At The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., December 3, 2019

GWAR (Live at The Riverside, Newcastle, U.K., December 3, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It is somewhat unusual to receive a Health and Safety notification in advance of a show warning of potential damage to photographic equipment and clothing. There’s no doubt that such a notice wouldn’t be needed to anyone covering an Ed Sheerhan or Little Mix show. This however, was no ordinary show, this was the return of The Scumdogs Of The Universe themselves, GWAR.

The last time GWAR played in Newcastle at the old Riverside back in ’94, it was one of the few shows permitted to go ahead on their tour that had seen them banned from most venues, even appearing on the front pages of the national press as a corrupting force of our youth.

Before the return of GWAR to the Newcastle stage, French Canadian Progressive Thrashers, VOIVOD, gave a masterclass in just why they are proud holders of the prestigious Juno Award for their 14th album, The Wake with “Obsolete Beginnings”, “Orb Confusion” and “The End Of Dormancy” highlighting just how justified that award was.

From the scything riffs and staccato, rapid fire drums of Post Society and “Psychic Vacuum” knocking the crowd into next week, lead singer Denis “Snake” Belanger prowled, menacingly across the stage while fellow original member, Michel “Away” Langevin, thrust the band into overdrive.

The healthy one hour support slot on stage flew by in a nano second with “Voivod”, the song cementing a reputation that has steadily grown over their nigh on 40 year career.

Before long it was time for GWAR to return and remind everybody just why they were banned in the first place. Fronted now by Blothar, who stepped into the huge space left by Oderus Urungus a few years back, these strange looking space demons grabbed Newcastle by the throat and didn’t let go until the end of a very blood-soaked ordeal.

As the opening The Salaminizer came to an end, on strode a portly police officer to remonstrate with the baffled looking Blothar. Big mistake. In no time this unfortunate chap had his chest ripped off spraying blood here there and everywhere before being skewered on a spear through a place only Vlad The Impaler would venture. Ouch!!

Flanked by Beefcake The Mighty on bass and Pustulus Maximus on guitar with Jizmak da Gusha holding it all together on drums, GWAR raised an infernal assault of granite heavy riffs and pulverising drums hammed up to 10 with tongue firmly in cheek. The costumes of each character were incredible and made one marvel at how anybody managed to so much as walk in them let alone play a show for an hour and a half.

With sweet little ditties such as I’ll Be Your Monster, Bring Back The Bomb, Beat You To Death, Maggots and Metal Metal Land there’s no chance of mistaking them for anything but the sleaziest band in the universe.

A swift visit from Blothar’s pregnant girlfriend didn’t end particularly well and his little offspring kept the blood count rising by the second.

A close encounter with his arch nemesis Sawborg Destructo saw the Gwararian equivalent to the Rumble In The Jungle except there were more limbs lost and a lot more blood.

With President Trump on a state visit to the UK on this very day, it would of course have been very rude not to pay GWAR a visit. Blothar and Bonesnapper duly paid their respects in the traditional GWAR manner.

By this time, the mosh pit was a sea of very wet and bloody people who’s feverish activity seemed to gather pace as the show went on. By the time Sick Of You came to an end an exhausted, blood drench crowd waded outside for some much-needed respite.

Photos and Review By Mick Burgess


  • 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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