Kerrang Issue No. 79 – October 1984 – Review by Geoff Barton
W.A.S.P. / Thor / Wrathchild – Lyceum Ballroom, London
Monday nite at a sold-out Lyceum, and the tingle is creeping up my spine again. The tingle that I felt when I first glimpsed Kiss at Manchester Free Trade Hall back in ‘76. When I saw Van Halen support Black Sabbath at Lewisham Odeon. When I came across Def Leppard at scuzzy Crookes Working Men’s Club. When I was bowled over by Rush, clad in satin and supporting Aerosmith in Toronto. The tingle that tells me lam witnessing TRUE GREATNESS.
Monday nite at a sold-out Lyceum, and WASP, prove beyond doubt that they are serious contenders. Not a horrendous hype, not a concussive collection of jerk-off jokers, not a pornographic pandemonium of bloodlustin’ bozos, but serious contenders. OK, so they’re ugly, so they’re maybe a little too old, so they’ve only played around a half-dozen gigs thus far this year but, hell, so-bloody-what?!
Monday nite at a sold-out Lyceum, and W.A.S.P. sure as s**t deliver the Sleaze Metal gonzo-goods.
Blackie’s boys take to the boards in a pall of smoke that hangs around pretty much for the whole evening. With giant skulls disguising the backline (also doubling as doors, automatically sliding back Star Trek-style to allow band members backstage access) and a tacky TORMENTOR cabin looking like a ramshackle outside toilet and positioned tantalisingly to one side of the stage, Lawless’ lotharios tear through a set that beneath the visual excess, is an immensely musical commercial Metal delight.
Monday nite at a sold-out Lyceum, and WASP. compensate for their lack of true vocal ability (when Backie sings alone it’s horrible) by adopting a scintillating simultaneous singing style. All four members belt out the words in unison; a full ‘n’ rich voice amalgam that soars majestically to the peak of a narcotic noise mountain.
Monday nite at a sold-out Lyceum, and Blackie Lawless’ stage stunts work sensationally well. He drinks blood from a skull. He tears open a pillowcase and covers the crowd in feathers. He chucks raw meat at the audience, cheekily trimming the chunks with the semi-circular saw blade strapped betWeen his legs — a master butcher, you don’t get this sorta behaviour at your local Dewhurstl And (potentially) most grotesque of all: he whips open the doors to the TORMENTOR shack to reveal a BIG woman, strung up and semi-naked, her body slick with perspiration, her breasts heaving, a bag placed sensitively over her head. The crowd’s necks crane for a better view and Blackie’s blade draws blood.., but that’s about all. In my voyeuristic view it’s all rather disappointingly subdued;
Monday nite at a sold-out Lyceum, and much of W.A.S.P.’s show is obviously Kiss derived. Blackie in particular has the ol’ Simmons crotch-thrust off pat, and he often skims ‘n’ scuffles back from his mike stand in the manner of a stackheeled Paul Stanley. Plus the habit of forever pointing high in the air at nothing in particular is an action lifted straight from the Destroyers in their stadium struttin’ heyday. A cunningly calculated gesture to make that fan 64 tiers up and half a mile away think he’s been singled out for special attention, Blackie’s forefinger was, I’ll admit a little overworked tonite. I mean, why keep on drawing attention to pieces of ornate plaster on a small auditorium wall?!
WASP quite obviously want to be Kiss, but (puffing on my critic’s firehat for a moment) I must admit I have one or two reservations about their ambitions.
As I mentioned earlier, the band could do with being a few years younger, plus their material begins to sound somewhat samey after a while. In their earliest dqys Kiss may not have been able to play too well, but they still came up with songs of the calibre of ‘She’ and ‘Slack Diamond’. That’sthe kinda standard WASP, have to strive to achieve. . at the moment ‘Animal (**** Like A Beast)’ is the only cast iron classic in their repertoire.