Live at House of Culture, Helsinki FINLAND
Blackie Lawless formed WASP in the early eighties together with Randy Piper, Chris Holmes and Tony Richards. The band’s first EP “Animal “ A Beast” was released in 1983 and it was an instant success world wide. 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 re-union 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 the
sales of 1500 tickets and on the current tour the band sold altogether almost 6000 tickets in Finland.
Before the show Blackie did a brief press conference concerning bands current activities, future plans and some other various topics like the politics of U.S. There was actually not too much news there. New album will be called “Dominator” and it should be out in the end of November. Album will include nine songs, which 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 line up changes he said that new lineup is working perfectly and finally he has found a group of people who really are willing to work completely for the band. He also said that line up changes have not been constant and he’s been lucky when he only have had quite few, less than ten, member changes in the band while there are some bands like Molly Hatchett who have had a way more changes. 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 would learn who it has been. I don’t wonder that because it wasn’t too long time when there was one rumor which 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.
I also skipped both support bands and just five minutes before the show time I went into the arena. The show started with already familiar medley of “On Your Knees” and “You Hate to Love Me” but this time the latter was played almost completely which a small difference compared to past shows. “L.O.V.E Machine” was played next and it sounded as great as always. In the end of the song Blackie climbed on his famous skull microphone stand and dangled back and forth with it. That actually looked pretty cool and for and it seemed to help audience to give out their best for the band and at times bedlam was really noisy. Rarely played mid tempo rocker “Widowmaker” was a minor low point but the following “power ballad “Sleeping In the Fire” set audience literally on fire while there was a plenty of lighters shining on the air.
On the press conference Blackie promised that band will 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 on last summer in Sweden he said that he would like to play the whole “Crimson Idol” album if it would be possible? Anyway the song sounded fantastic and it was the first (and unfortunately the only) real surprise on tonight’s set list. “The Headless Children” was a nice addition on the set list some years ago and I was glad to hear it now again. 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 band have played “The Heretic (The Lost Child)” on some shows on this tour. It’s a shame it didn’t happen in Finland this time. A little hint for Blackie and co; how about addition of “Mean Man” or “Forever Free” on the next tour? Beautiful “The Idol” was another highlight of tonight and Blackie really sang his heart out on this song. This “calm down” song gave fans an applicable 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, on the last tour didn’t played it at all, but better late than never. Definitely the highlight of the show, there’s no doubt about it. Personally 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 brief summary here. Let’s mention the good things first. There was lot’s 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 brillinat. 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 band was using the stage set based on forth coming “Dominator” album cover while it’s not released yet. Secondly, show was very short. They did only 80 minutes, which is far from what bands usually play on these days. For example Iron Maiden and Mötley Crue are doing something like 120 minutes on every show. The set list is short but it’s also getting a little bit boring, especially if you have seen band a couple of tomes during past few years. The fact is that they are doing mostly the same songs tour after tour. I already gave 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 band is doing songs only from five albums? Where in hell are songs from their latest “Neon God” albums? It’s ironic that on last year band did a tour under moniker “Classic 80’s show” and even then they did more “Neon God” tracks then than they did now. I really hope that band will have more brave in the future. They should dare to be more than just a nostalgy act, drop and replace songs like “L.O.V.E Machine” and “Blind in Texas”, they should believe more on their new material and last but not least they should definitely play longer shows?
Let’s see what happens on next tour …?
On Your Knees
You Hate To Love Me
Sleeping In The Fire
Arena of Pleasure
The Headless Children
I Wanna Be Somebody
Blind In Texas
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