It's Saturday night, and the only place for any self-respecting metalhead or rocker to be is Nottingham's Rock City. May 11th proved to be a riotous night of singing and headbanging, not just from the headlining act, either!
Rock City has always been my favourite gig venue. Small enough to offer an intimate atmosphere between band and fan, but big enough to give the bands and the fans ample room to play, headbang, mosh,and drink, it really is the perfect place to let loose. And my word, Saturday May 11th, there was a hell of a lot of all of the above – with added monsters...
HOSTILE – Jay Mills (Vocals), Jack Young (Guitar), A.J. Mills (Guitar), Alex Hill (Bass), Gunga (Drums)
The opening band on tonight's bill was Hostile. A UK band heavily influenced by Pantera, Hostile are part of KK Downing (ex-Judas Priest)'s project to bring metal back to the so-called Black Country, where the genre was born. Not only did he produce their record 'Eve of Destruction', but he also wrote a song for the band – 'Addiction'. *
The band put on a solid performance, with much shredding and headbanging. Vocalist Jay Mills prowled the stage like a younger version of Phil Anselmo, while behind him, Gunga beat the shit of his drumkit. Although many Lordi fans have a love, perhaps even a preference, for old-school metal, Hostile had no problem winning over the Nottingham crowd, and provided the first sing-a-long anthem of the night, shortly after running through the excellent 'Addiction' – a well-timed rendition of the Priest classic, 'Breaking The Law'. A solid performance from a band who I expect to be hearing a lot more from, very soon...
*On a side note, bassist Alex Hill's dad is Ian Hill, the bassist for Judas Priest!
KALDEON – Alexe Mele (Lead Guitar), Marco Palazzi (Vocals), Paolo Lezzioli (bass), Tommy Nemesio (Rhythm Guitar), Massimiliano Santori (Drums), Daniele Fuligni (Keyboards)
Kaledon, an Italian power metal band, were next on the set. The band performed as five-piece on this tour, as keyboardist Fuligni wasn't present. While this might have affected the scope of the show, it didn't hinder the band in any obvious way. They tore through a brilliant set, despite a muddy sound at the start, and gave a lively performance. Although there were a few technical issues, when Lezzioli's bass broke, the band just made a joke out of it and soldiered on.
Cut from the same cloth as Stratovarius (and there are some connections within the band) and Rhapsody, Kaledon's 30-minute set featured fast-paced, upbeat power metal tunes, providing a nice contrast to the groups on before and after them. It was a funny, ripping show that kept the audience entertained, which is no mean feat! I really hope Kaledon come back around again, maybe on their own tour, so we can appreciate them in all their glory!
LORDI – Mr Lordi (Vocals), Ox (Bass), Mana (Drums), Amen (Guitar), Hella (Keyboard)
Now it was time for the main attraction. After the stage had been set up, the lights went down, and the immortal KISS song 'God of Thunder' was blasted out of the speakers. The atmosphere was electric, and it intensified when KISS morphed into the instrumental tribute to late drummer Otus: 'Otus' Butcher Clinic'. Lordi had arrived.
After the intro, the band exploded into 'We're Not Bad For The Kids (We're Worse)', from their latest record, and all hell broke loose. Seeing Lordi live is an experience that will stay with you forever, and catching that first glimpse of them on the stage is just incredible. Ox and Amen gave it hell, while Hella's twitchy psycho-doll routine added a layer of creepiness to the metallic shenanigans. The song was held up nicely by Mana's utterly relentless drum-bashing, and Mr. Lordi himself was on fine form, screaming like a demon posessed.
New quickly gave way to classic, when the band revisited their break-through album 'The Arockalypse' for song 2 – 'Bringing Back The Balls To Rock'. Singing (shouting? Screaming? Roaring?) along to “Hail in the name of rock and roll!” on a Saturday night with Lordi is about as perfect as a gig can get. And it had only just begun!
'The Riff', the main single of 'To Beast or Not to Beast' was very well-recieved, driven by Hella's catchy keyboard theme, and the soaring guitar-work of Amen. It must be a great feeling for a band to hear people singing along to their new material as well as the older stuff. A sign that they have still got it!
'Who's Your Daddy' and 'Girls Go Chopping' follow, the latter accompanied by two PVC-clad strippers grinding sparks on stage. And that was only the start of Lordi's on-stage shenanigans. Their stage show on this tour was brilliant. We had Ox chopping off the head of a guy in a cloak, and Mr. Lordi shooting cold smoke at the crowd, or blasting water from a chainsaw water pistol (yes, really). My absolute favourite moment was during Hella's solo, though.
She was playing a beautiful tune on the keyboard, and then she would suddenly start twitching, bashing her hand on the same note over and over. Being a toy doll, somebody had to come on stage to fix her. This happened a few times, before the technician actually removed her head! Even better, while the technician held Hella's head in his hands, we could see Hella's headless body still playing the keyboard! It was clearly done with mirrors, but it doesn't matter. It looked absolutely fabulous, and highlights just how much effort the band put into their show.
All the band members had their own solo spots. Amen had a wonderfully creepy guitar solo, with moody lighting and a big wheel spinning beside him as he shredded. Ox gave us a groovy and very heavy bass solo, while Mana did a wicked drum solo that was relentless in its intensity. I can't wait to hear what he brings to the next Lordi record!
The setlist itself was excellent, a nice mixture of old and new. 'Blood Red Sandman' was followed by 'Schizo Doll' and the slow, Sabbath-y 'Something Wicked This Way Comes', before tonight's only ballad, 'It Snows In Hell', echoed around the hall, as snow-like foam fell from the ceiling.
'I'm The Best' was another new song brought to life, and Mr. Lordi stole the show when he was given a bunch of flowers and a tiara to wear. Camp as Christmas, it was a delight to watch him giving his all as a beauty queen winner as the band played around him. Hilarious, and fun. That is the essence of a Lordi show. Fun. Aggression, headbanging, screaming...and having a bloody good time. Once 'The Devil Is a Loser' ended the main-set, I realised that the time has gone nowhere.
The final encore comprised of two classic Lordi songs, a new song, and a very special treat: 'Hulking Dynamo'. This song was supposed to be on their first ever record, which wasn't released to the world until last year, but ended up being cut. It was included as a bonus track on last year's released, and is perhaps one of the oldest and rarest Lordi songs the band have ever performed live.
We then get 'Hard Rock Hallelujah', the quintessential Lordi tune, and yet another one that threatened the vocal chords. 'Sincerely With Love' came next, inciting much shouting of “Fuck you asshole!”. And finally 'Would You Love a Monsterman?', complete with the PVC-strippers eating fire, and Mr. Lordi shooting confetti into the crowd.
Saturday night's show was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Great supporting bands, and a flawless set from the main attraction. Lordi get a lot of criticism in the press, and I just think that if they all went to see the band live, they'd shut up. Lordi are at the top of their game right now, and I know that the sky is the limit for this monster metal band. One day, the legends of shock rock will no longer be with us. On that tragic day, we will need somebody to step up and take the mantle. Lordi are absolutely that band.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Lordi's drummer, Mana. You can hear the interview on Tuesday, May 21st, at 7PM UK Time, on Heavier Than Time! See you there!