LORDI / RIVAL / WRATH / SPARE CHANGE
Date: 14th February, 2017
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $25/$28 (€24/€27)
When LORDI announced the Chicago live date, I was a bit skeptical whether to attend. Not because I don't like the band (and in fact, the monsters’ latest album is awesome) but I did not quite like the size of the Double Door venue. I mean, I thought that this band would definitely attract a good crowd, so that venue could have been too small for the purpose. However, the situation around the closure of Double Door (by the way, it is not good at all seeing live venues closing down) move this show to Reggie’s and along my plans changed.
Seeing the number of people inside Reggie’s while WRATH were already thrashin’ their way into their setlist, I reached the conclusion that I was right about needing a bigger venue. And you should also consider that it was the (marketed) celebrations of Valentine’s Day but still lots of people had chosen to enjoy the occasion with LORDI. Ok, one could say that this was the best way to celebrate one’s love, and I won’t disagree because the result is the same; more people to see a great-live-band.
Apparently, WRATH reunited with the original singer from the '80s, so there was a lot of excitement, on and off stage. To my ears, bringing Gary Golwitzer back in the fold gave the band an almost old-school sound that is more appealing to me than it was with the previous singer with whom I had seen WRATH live some months ago. Back then, the band sounded a bit too modern for my taste, even though the songs may have been pretty much the same. On top of this, WRATH looked more confident and having many fans in the crowd helped a lot to see some Thrash action. No time was spent into talking, and seeing only three songs of the WRATH setlist made me feel band for missing their set but it was a working day after all. WRATH dropped the curtain with a fast cover take on MOTÖRHEAD’s “Ace Of Spades” which Gary introduced by pointing towards the Lemmy portrait on the venue’s wall was a nice touch and a wake-up call for those who had just entered Reggie’s and had missed the fun.
01. “Licking Wounds”
04. “Mother’s Hell”
05. “Draw Blood”
06. “Insane Society”
07. “Ace Of Spades”
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Next on the billing was the Chicago-based Heavy metallers RIVAL who had to rush because setting up their gear took more than it was planned and guitarist Neven joked about this by saying: “this will be the fastest 30 minutes of your life”. So, the moment everything was ready, RIVAL kicked off their set with “The Last Rebellion” and the siren-sounding guitars. The galloping rhythm, John Johnsson’s characteristic singing timbre and on top of everything the killer double guitar attack deliver the classic Heavy Metal with a twist of Power Metal loud and clear. Just by browsing the band’s Facebook page, I learned that the original lineup was reunited a year ago and, judging by the live performance, I think RIVAL have all cylinders firing. “The next one is about Nostradamus” John briefly said to introduce “Prophecy” which was one of the two (unless I missed one) unreleased songs we got served that night. This was a fast one with a nice headbanging groove in the center deliver by the fat guitar sound. Aside from the characteristic vocals, RIVAL have a solid guitar duo that exchanges leads like it is the easiest thing to do. The other new song was “Vigilante” which I liked even more, so I’ll keep an eye out for the LP release, something that I am sure is in the band’s immediate plans.
The hard-hittin’ (‘borderline Thrash’ one you could call it) “Hell Train” was the last song by RIVAL who managed to play the entire tape-to-the-stage setlist without over-stretching the given time. Well, considering how well/smooth their headbanging set went it is safe to say that no none had single complaint about keeping the timetable intact.
01. “The Last Rebellion”
02. “Half Alive”
06. “Death Stalker”
07. “Hell Train”
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Of course and it was expected that additional than usual time would be needed to get everything ready for LORDI because the Swedish band is all about delivering a show. Yeah, KISS is a major influence but a careful and more metallized eye should spot some GWAR resemblances. However, LORDI are more focused on the having-fun part of the show without the caustic /political humor that Oderus Urungus (R.I.P.) used to hide (although sometimes this was in plain sight) behind all the on-stage slaughtering. So, having in mind the show-aspect of the band’s set and the Eurovision-win as a background, it is easy to understand why LORDI attracted this number of people inside Reggie’s on a working day.
