SATAN / DAMIEN THORNE / MIDNIGHT DICE
Date: 11th October, 2018
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $18 / €16 (in advance) - $20 / €17.5 (day of)
Promoter: Empire Productions
This was a solid lineup having DAMIEN THORNE and the SATAN’S HALLOW incarnation MIDNIGHT DICE just before the almighty SATAN. Therefore it was a no-brainer driving down to Reggie’s Rock Club on that Thursday night to witness firsthand how the amazing “Cruel Magic” would do from the stage, although in full disclosure I did not expect anything less than awesome. And (as expected) I was not disappointed at all, but let’s try to take first things first...
Because the interview with SATAN’s Russ Tippins was already running late and thus we had to wait a bit more while watching DAMIEN THORNE prepping their gear. So yes, we missed MIDNIGHT DICE and the same happened with DAMIEN THORNE as we had to go backstage a couple of minutes into their set. However, meeting and discussing with Russ was an excellent experience and we got a good scoop of the band’s next plans with some TANITH news topping this off. Soon, you will read about all this.
Returning inside the venue, I was happy to see that there was a good number of people waiting to taste the NWOBHM the Newcastle gentlemen were about to serve. Before doing so, I got an appetizer from DAMIEN THORNE who seemed to be doing absolutely great, so hopefully I will soon get a reprise. Watching Russ, Steve, Sean and Graeme setting their gear up, I got as excited as I was before my first encounter with SATAN (remember, in capital letters we write the band names, otherwise the last sentence would go into the realm of the supernatural, right?), or maybe this time it was a bit more than that. You see, having seen how these guys get into high gear from just being ‘casual getting ready for the show’ to a full-blown Metal concert still amazes me no matter how many times I’ve witnessed that. In hindsight, I think the anticipation to feel this made me even more excited, and as soon as the “Intro The Fire” intro kicked in, I was into headbanging mode. Oh, the fast paced and guitar driven “Trial By Fire” stated that the Metal class was finally in session with professor Brian Ross behind the imaginary podium. Like I was expecting, SATAN took no time to warm-up and fortunately the same applied to the people at the front rows who seemed and, most importantly, sounded dead-on familiar with the setlist opener (that riff and those high pitched screams made our blood to boil) and with “Blades Of Steel” that came without pausing. This band has been on an impressive album-producing winning streak with “Cruel Magic” being the third of three album blows. Aside from the music and the live performance, listening to what Mr. Brian Ross has to say is a true delight (hence the professor affiliation I used above), even though he always apologizes beforehand in case his British humor offends someone. Oh well, aren’t these strange days with people paying more attention to words than they do to actions?
I think it was the video for “The Doomsday Clock” that brought Harry Potter into the discussion but it was Brian’s response to someone who shouted “fuck Harry Potter” that gave us the first solid proof of his humor and of his readiness and wit to respond; “I have seen the Harry Potter movies and I’d never fuck Harry”, replied Brian giving us the first of many laughs of the day. Aside from how articulate and fast-thinker Brian Ross is, he’s also the definition of a frontman being comfortable onstage. I mean, can you name one performer who will be unwrapping a throat lozenge while being at the center of the stage and looked cool doing so?
The two guitarists make a powerful duo each and every time, even though Steve and Russ are of a different guitar-playing style; the former is more straightforward Heavy Metal, while the latter is more ‘70s in his moves and technique. Thinking a bit more, this is one of the many things that make SATAN such a killer band. After the Dr. Who mention before the fantastic “Twenty Twenty Five”, Brian got serious saying how appalling he finds people killing people, even though these days there is an increase of such horrible and senseless doings; cue the fitting marching drum sounds of the faster “The Devil's Infantry”. Oh yeah, headbanging was going stronger and stronger.
As I said, these Brits are on a roll and have produced three awesome albums back to back, and another impressive thing to note is that the songs from all the SATAN eras pair amazingly together. Going from “Into The Mouth Of Eternity” from the latest LP all the way to debut with “Break Free” did not feel like there are three and a half decades in between. Ok, the old(er) metalheads were more enthusiastic for the oldies, but I am sure once the new ones have settled, they will be considered as classics too. And then, it was back to “Cruel Magic” with Brian delivering the vocals of “Ophidian” with a sending-shivers-down-your-spine performance. And this, my friends, is the difference between singing and performing; the latter requires the rare ability to add passion and feeling to the lyrics sung. Fists were pumping and the singing-along was quite loud during the up-tempo “Siege Mentality” and the momentum gathered bled into the next one. Russ took a step closer to the center of the stage and without saying something, he blasted the opening riff of the a-m-a-z-i-n-g “Incantations”. Damn, the riffs and the Eastern-sounding vocal melodies are perfect to sing/chant along, and that’s not my opinion but rather a fact...
I could not help but laugh with the irony of what Brian said as a preamble to “Cruel Magic”; but before doing so, he explained how people should live in peace no matter their religion affiliations. He leads by example as his wife is a Pagan and he is a Christian and have no issues about this. And here is the irony that put a smile on my face; a Christian singing on a band called SATAN… fighting the system from inside, I guess… To my disappointment, the last song from “Cruel Magic” was “Legions Hellbound” and not my favorite “Ghosts Of Monongah”, although in all honesty if they did the entire album live right there would have been amazing. Sure, it is tough to leave the classics out, but at the same time we should celebrate those longtime running bands that are still producing great albums. Especially if you consider that there are not many of them.
After “Testimony”, the Brits left the stage but soon enough, and after some chanting “ten more songs”, we got “Time To Die” and “Alone In The Dock” which Brian introduced by saying: “back in 1983, we did an album that is considered a classic”, getting everyone (especially the ones with some grey hairs) excited for one more time. The moment the show ended, I started wondering when SATAN will be back to the US, and hopefully this will not take much. Hail SATAN!
01. “Into The Fire” (intro) / “Trial By Fire”
02. “Blades Of Steel”
03. “The Doomsday Clock”
04. “Twenty Twenty Five”
05. “The Devil's Infantry”
06. “Into The Mouth Of Eternity”
07. “Break Free”
09. “Siege Mentality”
11. “Cruel Magic”
12. “Legions Hellbound”
14. “Time To Die”
15. “Alone In The Dock”
(click to enlarge)