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During the ‘80s, W.A.S.P. were definitely at their concert peak; the glitz and glamour was almost too much for one night. I was born in the wrong decade, god damnit! Still, you can catch the guys these days, but there’s a special feeling living during the raunchiest era of the decade and catching the craziest band of them all. We have a spot for hearing some ballsy heavy metal, and who better than to go balls-deep with more than W.A.S.P.?
The Lyceum, October 24th, 1984 was a place of magic and disaster at the same time; magical because one of the best heavy metal bands was playing their hits and a disaster because they fucking destroyed London. This was at a time where the band was getting very noticed, they just released their debut, and things only began to look better. The line-up was Lawless, Holmes, Piper, and I think Riley. Richards I’m pretty sure was around for the debut, but he bailed soon after and by this point Riley was calling the shots on the artillery battery.
Production for this is phenomenal by ’80 standards: the vocals are spot on, the guitars don’t screech and the kit isn’t stale, but sadly the bass doesn’t really cooperate. Even by ‘80s standards, the bass doesn’t really project itself over the other instruments and, most of all, by the crowd. Occasionally you’ll really see it coming alive like in “Sleeping (In The Fire),” but otherwise it gets lost with the rest.
This crowd is going berserk – the camera often pans in their direction, showing a frenzy of English men and women, boys and girls, students and likely drunken assholes all cat-shit crazy. You can always hear their screams and howls as the band plays their clearly distinct songs, and sometimes the applause will be so immense that they keep charging up the songs like at the end of “Hellion” when Blackie goes psychotic with the outro riff (he looks like he’s about to snap his neck from the windmills).
The fog is immense; often the band will be enveloped in a hazy mist, making the kit nearly subdued from the front. The band members, however, all look like menacing silhouettes – shadow men engulfed by the flashy myriad of bright lights warping the setting. The camera angles are frantic but smooth, transitioning between members, the stage, and the crowd from multiple angles and distances. During “Sleeping (In The Fire),” the moment is incredibly somber and the crowd knows this (they’re still screaming, but whatever). Blackie here really nails the vocals down – it’s impressive that he can replicate his voice perfectly during live performances. Even these days in his 50s he can still get those grainy vocals like it’s 1985. For back-ups he has Riley / Richards (I’m pretty sure it’s Riley) and Piper, who sometimes get their own few seconds to do lead vocals (“I Wanna Be Somebody”).
Otherwise, it’s Piper and Holmes going ballistic with the riffs and solos. These two are a match destined to play together with vigor; both men handle the leads remarkably. Piper does the higher ups like no other while Holmes captures our hearts with the twisted ones like an undertaker. They trade off so well with complete energy and enthusiasm. In fact, each member gives it their all, with a special three-way headbanging moment during the outro to “Sleeping (In The Fire)” – I personally feel that this song is the height of the concert. The colors are magnificent, the crowd is won over the most, and the band couldn’t be any happier.
If there was one thing I was caught off-guard by (though I should have expected it), it was Blackie’s and Holmes’ asses. Yeah, they’re pretty bare; leopard boots and high heels I remembered, but the bare asses move slipped my mind. New fans go ahead and see for yourselves how this band used to rock cities and still today leave city governments asking, “what the hell happened last night?”