After some delay, the stage lights were out and the taped “God Of Thunder” track underlined even more the level of influence KISS have on LORDI. Of course, there were no explosions nor pyro effects like it would if the show was on the other side of the Atlantic, but the excitement seeing those big figures entering the stage kind of compensate for that. Well, to be exact it was Skeletor with his glowing eyes who showed onstage first, along keyboardist Hella, because the first thing Lordi would do was slaughtering He-Man. Yeah, Mr. Lordi spit on the head of the comic hero and kicked off the set with this keyboard-driven song. So, you can understand, it was show time alright! This tongue-in-cheek approach is what makes LORDI so fun to watch. The crowd responded right away with some "hey-hey" chanting and then enjoyed some headbanging during the faster “Babez For Breakfast” following the double-bass action. Contrary to the previous sets, there was talking between some of the songs with Mr. Lordi being in a high mood, pumped up by the enthusiastic US audience. “I know that some of you have to go to work or to school tomorrow but don’t worry; I called your boss, so you don’t have to go” he said before “Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein”. I know that some of you have some difficulty digesting LORDI, especially after the Eurovision win but I think we should not take things so seriously. Metal is also about having fun, so getting a bit cheesy, catchy or even modern are very welcomed in a live show. After all, it is all about the riff, right? It was fun seeing Mr. Lordi asking what AC/DC and KISS have in common and getting all kinds of responses but in some way he made his point and introduced “The Riff”. Oh my, those keyboard melodies sound extremely fun live, even though on record may come as too commercial for your die-hard Metal taste.
It was getting kind of hot inside Reggie’s, so I cannot even imagine how it felt for the Swedish band wearing all this gear... And this is why there were some short solos to give some time mainly to Mr. Lordi to get a refresher. The first one was a bass solo with some almost Rap background music but the climax of this was the slaughtering of a nun who tried to stop OX from doing his slap-bass action. “Bite It Like A Bulldog” brought back the music before getting another nice speech by the band’s frontman that went like this: “fans kept asking about this song but we always said no. And once they stopped asking, we decided to play it”. The piano-driven “Icon Of Dominance” was a treat from the past coming from LORDI’s debut LP some 15 years ago. The drum solo with the led-lit drum sticks was the next short break; “Do you know the name of the man behind the drums? It is Mana” Mr. Lordi said and topped this off with the “mahna, mahna” Muppet Show tune... hehe
Despite the breaks and the small gear changes or additions (the wolf’s skin was a nice touch before “Bringing Back The Balls”), the set was smoothly flowing and, to be honest, I cannot think of a slow moment. The audience was paying attention the entire time and it was not only Mr. Lordi who kept everyone looking; Amen did his part and, during the breaks, he was meshing around with Hella, so there was action all around the stage the entire time. Musically, everything sounded great and I think “Hug You Hardcore” was one of the heaviest of the bunch and I guess we should blame the groovy riff for this. The ballad-esque “It Snows In Hell” was a nice break for the up-tempo stuff and the exorcism attempt by an unlucky priest had an unlucky ending for him, and in case you cannot imagine how, know that the song that followed was “Down With The Devil”.
Of course, “Hard Rock Hallelujah” got everyone going (there may have been some who came just for that) and I think it proves the purpose of all the (mainly shallow) songs that succeed in the Eurovision contest; being catchy and extremely easy to follow. “Devil Is A Loser” featured the mechanically-extended demon-bat wings on the back of Mr. Lordi that really block the entire stage of Reggie’s.
The encore had “Who’s Your Daddy” and “Would You Love A Monsterman” and even if it had gone past midnight, the audience continued to be involved in the show, and contrary to what usually happens in a mid-week show that go a little bit late, no one left the venue. I think LORDI can become a growing force here in the States and hopefully there will be a time to see their entire production upon US soil. If you want to have some fun and headbang a bit, then you should not miss this tour.
01. “Let's Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be The Beast-Man In The Masters Of The Universe)”
02. “Babez For Breakfast”
03. “Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein”
04. “The Riff”
05. Bass Solo
06. “Bite It Like A Bulldog”
07. “Icon Of Dominance”
08. Drum Solo
09. “Bringing Back The Balls To Rock”
10. “Hug You Hardcore”
11. “It Snows In Hell”
12. “The Children Of The Night”
13. Keyboards Solo
14. “Down With The Devil”
15. “Blood Red Sandman”
16. “Hard Rock Hallelujah”
17. “Devil Is A Loser”
18. “Who's Your Daddy?”
19. “Would You Love A Monsterman?”
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