Rolling Stone, Milan, Italy

I’ve got to say that this gig had all the ingredients for turning into a “Fabulous Disaster” itself and considering the trauma’s suffered throughout the day by bands and crew alike, I was very relieved when it had actually got underway.

On arriving mid-afternoon at the Rolling Stone, a seedy but fairly amiable venue close to the centre of Milan, it became apparent that all was not exactly what you would call…er, well. Problem. The truck carrying all the equipment, PA, amps, etc had not yet turned up and as far as I could make out, nobody seemed too sure about its location either. As time drew on faces grew longer and longer, including my own. By now plans were afoot to hire gear locally, an idea not relished by most, but something that looked like becoming a reality and better than not playing at all.

Moving on to the early evening, things were still unchanged and with proceedings meant to commence at 8 o’clock then time was running very short, However, shouts of ‘the truck’s here’ and a general buzz which suddenly spread around the hall, signalled time for a mad panic in order to get the gear in and setup.

Within a very short space of time, something that was not at a premium, headliners EXODUS emerged and made everything seem worthwhile after the past days events leading up to the gig, which had at first made for rather a bleak picture what with the all round chaos and confusion. Nevertheless, this was an important gig for EXODUS, one they couldn’t afford to miss, and with a mere hours worth of playing time left you could tell they didn’t want to hang around.

Opening up with “Last Act Of Defiance” Messrs Sousa, Holt, Hunolt, Hunting and McKillop turned the place upside down, although one thing did become immediately apparent the gremlins were still at large. Lack of soundcheck cannot have helped matters much and the problems continued to affect the sound right thorough the title track from the new album “Fabulous Disaster” and the somewhat older, but nonetheless effective, “‘Till Death Do Us Part”, guitars being buried in a sea of drums and bass. By “Braindead” things have begun to improve, in fact, this song as with all the other numbers from the “Pleasures Of The Flesh” album sound a hell of a lot better live than on record, they take on whole new dimension, perhaps because they’re endorsed by the lunatic behaviour of the band on stage, having got their act these days, well and truly together. You can’t fail to be grabbed instantly by the vocals of Steve Sousa, this guy has really developed an incredibly gruff style, one which is all his own and anybody who still yearns for Baloffs growl must surely now be convinced that Sousa is the perfect successor, having plenty of aggression yet being musical enough to handle a touch of melody here and there, when and if it’s needed.

EXODUS are fast emerging as one of the tightest thrash outfits currently on the circuit and although some say they took a step backward with “P.O.T.F.”, I think songs such as “Chemi-Kill”, which went down a storm here, only help to give their show a new and varied dimension, plus the songs are that much heavier live any way. All too much obviously for some of the more adventurous in the crowd with the odd one or two fans making a break for the stage only to be quickly restrained by the rather lacklustre bunch of security guys.

Guitarists Holt and Hunolt are always entertaining, particularly Hunolt who was performing some bizarre leaps to the front of the stage while peeling off some ever impressive solos. Old favourite “And Then There Were None” was an instant success which only served to strengthen the crowd’s enthusiasm, so much so that a stage diver managed to land practically on Sousa’s head – a perfect lead up to the “Toxic Walt”. With the sound having improved we got “Like Father Like Son” and the mayhem of “Deliver Us To Evil” at which point the PA. suddenly decided to emit some appalling feedback before cutting out entirely! At first the band seemed unsure of what was happening and the crowd reacted similarly, a shame, but they recovered well and when the PA. did finally cut back in again the sound was altogether better, better than it had been all evening, so the band grabbed the chance to tear through “Parasite” and “Strike Of The Beast” before being told that was it… or was it..? What else, but one of the all time classics, “Bonded By Blood”, a track that sounds as fresh now s when it originally appeared, brilliant and what better way to round of the show.

I asked Steve ‘Zetro’ Sousa if he thought the show had been a success?

“It was f*cking heavy. You can tell I’m losing my voice ‘cos this is the ninth
show in a row, tonight was the heaviest so far, the Italian crowd was amazing, these kids are like relentless. As soon as we do another album we’ll be back.”

Could you hear the problems with the P.A. up there on stage? “I could hear a little bit through the monitors, but the thing was that our equipment got held up at the border and we didn’t get it until about 7 o’clock tonight and there wasn’t a soundcheck, so we went on there in like a suicide pact, we didn’t know what was going to happen, we just went up there and did it. For the first song or two it was not miked at all, so when the guitars aren’t miked and the vocals are loud it’s trouble, but by “Braindead” things got ironed out. On the first song, I don’t know if you noticed, but we were all looking at each other like ‘what the f*ck is this sound like?’ and then about “Braindead” it started to click in, you could really hear it.. that’s just what happens on the road in rock’n’rolI! But we were definitely happy with the crowd and the show. The Italian crowds are completely nuts for thrash metal and we gave it to ‘em!” Miss them at your peril.


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