January 31, 2012
Review and photos by Infamousbutcher
Anvil has gotten a bit of a second career since their documentary ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL hit theaters and later VH1 Classic in 2009. Prior to the documentary, my only knowledge of Anvil was the song Forged in Fire, which Benediction covered on their killer 1992 EP Dark is the Season. Over the last two years I’ve seen Anvil four times and I’ve got to say they are one of the best live metal acts around! It’s a terrible shame these guys never caught on because they are great performers with more talent than dozens of bands that “made it”. I think of them as a cross between AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and early Metallica, so in other words I love ‘em.
Tonight the Canadian Metal legends are playing the little Sellersville Theater which is 15 minutes from my home in Hilltown, Pennsylvania. It’s the shortest we’ve ever had to travel for a show. The Sellersville Theater was originally built in 1894 so it is a local landmark. It is a beautifully kept, cozy theater that holds 350 people. There are movie theater style seats and then a few tables up at the front with chairs. Most of the acts that play at the Sellersville Theater are things like blues, classic rock, country, Celtic music – never metal, so the place isn’t really set up for it. It was a sit down show, but the energy level and enthusiasm from the crowd was impressive, especially since it was only half full. Opening act was Electric Boa from Philadelphia. Their music style was more hard rock than metal, which they delivered with vigor. The singer reminded us a bit of Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes in both his vocal delivery and stage presence. The musicians were nondescript but hey, we’ve suffered through much worse!
Lips, Robb, and new bass player Sal Italiano took the stage to cheers! Opener was the instrumental “March of the Crabs”, which the boys ripped into with gusto! Lips is such a great frontman, full of positive energy, a natural performer. Robb is probably the most underrated drummer in metal, I’ve never seen anyone match his thrash / speed / jazz style. Next up was “666”, tongue in cheek evil fun! Lips’ vocals were clear and powerful throughout the set and his solos soared. His high notes were a bit off, but it hardly mattered, Anvil is metal machine live. Lips has a great sense of humor – early in the show right before the classic “School Love”, someone called out for the rare Hard and Heavy track “At the Apartment”. Lips’ reaction was priceless. His deadpan was: “At the Apartment”?!? HOLY CHRIST! I don’t think we remember that one! It’s been a long time since we played it and it’ll be even longer before we play it again!
Early in the show I noticed I could hear the bass much more clearly than at prior Anvil shows, a testament to Sal’s playing. Sal did a great job as Glenn Five’s replacement. He is completely different from Glenn in that he is a better musician but not as much of a showman. Glenn was much more active on the stage and his backing vocals on songs like “Juggernaut of Justice” and “Fucken Eh” were quite good. Sal didn’t draw much attention to himself, but seemed to be having a good time up there. His backing vocals were higher pitched than Glenn’s and didn’t fit the music as well. On a few songs the band didn’t seem as quite as tight as the other times I have seen them with Glenn, but I’m sure they gel in time.
Throughout the show was excellent. Highlights included “Winged Assassins” with Robb’s thunderous drumming, sabbathy slow heavy tunes such as “This is Thirteen”, “Thumb Hang”, and my personal favorite,” Forged in Fire”. Anvil always nails the slow sludgy ones. The show’s centerpiece was a powerful version of the thrashy ”Mothra”, complete with Lips using a gold dildo while soloing! “Thumb Hang” was dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio. Robb’s drum solo was showcased with the song “Swing Thing”, instead of the usual “White Rhino”. Robb is a beast behind the kit! Nobody’s drum solo is a good as his – I just saw Motorhead twice this month and Robb’s solo put Mikkey Dee’s solo to shame! I am marveled when I watch Robb’s effortless rhythms, intensity, speed, and power!
Lips is a great story teller with excellent delivery. Late in the show he commented on the benefits of celebrity and recently having breakfast with actor Dustin Hoffman. Dustin told him that during the filming of Tootsie when he was in drag, he propositioned a studio exec in an elevator and offered to give him a blow job! Horrified the exec declined and found out later it wasn’t a middle aged woman, it was Dustin Hoffman! Lips said Dustin told this story with a big grin while eating a big *&^%ing sausage! Hilarious! Before the song “On Fire”, Lips “charged” himself with the amplifier by putting the plug in his mouth and said, “This will make your pubic hair stand up, If you have any! Most people shave it now, especially the ladies and we love that! Ok there are kids here, I’m getting a bit naughty!”
The show wrapped up with the classic anthem “Metal on Metal”, and then an encore of “Forged in Fire” and the new song “Running”. Lips commented that the crowd was great and he was very impressed with the Sellersville fans. As always, Lips, Robb, and Sal were available after the show for pictures, autographs, or just to chat with the metalheads. You can’t beat an Anvil show! Anytime they are playing nearby, and for us that means Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland, we’re there! Never breaking, never bend, the anvil was forged in fire!
March of the Crabs
Juggernaut of Justice
This Is Thirteen
Swing Thing / drum solo
New Orleans Voodoo
Metal on Metal
Forged in Fire