WASP Live at The House of Culture, Helsinki, FINLAND

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 24.9 2006

Live at House of Culture, Helsinki FINLAND

REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ

Blackie Lawless formed WASP in the early eighties with Randy Piper, Chris Holmes, and Tony Richards. The band’s first EP, “Animal “F*** Like A Beast,” was released in 1983, and it was an instant success worldwide. The band established a reputation as a ferocious live act, thanks to having naked beauties in a torture rack on stage and throwing raw meat into the audience during the show. The self-titled debut album included such classics as “I Wanna Be Somebody,” “L.O.V.E Machine,” “Sleeping In The Fire,” and “Hellion,” which all are true heavy metal classics. In the following years, the band released the albums “The Last Command,” “Inside The Electric Circus,” and “Headless Children” before they went on hiatus around 1990. “The Crimson Idol” was released in 1993, with Blackie being the only original member. 1997 saw the release of “K.F.D” and a brief reunion with Chris Holmes. Since then, WASP has released two live albums, five studio albums and has been almost constantly on tour. Although their record sales are far from the glory days, people still are interested to see them play live. Tonight’s show at House of Culture was sold out with 1500 tickets, and on the current tour, the band sold almost 6000 tickets in Finland.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Before the show Blackie did a brief press conference concerning the band’s current activities, future plans, and some other various topics like the politics of the U.S. There was not much news there. The new album will be called “Dominator,” It should be out at the end of November. Album will include nine songs. Two of them are cover songs, Deep Purple’s “Burn,” and some CCR track, and it will be a kind of theme album in a vein of early WASP albums. When he was asked about the constant lineup changes, he said that the new lineup is working perfectly, and finally, he has found a group of people willing to work entirely for the band. He also said that lineup changes have not been constant, and he’s been lucky when he only has had quite a few, less than ten, member changes in the band when there are bands like Molly Hatchett with much more changes in the band. When one of the reporters asked about vicious rumors concerning his state of health, Blackie answered that the person who is spreading these rumors would face serious problems if he learned who it has been. I don’t wonder why it wasn’t too long when one rumor said that Blackie was found dead after the car crash. Because the rest of the press was all about President Bush and his politics, I’ll skip that section over.

 

SHOWTIME

I also skipped both support bands, and just five minutes before the showtime, I went into the arena. The show started with an already familiar medley of “On Your Knees” and “You Hate to Love Me,” but this time, the latter was played almost entirely, slightly different from past shows. “L.O.V.E Machine” was played next, and it sounded as great as always. At the end of the song, Blackie climbed on his famous skull microphone stand and dangled back and forth with it. That looked pretty cool and for, and it seemed to help the audience give out their best for the band. Rarely played mid-tempo rocker “Widowmaker” was a minor low point, but the following “power ballad “Sleeping In the Fire” set the audience literally on fire while there was plenty of lighters shining on the air.

At the press conference, Blackie promised that band would now play some really rare stuff, and he kept his word with “Arena of Pleasure.” For some strange reason, this gem from “Crimson Idol” has never been played live before this tour. Probably that song has been a wish list by a “new” guitar player Doug Blair because when I talked with him last summer in Sweden, he said that he would like to play the whole “Crimson Idol” album if possible? Anyway, the song sounded fantastic, and it was the first (and unfortunately the only) real surprise on tonight’s setlist. “The Headless Children” was an excellent addition on the setlist some years ago, and I was glad to hear it now. The only “negative thing” with this song is that while it reminds me about how great that album is, at the same time, it’s the only track played from that album. I’ve heard that the band has played “The Heretic (The Lost Child)” on some shows on this tour. It’s a shame it didn’t happen in Finland this time. There is a slight hint for Blackie and co; how about adding “Mean Man” or “Forever Free” on the next tour? Beautiful “The Idol” was another highlight of tonight, and Blackie sang his heart out on this song. This “calm down” song gave fans an appropriate breathing time before the next song, which was “I Wanna Be Somebody.” That song doesn’t need too much introduction here because it’s the best-known WASP song to date and probably will be that forever from now on. Maybe it was because of “The Idol,” but on this one Blackie clearly decided to save his voice a little, and he mostly let the crowd handle singing during the choruses.

The mighty “Chainsaw Charlie” followed next. Usually, only a half of this masterpiece has been played as a part of the opening medley. They didn’t play it at all on the last tour, but it was better late than never—it was now the definite highlight of the show. There’s no doubt about it. I think that it’s the best WASP song ever. The final encore was, as always, “Blind in Texas.”Well, I’m not his biggest fan of this straight rocker, and in my opinion, it should be dropped from the set, but most of the crowd seemed to be happy to hear it. That was it. Lights went down, and another WASP show was over.

It’s a time of summary here. Let’s mention the good things first. There was lots of energy on stage. The man himself, who just celebrated his 50’Th birthday, was still in fine form both vocally and physically, and there was no sight of exhaustion in his performance. Bassist Mike Duda is still running across the stage like a maniac, while Doug Blair concentrates more on his playing, which is brilliant. New drummer Mike Dupke did a good and decent job but to be honest, at times, I missed good old Stet Howland. Overall there wasn’t anything wrong with the band or with the show. Especially the newcomers loved the band for sure, but I have to give some critics here.

First of all, it must be said that it was a little bit confusing when the band was using the stage set based on the forthcoming “Dominator” album cover while it’s not released yet. Secondly, the show was concise. They did only 80 minutes, which is far from what bands usually play these days. For example, Iron Maiden and Mötley Crue are doing something like 120 minutes on every show. The setlist is short, but it’s also getting a little bit boring, especially if you have seen the band a couple of times during the past few years. The fact is that they are doing mostly the same songs tour after tour. I have already given the band some tips for the next tour but let’s give some more here. So far, WASP has released twelve studio albums, and there’s another one released soon. Why is the band doing songs only from five albums? Where in hell are songs from their latest “Neon God” albums? It’s ironic that last year, the band did a tour under the moniker’s “Classic 80’s show,” Even then, they made more “Neon God” tracks than now. I hope that band will have more brave in the future. They should dare to be more than just a nostalgic act, drop and replace songs like “L.O.V.E Machine” and “Blind in Texas,” they should believe more in their new material, and last but not least, include more songs on the setlist.

Let’s see what happens on the next tour …?

Setlist:

On Your Knees
You Hate To Love Me
L.O.V.E. Machine
Wild Child
Widowmaker
Sleeping In The Fire
Arena of Pleasure
The Headless Children
The Idol
I Wanna Be Somebody
Chainsaw Charlie
Blind In Texas

SPECIAL THANKS TO TOMI LINDBLOM FROM EASTWAY PRODUCTION !!!

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