Manowar @ Agora Theater, Cleveland (US)

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MANOWAR / HOLYHELL

Date: 11th March, 2011
Venue: Agora Theatre
Ticket: n/a
Promoter: n/a


I went to Cleveland on March the 11th to see a band that I dearly love, MANOWAR. I drove from Cincinnati to Cleveland and caught the show at the Agora Theater. The first thing I did when I got inside was to go to the merchandise table. They had these packages that they were selling, but I didn’t feel like buying a bundle, so I gave the lady at the table 80 dollars. The money was for two 40 dollars T shirts. She pointed out to me that I could get a bundle priced at 35 dollars that included 2 t shirts, a CD and a poster. I figured the two t shirts were predetermined but I was wrong, she let me have the same two I had already chosen and handed me back 45 dollars and a free CD and a poster. Where else could you find such an honest person than at a MANOWAR show? I mean, who gives back 45 dollars when they could have kept it for themselves and have it look like I bought a package deal when in fact I had not, and no one would have been the wiser. That was awesome.

I then went to find a place to sit. I hate standing for hours. I found an excellent seat because many people were on the floor. I had a wonderful view of the proceedings. It wasn’t long at all before HOLYHELL came out and started to play. I noticed that the bald guy that used to be with them was gone. HOLYHELL used to have two guitarists. Now they just have Joe Stump. I would imagine it was for financial reasons because it had no impact on their performance. (I shouldn’t say they “just have” Joe Stump, the man is a guitar legend) I absolutely love their singer. She is beautiful and she is a terrific singer. Maria Breon is her name. She is fantastic and the main reason why I like the band. I like her attitude, her stage presence and the fact that she looks very happy to be there. You can tell that the whole band greatly appreciated the enthusiasm of the fans despite the fact that they are there to see MANOWAR. Joey Demaio is their producer. He is probably more than that as well.  I know he has written a song with them. The show started off with songs from their first album and then went directly to songs from their self titled second album. They have a new album coming out in 2011. The name of the album has to be wrong. On Wikipedia it is listed as “Defecation In The Night”. I hope that is false.

HOLYHELL is an amazingly talented band. Everything they did on stage was just fantastic. I only hope they don’t get too big of a head and decide to leave Magic Circle Music. That would be a damn shame. I am sick of bands and members of bands leaving the people that made them who they are just to get more attention and more money. Screw that, show some integrity and go home with the same person that brought you to the dance. I was delighted to see the band get so much praise from the audience. It was very nice of them to be so supportive of an opening act. MANOWAR fans are special. I am not just saying that. It is 100 percent factual. Joey even proved that to be so later in the night. When HOLYHELL left the stage the lights did not come on, so I knew they were going to do an Encore. I was right, and it was “Holy Diver” by the late great Ronnie James Dio. The crowd went nuts and Maria was trying to do Dio’s moves on stage. It was hilarious. I am not saying I was laughing at her. It was funny, because she acted JUST LIKE HIM. The way he moved, his Evil Eye sign (IT IS NOT the devil horns). The sign Ronnie always made is an ancient hand sign used by Italians to ward off the evil eye and has nothing whatsoever to do with Satan. The Satanic bands that use it are only proving their ignorance.

After the song ended, the lights came back on and the crew started to tear apart the stage and set up MANOWAR’s own stage. Of course it was bigger and further to the back.  Once they were finished, the lights went out and MANOWAR came on stage. As always, MANOWAR starts to play and you don’t see Eric Adams. He stays in the back and sings a line or two then comes out to raucous applause. The fans always go nuts when he does that. I don’t know if he has always done it or not, but it is to be expected at this point.  MANOWAR played the entire “Battle Hymns” record from beginning to end without pausing more than to say hello to the crowd. I imagine they wanted to get it out of the way as fast as possible so they could play more songs that weren’t 29 years old. I am not knocking them for it, but I am not a fan of playing an entire album live. I don’t like it when any band does it. At least it wasn’t that stupid stunt that IRON MAIDEN pulled by playing their brand new album all the way through that was filled with songs that no one in the crowd knew. People always want to hear the classics. Get used to it because that’s the way it is. The difference here is that “Battle Hymns” is a classic and that by definition ALL MANOWAR fans are die-hards, so they already knew the songs.

MANOWAR did an excellent job of playing the record in its entirety. I knew all the songs so it didn’t bother me. The best part of the show came afterwards (after the first album was done) when they started to play their staples. The first song was “Brothers Of Metal” and got the loudest reaction from the fans so far. I guess if MANOWAR has ever had a hit song, it would be this one. I remember being at the video shoot for the song 15 years ago at the ill fated Al Rosa Villa. Yes, it is the same place Dimebag Darrell was killed, but back then in the 90’s it was the place to be. I have seen MANOWAR many times and the show I saw a few nights ago was as good as any of them. They always deliver. After the first non “Battle Hymns” song was played they blasted into “Thor -The Powerhead”.  I believe this song should be in the new “Thor” movie, but of course it will not be. That would be cool and Hollywood IS NOT cool and they haven’t been for decades. Joey would probably tell them to fuck off anyway. If he didn’t phrase it exactly like that, the word “fuck” would be used in some other context at least a dozen times. Joey is in love with that word. Thor is a great character and the song MANOWAR has dedicated to him is awesome. The Norse mythology they sing about is one the many reason I so dearly love MANOWAR. They sing about it in almost all of their songs and they don’t give a damn whether the critics like it or not.  Joey is probably actually hoping that they don’t like it.

