Pegazus – Sydney Australia, January 2003

Pegazus Concert Review
Sydney Australia, January 2003

Review and live pics by Brat

While the US watched the Superbowl, DownUnder Vegemite was celebrating its 80th birthday. It was Australia Day with ferry races across Sydney Harbor, the naming of Australian of the Year and barbeques laden with steaks, prawns, and beer sizzling in Sydney’s 45ºC (113ºF) heat.

On this weekend of celebration, what else would a true metalhead do but pay homage to our national day by going to see a fair dinkum Aussie band at one of Sydney’s oldest and most respected live pubs – the Annandale Hotel?

I must admit, when I saw PEGAZUS for the first time last year, I thought they were dreadful, but that never stops me from going to see a band a second time and enjoying the company of fellow metalheads.

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you, put an animal in anything and it will always grab my attention, so my interest in PEGAZUS wasn’t a surprise.

It was only when I purchased THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN a few days before the gig that I realised I saw them last year with inaccurate expectations – they’re a traditional metal band, not power metal. So off I went with a blank mind (some people will tell you that’s not hard for me – don’t believe them) to see them as if it was my first time.

There was a strange crowd at the Annandale early in the night, probably compliments of the first support band paying all their friends to make an appearance. A few old faces from the live circuit of ten years ago showed up, as did some of the diehards (yes, that includes me). Those of us who braved the heat driving to the gig (air-conditioned car? what’s that?) were rewarded with an icy venue and a great metal gig.

PEGAZUS started their set with “Cry Out” from WINGS OF DESTINY. Singer Rob Thompson then welcomed the audience and commented on the thick smoke covering Sydney as they flew into the party town.

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They followed with “Call to Arms” and “Patriot” from THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN with similar galloping rhythms to the intro of IRON MAIDEN’s “Run to the Hills”.

Now, what is it about these guys and MEL GIBSON? I started to get really suspicious when the next song in the set was “Braveheart” (WINGS OF DESTINY). This song was slightly slower in tempo to the previous songs but during the lead break it gallops into a faster riff and then to my disappointment slowed down back into the chorus.

One thing that seemed abnormal was the huge mix of old and new material even though this seemed to be a HEADLESS HORSEMAN tour. When touring with a new CD most bands play more material from the new release than old material and only include a few crowd favourites/’singles’ for familiarity, but PEGAZUS played an reasonably even mix of their three albums.

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The first of the song from THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN in the set started with a riff heavier than the beginning of the set, in a similar style to JUDAS PRIEST. I think it’s the darkness and heaviness of “Nightstalker” and other songs on THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN that makes me appreciate that material more than the older songs.

As is my habit, I can’t write this review without a few girlie observations.

Drummer, Robbie Stoj has cut off his hair! I’m sorry but this is always big news in metal. While he was setting up on stage, I asked a friend: “Um…what’s happened to the drummer?”-thinking they had a new drummer. The reply was: “He’s cut his hair”. I was amazed that it was the same person. Strange how a haircut can totally change a person’s appearance. Gone is the strong-set square jaw in place is a softer, more approachable looking face.

My next comment had my friend holding his stomach in laughter: “He’s swapped one 80s hairdo for another. He looks like someone from SPANDAU BALLET. No, it’s too messy. They were clean cut. TEARS FOR FEARS or the THOMPSON TWINS singer minus the perm but with the ponytail.”

And, my last comment. Thank METAL these guys have learnt to wear BLACK shoes with all black clothes, especially considering the amount of leather on that stage. Men, take note. Nothing kills your chance more than when you’re being given the head-to-toe treatment by a metalchick admiring your blackness when she comes to the shoes to find a pair of white trainers! Next time you shop for your feet remember these words: “Got any blacker?”

Enough raving…Johnny Stoj had pointed out Rob missed a song in their set list. Rob asked the audience: “Is heavy metal dead?” Seems to be the question on everyone’s mind these days. At first the answer was so lame, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking it was. Rob repeated the question with more balls, this time receiving a better response. The band then launched into “Metal Forever” (BREAKING THE CHAINS).

Next up was “Crusade” from the same album, then “Dragon Slayer” (THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN) started with the same atmospheric intro as on the CD with Rob speaking in time with the music.

PRIEST’s “United” was next with an obligatory sing-along and Sydney’s resident Swedish tourist metalhead, CC Deville meets Johnny Rod lookalike, decided to climb one of the front of house speakers and jump into the thin crowd bellow. He survived unharmed.

The last song of the set got me excited. “Enchanted World” (WINGS OF DESTINY) fired up with a speedy intro, but then the tempo slowed down into the song along with my excitement. During the chorus I think Johnny Stoj stuffed up the lyrics because he stepped back from the microphone exchanged looks with Rob and half smiling, half laughing.

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The encore started with (finally) another song from THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN-the title track and probably the fastest song of the set. As always, Murphy’s Law struck me with the special appearance of the headless horseman on stage during the song. Of course my film was finished and camera packed away. The song ended with a wonderfully evil “muwhahahaha” from Rob.

The night ended with “Wings of Steel” (WINGS OF DESTINY) including good vocal harmonies provided by Rob and Johnny.

Overall at times they sounded thin without twin leads (again I’m too used to the sound of power metal) but at least the vocals retained richness thanks to backing from Johnny Stoj but I had to keep reining myself in from yelling out “GIDDYUP!” every time the tempo slowed down. I would like to have heard more songs from THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN in the set.

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Although there was a lot of interaction on stage between Rob and Johnny, bass player Hanny Mohamed seemed to keep a low profile at time hiding in the darkness of the stage and not interacting much with Rob or Johnny.

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Even though they were a little slow for my liking compared to the music I usually listen to, I really enjoyed them. I’m glad I was wrong about the first time because I’ve now got another band to look forward to seeing live again.

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