W.A.S.P. – 02 Academy, Glasgow Review

It has been 6 years since W.A.S.P. released an album, and 3 since they have played in Glasgow. Had the fans forgotten them, and would they deliver? Let’s find out.

Support for the whole tour come from The Treatment, and they also have had a bit of a hiatus. They burst onto the scene in 2008 to a lot of publicity. They have been on some of the biggest tours as support, but they never quite managed to shrug off the “support” moniker. 2015 sees them with a new vocalist in Mitchel Emms and a new axe man in Tao Grey.
The changes could be the click they needed. Mitchel definitely knows how to get the audience involved. He confirmed early it was his first Glasgow gig, and how he had been looking forward to it. He tore around the stage, he was on the left, the right, off the stage on top of transport boxes. He’s like a coiled spring, and his enthusiasm rubs off. When he says clap, you clap. When he says cheer, you cheer. When he says strip off and run at a wall… well, we never went that far, but having seen this band in the past, I can confirm what a difference he makes. The whole band seem much happier, and feed off of his adrenaline. Newman is just as energetic, running around like a hyperactive parakeet with its wings clipped.
The old songs were played to perfection, and I feel the door has swung well and truly open for the guys. This could well be just what they needed.
Before I go onto the main event, let me take you back in time a bit. I’ll go way back to the beginning with W.A.S.P. For me their first album was one of the best of that era. I may get shot down here, but even better than “Shout At The Devil”. I was a disinterested, rebellious teenager, and these guys struck a chord with me. All was well in the world till “Headless Children” came out, and the change perplexed me. W.A.S.P. going political? What was that about? It was more my issue, as I thought raw meat, naked women and exploding codpieces were the be all and end all during my hormone-enhanced youth. I can now look back at that album and realise how good it is.
I have always kept one eye on what the band were doing and “Crimson Idol” brought me right back to the forefront. This was an outstanding album, and when you look at all the later albums, no matter the line up, the songs are solid. Blackie is one hell of a songwriter, and going by the new tracks tonight “Golgotha” may be the one to bring them right back to the top of the metal pile.
As the curtains got drawn to reveal the three video screens, the crowd stood to attention. The audience was very split between young and old, but the fervour was felt by one and all. The guys have a seriously solid fan base. The searchlights prowled the stage and the screens showed W.A.S.P. of old and then we saw the main man stroll into sight. The crowd kneel at the feet of Blackie and the alter that is W.A.S.P.
The band burst straight into “On Your Knees”, and for a lot of us, the rest of the band are what we were checking out. We know Blackie inside out, so how are these guys going to rate? Well, straight of the bat they played down that classic like a bitch, but I will get onto the individuals later. Without much ado, we went straight into “Inside The Electric Circus” which just raised the bar even more. I know everywhere you go you will hear comments about Blackie, his size etc. but as far as I, and everyone else here will testify….. we were looking at a fucking legend. His voice was right on the money, his stage presence was what newer, younger bands wish they could bottle and drink before every gig. As amazing as the rest of the band are I am sure there were many, many people who did not take their eyes off this front man all evening.
“The Real Me” cracked the ceiling and raised the bar even further but the noise during “Love Machine” was deafening. The crowd lost it and I am sure with people of my age a little bit of wee may have come out! Blackie did not need to sing one word, in fact, you would have been lucky to hear him over the crowd. We got a bit of a breather then (praise the Lord), as Blackie went on to explain the delay in the album, and why the hell he hadn’t been to Glasgow since 2012. He touched on all the interviews he has done over the years, and that how a lot have focused on the length of time it has taken to get “Golgotha” out there. The best was him explaining how one interviewer (I am cringing even typing this) said that if it takes one hour to listen to an album, how does it take longer than that to record one? The crowd laughs as Blackie said the only answer he could give was” I am just slow, I guess”.
“Last Runaway” was the first of three tracks played tonight from the new album, and for me the weakest. This is not saying it is bad, but the two others were just downright badass, and blew me away. “Crazy” kicked in next with the screens showing lots of footage from the past, we got Beatlemania, The Doors, you name it and it was there. These must be images from Blackie’s youth. I wonder if he looked at these when they were released and thought I WANT THAT.
“Arena” went down well considering it is not off the fans’ ‘must-have’ set list songs. It gave me an opportunity to really focus on the main man and he was in his element. During the parts he was not singing he was owning that stage. He was shouting his blessings to the world and yes, getting in that little Blackie two-hand hair puffing.
It was also great to see him acknowledge that this is a band. It is not just Blackie’s band. I will mention no names, but there are plenty of bands out there who have lost some or all original members, and you just have the primadonnas left. Blackie recognises the talent he has brought together, and although he has probably been playing longer than these guys have been alive, they were accepted and solidified in the myth that is W.A.S.P. buy the Glasgow faithful tonight.
“Miss You” was introduced as being the first song that was ever written for “Crimson Idol”, but never made the cut. It is to be included on “Golgotha” and what a helluva tune. You can feel the Idol vibe through it. It fits so well, but I am just glad I got to hear it live, and can now not wait for the new album. Next up was a little mix of “Hellion” and “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and my voice was breaking, my pint nearly spilt (only saved at the last minute, as this is an instant death sentence in Scotland) and I was Woo-Wooing to my heart’s content.
The title track of “Golgotha” was last up before the encore. I have no idea how long this song was, but it seemed to last forever. It is classic W.A.S.P. This song could go straight into the annals of history for the band if this first hearing is to be repeated on disc. This song was where Doug Blair owned the stage and dropped the jaws of a whole audience. I had watched him all night, seen his energetic antics, and his solid playing but the solo in this song was sublime. It seemed to dance for hours at the hands of a new axe warrior king. This guy is the real deal. If Ozzy had found him he would be a name on every metalheads lips by now. Dare I say it, but we may not have noticed the talent straight off because he was confined to the bands older songs, he had no chance to shine. The faithful would not have taken easily to him making those songs his own, and he knew it. He bided his time, and exploded on this song…keep your eyes peeled for the name, it has a future that is yet to be written.
As the guys took a breather, and we all run to the bar, we heard the PA burst back into life with the sound of a chainsaw! About turn, and get back to that stage people. “Chainsaw Charlie” is just a classic… no ifs, no buts. After that, the guy’s headed off the stage again, and we were all a bit bemused. Is it over, already? No, it can’t be, and thank goodness it wasn’t. We were treated to “ Wild Child” and “ I Wanna Be Somebody” before they were gone for good. It may have been too short, and there will always be differing views around what songs should be included in the set, but heed my words, this was an outstanding show. Blackie was born to entertain, and he now has a band that can do W.A.S.P. proud and conquer the world once more.

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Review and images Ritchie Birnie

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