Purple, UFO and Sabbath were the only other big names at the time. In fact, I believe THOR to be the first Canadian heavy metal artist. I can't think of anyone who came before him…Anvil was 1981… So here was a chance (probably my only chance) to see one of the world's first metal artists on the eve of the Heavy Metal Holy Day…Halloween. Before you laugh, realize that THOR still holds some influence today, most recent example I can think of is the Swedish, death-metal band Bewitched covering a THOR tune in 1999. He has a new CD and is enjoying some success on his North American tour.

The show was in the grungy, small club like any other. The opening act came and went 3 dudes playing good basic bar rock. They were fairly talented and for Halloween they were dressed as Jean-Luc Picard, an Indian (ahem, excuse me, a native North American aboriginal, indigenous, first nations person) and the drummer was either Evil Knevil or Super-Dave Osbourne, I couldn't figure it out.

Then it was time….12:20 am… the dawn of the first Halloween of the new Millennium…the Power, the Glory…the Majesty…THE MIGHTY THOR!!!!!

Wow! What an incredibly fun and amazing show!! I have seen about 20 shows this year and THOR was the best. Better than Pantera, better than AC/DC, better than Fear Factory. Why? Because he was Enter-f**king-taining!! No pretension, no bullshit, just kick-ass metal. THOR and his motley crew of no-names stormed the stage to the opening salvo of "Ride of The Chariots" and they never looked back.

Everything we know and love about THOR was there in force. The (rubber) mace, the (rubber) sword, the (rubber) battle-axe and of course the (rubber) Warhammer! The props were amazing… he had 3 costumes, 6 different masks, giant Canadian and American flags, skull belts, skull knee pads (?!) giant boots, battle armour…. it was truly magnificent to behold. All the stunts were present as well… he bent the iron bar in his teeth, snapped the mike stand in two and of course blew up the hot water bottle. However, this time the hot-water bottle didn't explode! It must have been a combination of his age, the smoky bar, the high altitude (less oxygen?) and a heavy duty "Life brand" hot-water bottle that would not co-operate. Anyway just at the point of bursting he shot it way out into the crowd and it looked like he was about to pass out! He was a trooper and came roaring back with another tune. He was having the time of his life as well, he would run around in the crowd, and get people to sing with him, he did tons of high-fives all night, he passed the flags and props around the audience, and invited various fans (mostly girls) on stage to sing and party and try to convince them to take off their tops for the crowd. As I enjoyed the spectacle, I took a couple of quick notes and here are the "Top 3 Overheard Quotes" from the audience.

3. "He's like a giant tiger in a tiny cage"

2. "He has more energy in front of 100 people than most artists do in front of 10,000"

1. "It's like Spinal Tap Man!"

The music was actually heavier, much heavier, than I anticipated, all the hits were there in force. His band was young and tight and having the time of their lives. Here's the track listing of the anthemic songs.

  • Ride of the Chariots

  • Anger

  • Fear of Reality

  • "The Iron Bar stunt"

  • Dogz II / Keep The Dogs Away (Medley)

  • Thunder Hawk

  • ?? (The only song I didn't know or catch)

  • Warhammer

  • "The Hot-water Bottle Stunt'

  • Knock 'em Down

  • Ragnarok

  • Encore

  • Thunder on The Tundra

  • "The Microphone stand stunt"

  • and the triumphant finale with EVERYONE singing along…Let The Blood Run Red!

This is the way live metal was meant to be viewed. Up close and personal at some sweaty gig in some grungy dump with 60 of your new best friends in the front row, all singing along to music that is so loud it pounds you in the chest. The mighty THOR came, saw and conquered all. A Halloween gig I will never forget.

To learn more about a piece of Canadian metal history, check out the excellent web-site www.thorkorr.com or consult your local library.

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