W.A.S.P. (Live)

At the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K.. October 15, 2017

W.A.S.P. (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K.. October 15, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

When W.A.S.P. first burst out of the LA scene in 1982 their brand of Shock Rock made Marilyn Manson look like Little Mix. With buckets of raw meat, exploding codpieces, medieval torture racks and songs titles that set the American Moral Majority into a frothing fury. It’s fair to say that they ruffled a fair few feathers back then.

By the end of the ’80s W.A.S.P. had matured. Well, sort of. The stage show was toned down and the explicit lyrics replaced by those containing more social commentary and positive Christian themes as front man Blackie Lawless revealed himself as a rather articulate speaker. Their Headless Children album marked a shift in direction that reached a peak with The Crimson Idol. Considered by many as the pinnacle of Lawless’s creativity, a sprawling Rock Opera about an outcast, rejected by his parents dreaming of becoming a Rock Star only to become bitterly disillusioned once the dream became reality and ultimately a tragic ending.

25 years has since passed and still the album holds its place in W.A.S.P.’s repertoire, even following the release of a further 10 albums. The fact that the album was never played live as originally written save for a shortened segment during their 30th anniversary tour has now been rectified as Lawless has finally been able to present The Crimson Idol as he originally envisaged in its entirety from start to finish.

The moody, slow burning The Titanic Overture set the scene before The Invisible Boy kicked into full force, with Lawless’s gravel gargling voice at its cutting best.

Joined by long time guitarist Doug Blair and Mike Dudda on bass along with new drummer Aquiles Priester, Lawless was clearly having a blast as the heads down Rocker and album standout Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue) cranked up the pace.

With a specially commissioned film playing in the background visualising the story line, the twists and turns of the unfolding tale became all the more clear. The music enhanced the film and the film likewise, enhanced the music creating a rather striking live show experience.

In true concept album style, the full force Rockers such as Doctor Rockter mixed with the more reflective, acoustic Hold On To My Heart and The Idol along with musical interludes, narration and recurring musical themes that cropped up throughout the performance before reaching a searing climax and dramatic end with The Great Misconceptions of Me

One of the drawbacks of performing a whole album is a whole bunch of songs have to be dropped but that’s the price you pay for the draw of such a presentation. An extended encore featured a handful of their gold-plated classics from the chest thumping L.O.V.E Machine, the rabble-rousing anthem I Wanna Be Somebody delivered with an energy that was unshackled from the constraints of their main concept piece. With The Real Me and the dramatic Golgotha making up the four song encore it just seemed a little short and left the crowd baying for more.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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