I get sick and tired of posers that (yes I went there, deal with it) bash MANOWAR and call their lyrics cheesy. Those people can go to hell. MANOWAR is serious and whether or not you believe they are irrelevant. They are not into trends. They wear leather and they kick ass. “Heart Of Steel” was their next song and was epic as ever. The first few lines are sung by Eric with only Joey on acoustic bass until they get to the part where they sing “Burn the bridge behind you, leave no retreat, there’s only, one way home”. Great lyrics and the song always goes over big time every time it’s played.  After the song was over they went into full speed Metal mode playing six tremendously fast songs in a row (see below the setlist). I was hoping Donnie Hamzik wouldn’t drop over dead. He was their first drummer dating all the way back to 1980, and I wasn’t sure he would be able to do it. Well, he did, and he was perfect. I have no idea how a guy that age can play so many fast songs in a row without pause. Perhaps there was a pause because I do remember Joey coming out to give his patented F bomb laden speech. You know, when Joey walks out without his bass and only a microphone in his hands, that your ears are about to bleed.

Joey started out his speech by saying how great the MANOWAR fans are and how loyal they are. He said MANOWAR has the best fans of any band in the world, and then he went on to just about prove it. He had four sheets of paper and he started reading from it using it as proof. What was the proof? He named every single state and country that the people in the audience were from. You had people from all over the United States, some even thousands of miles away. They were from Texas, Arizona, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, West Virginia, etc. Then he listed people that came from other countries, Canada, and the most surprisingly, Japan. I am so glad those people where there. At least they were safe here in America and not back home where the terrible tsunami and earth quake hit. There were other countries too. After the third page, people began to laugh at how absurdly funny it was that people would travel from half a world away just to see a concert, but is that an entirely fair statement? Is a MANOWAR concert just a concert? That answer is no. A MANOWAR concert, as Joey said, is a giant family reunion in the name of true Metal, posers need not apply.

His speech was funny, he cursed like a drunken sailor, but if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be Joey Demaio, the most underrated bass player on the face of this planet. There is no other bass player like him. He can play the “William Tell Overture” and the “Flight Of The Bumblebee” on his bass. Show me someone anyone else that can do that, and make sure they aren’t sloppy. Joey doesn’t always nail the solo, but he comes very close and sometimes he does nail it. It has to be extremely hard to do. I forgot to mention that Karl Logan matched Michael Angelo Batio for speed playing earlier in the night. Karl can even put his hand over the fret board and underneath and then made those ridiculous looking hand motions that Batio does so well. I have never seen anyone tap like Batio does, until two days ago. Karl Logan is one of the fastest shredders alive. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It was awesome. He can play all over the frets as fast as lightning and not miss a note. The man is amazingly proficient on the guitar. He, like Joey, does not get nearly enough credit. I would go so far as to say he doesn’t get any at all. If he does, God knows I’ve never seen it, and folks, I’ve been around a long long time and I have seen a lot. No one ever mentions Karl Logan, Joey Demaio, or even Eric Adams when they talk about great heavy Metal musicians, but the fans know better. We don’t need a biased piece of garbage magazine to tell us who the greats are. We just witnessed it two days ago. Rolling Stone can kiss my ass. They have no idea what true Metal is and their magazine makes a really nice bird cage liner.

MANOWAR went off stage (to rest) and came back with three brilliant encore songs, “Warriors Of The World United”, “Kings Of Metal”, and much to everyone’s surprise and delight, “Black Wind Fire And Steel”. That last song was a big surprise and elicited a huge response from an audience that had just had their collective skulls caved in and faces melted by a night of sheer Metal ferocity. Yes , MANOWAR sings about steel, shields, kings, battles, death, Thor, Odin, Loki, power, might, honor, and courage just to name several of the many different topics they sing about, and not for one bloody second is there any cheese to be found. If you as a fan of heavy metal don’t get it, that’s fine, but don’t you dare say that we MANOWAR fans are the ones that do not get it, YOU are the ones that don’t quite get it. (You know who you are) The people that understand MANOWAR had one of the best concert experiences that you’re ever going to get. Yes, there was no pyro or explosions, because the fire Marshalls would not allow it, but the concert was great anyway. Joey also mentioned that it was the very first times anyone had ever heard their new sound system. He called it DAS audio. He said that the “DAS” stood for “Destroyer of all Systems”. I believe he was joking, but then that would imply that Joey was joking, and that simply doesn’t happen.

MANOWAR setlist:

01. "Manowar"
02. "Death Tone"
03. "Metal Daze"
04. "Fast Taker"
05. "Shell Shock"
06. "Dark Avenger"
07. "Battle Hymn"
08. Karl Logan guitar solo
09. "Brothers Of Metal Pt. 1"
10. "Blood Of My Enemies"
11. "Thor (The Powerhead)"
12. "Heart Of Steel"
13. "William's Tale"
14. "Hail And Kill"
15. "Thunder In The Sky"
16. "Hand Of Doom"
17. "King Of Kings"
18. "The Power"
19. "Warriors Of The World United"
20. "Kings Of Metal"
21. "Black Wind, Fire And Steel"