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W.A.S.P. and Belladonna @ Starland Ballroom NJ (7.31.04)

W.A.S.P.!!!! Quite possibly one of the greatest of the L.A. Bands of the Eighties has returned to support their newest album “The Neon God Pt.1 – The Rise”. Yes, Blackie Lawless and his team of maniacs were finally playing after almost a 3 and a half year absence from the touring circuit. It would be an evening to remember I was certain. Blackie always had been one of the premiere frontmen and his song-writing skills and musical delivery of them had seldom changed over the years.

The W.A.S.P. lineup is however quite changed for those who only remember the originals. On drums we have Stet Howland, who had toured the Helldorado, Unholy Terror and K.F.D. tours. His massive drumkit on the riser was an impressive site. On bass, Mike Duda (who runs around the stage like a madman), and on lead guitar Darrell Roberts (formerly of Tuff). Chris Holmes has been gone for a couple of years now, as has Steven Riley (who is on tour with L.A. Guns). Given that Blackie Lawless is the principal writer and composer for the group, it does not seem to make that much of a difference. Blackie is a perfectionist who will always surround himself with a killer band, and this bunch of guys were just that. A killer band.

The sound of the Overture from the new CD played over the loud speakers and then like a crack of lightning W.A.S.P. was onstage. It was insanity. Blackie is using this crazy microphone stand with chains and a skull on it. The coolest part of this, was the fact that Blackie was able to ride on and sway over the crowd. It was really freaky to see this, as Blackie is a six-foot plus guy. I tried to get some pics of it, so check it out.

Blackie does not do much talking, which was fine, because for me this often means more numbers to perform. Given the long break I had from seeing them, I really wanted more tunes. The audience was going crazy for the group and you could see the bartenders serving up a lot of drinks. There is something about W.A.S.P. music that makes you wanna drink, I know I stopped at my one beer when I realized I kept refilling it until number 7.

W.A.S.P. Set was filled with some of their classic numbers, and a few of the new ones, here it is for you to peruse: Hellion, On Your Knees, Electric Circus, Chainsaw Charlie (medley), L.O.V.E. Machine, Animal (F**k Like A Beast), Wild Child, What I’ll Never Know, Sister Sadie, The Real Me, I Wanna Be Somebody, The Idol, Gypsy And The Boy, Sleeping In The Fire, Blind In Texas. Fans might wanna know that for the Idol, Gypsy and Sleeping In The Fire that Blackie did all this on an acoustic guitar without the rest of the band. They joined him for the latter part of the “Fire” tune. I give Blackie the credit for his voice sounding better than ever, he has among the most unique voices in metal and to me he has only gotten better over time.

On the East Coast dates, Joey Belladonna formerly the lead vocalist of Anthrax was opening up the shows. In Europe it was Dragonforce (who I recommend you listen to based on their CD “Sonic Thunderstorm” alone). I was interested in seeing Joey play though because he always had one of the most powerful voices in the thrash metal genre that Anthrax was listed under. When we arrived Joey had just hit the stage and to my surprise Joey was not only singing but playing the drums as well. I am happy to inform the fans of the man that he still can carry some of the notes he used to with no difficulty. He also was a damned good drummer as he held up the time for the music. My only criticism is that I enjoyed him as a frontman so much that I would rather see him hire on a drummer and begin to walk the front stage once again. His set was filled with Anthrax classics and a couple of numbers from his solo release. I would say he played just over 40 minutes and given the amount of numbers we were enjoying I would have liked to see that extended.

Joey was very appreciative of the reaction his fans were giving him, and it was deserved since he put such effort into the performance. He encouraged fans to visit his website, as he loves to hear from everyone. He honestly writes back, and as a result there is an Interview on the site so go check it out.

Joey Belladonna Set: Madhouse, Bluntman, Medusa, Never Safe, Caught In A Mosh, Anti-Social, Indians, N.F.L.

Ken Pierce

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