W.A.S.P. at O2 Bristol Academy 23.3.2023 with South of Salem supporting
Just a brief note of my trip to educate myself with a bit of historic heavy rock.
The frontman Blackie Lawless (guitar and vocals) is the only remaining original from over 40 years ago when the band formed, in LA in 1982.
I knew very little about W.A.S.P. when this trip was first mentioned as a possible. A name from reading Sounds music paper back in the 80s or maybe a peep at a copy of Kerrang magazine. I had a little refresher and thought it would be a shame to miss seeing this ‘shock-rock’ heavy metal band of ill repute on what could be the final tour.
A sell-out at the O2 Academy Bristol tonight (link for my blog on venue details), a filthy wet night, and the four of us here opt for the right-hand lower platform once inside after doors open. (With gig buddy Dave and seasoned heavy metal fans Neil/Max and Clair tonight.)
Support band South of Salem are from Bournemouth and they are pretty good. Traditional hard and heavy, rocky. I’m impressed given I’m hearing them cold.
I see they are playing at the Teddy Rocks Festival, near Blandford in April so I will look them out again when up there.
Before W.A.S.P. appear, the stage is prepared. Banners revealed with a theme of an old horror circus, two screens to show old footage and a large and very ornate mic stand. This centrepiece is almost ridden at times by frontman Lawless.
I was never going to know most their material but after some Spotify research I was ready for Wild Child which I caught with my camera video. (My YouTube channel link.)
It’s heavy, heavy metal with all the trimmings. Most of the crowd seem to know most of the songs and it is an accessible sound though this. Mainman Lawless plays guitar with his back to the crowd for short periods and from time to time ‘mounts’ the mic stand skeletal construction and swings back on it, hanging on to the handle bars. Who came up with this one?
It’s a gloomy light and the band are largely backlit – hence a bit of a challenge to get any decent pics.
Post break and into a three-song encore Animal: F*ck Like a Beast gets a big roar – how classically heavy rock eh – and the 1980s parental control lobby was illustrated through news film footage of the time. In relative terms it all seems like good clean fun these days.
The big song we all have to wait until the end for is I Wanna Be Somebody. Everyone knows that one. A Who song is thrown in to the mix as another encore: The Real Me.
They have some big gigs following this one and the set is a compact one and we are out into the night quite early. My musical education has been stretched a little more. I can still hear and we are off for a last pint. Rock on.