("Wetlands", N.Y.C., Jan.1997)

The collective opinions of all those who had previously witnessed Manowar live, of which I hadn't yet, was that they were extremely loud. So much so that many of the club personnel on hand found it necessary to wear earplugs - I did not however I'm proud to say although I've already resolved to the fact that I'll be about 90% deaf by the time I reach 30. But to put it directly, the self-proclaimed loudest band on earth would not dare own down to that hard earned reputation whether it be at their prime in 1986 or today 10 years later. The real leaders of the heavy metal revolution immediately made their presence felt and did so in the true chivalrous fashion they've come to be known for in spite of the noticeable absence of their trademark clubs and animal skins - not to mention the bar's limited confines. The earshattering voice at the forefront of the bands' sound, Eric Adams was at the top of his game as the band roared through such early classics as lead track "Manowar", "Kill With Power", and "Kings Of Metal". As the show progressed, I found myself gaining a newly discovered respect for the band which up till then had remained almost like a myth to me -- it was an indescribable exuberance actually seeing them up there in person. On stage they were lacking in neither the skill, attitude nor intensity I had come to expect - they took seriously what they do. It was easy to see how they've attained such a devoted following, as the numerous "signs of the hammer" throughout the crowd would indicate -- and it was hard to imagine how I could've remained so restrained (though not so hard since I really hadn't much room to move considering the crowd). The band now featuring returning drummer Scott Columbus as well as new guitarist Kyle _________, played with both "power" and "precision" the latter of which should not be taken lightly. The band sounded very tight certainly not as though they'd been away from the stage for very long, but highlighted by the vocal prowess of lead man Eric Adams whom aside from a few audio glitches early on, was nothing short of phenomenal. But perhaps even more significant than hearing them knife through such killer anthems as "The Gods Made Heavy Metal" and "Wheels Of Fire" was the way the band interacted with the fans. With the exception of an early incident where a fan rolling onstage almost brought the show to a halt, the camaraderie which existed throughout between the band and the crowd was obvious and that was good to see especially amidst a lot of the changing climate between some bands musical output and the current trends many seem to adhere to. Whether playing in front of 500 or 5,000, the band left no unanswered questions as to where their musical integrity lies or where they derive their motivation from. "Hail And Kill" aside from being one of the more "requested" of the lot, also proved to be one of the more visual attractions as the band altered the chorus in mid song. "Show, Show, Show your Tits" replaced "Hail, Hail, Hail and Kill" in an attempt to inspire a rather well-endowed female fan to flash the enthusiastic onlookers while she danced on stage, which she did not, but another soon would climb up and was only too happy to oblige - those Sexist Barbarians!! So now you can see how the band clearly looks out for it's devoted fans... of which may be a surprise to some, many were female! But musically the group needed to stand on it's own due to the clubs lack of space and as well it's somewhat deficient configuration disallowing many of the unfortunate number a chance to see the band without obstruction.

Sure, there were a few popular classics left out of the set in favor of a couple of instrumentals and the unexpected inclusion of the lengthy "Valhalla" off the "Into Glory Ride" album, which was met with expected crowd approval. But all in all a show that should have left no one disappointed. Ending with a somewhat unorthodox version of an encore, "Battle Hymns" blasted through the speakers following (Bassist Joey) Demaio's strongly put sentiments that it's bullshit for a band to leave the stage and let the crowd wait for them to come back out. Needless to say that was as well met with quite a lot of enthusiasm. Personally, I must admit to have being somewhat unsure at the onset, of what to expect since I had never seen Manowar before and it had been quite some time since they've made a local tour not to mention a release of any new material. But I'm pleased to say that the band has certainly not mellowed with age - right Lars? -- and using this evenings show as a measuring stick, at the least the band has proven to be a worthy adversary to anyone who today considers themselves "heavy metal" and at most hasn't changed a thing in re-establishing their stature as the true "Kings of Metal" past or present. However you look at it, Manowar still delivers the goods. Just remember, while other bands play, Manowar Kills!