First up from France we have Mystery Blue, a band I have not heard of until now. Originally they started in 1982, but not with the current line up.
The band have a solid old school hard & fast rock sound very suited to tonight’s bill with vocalist Nathalie’s strong voice going down well with an already busy venue. The twin guitar sound is fantastic with original lead man Frenzy in fine form along with Sylvain on the other side of the stage, the frontal line-up completed with mad bass player Steph who kept moving all during the set. I am not forgetting the powerhouse behind the band in the form of Vince, a killer solid sound from the drummer.
Mystery Blue pull from quite a list of albums with Nathalie having been quoted as sounding like Doro meets Toyah and you can kind of see why, but in a strong way as she sounds like no other female singer that I have heard. The band straddle that classic Warlock sound with thrash and I have to say it works very well. They rattle through a short but intensely enjoyable set. If you get the chance on the remaining dates go early and check the band out.
Next up we have German speed/thrash band Rezet touring on the back of the fantastic new album Reality is a Lie. The band steamed through a stunning short set during which they sounded like a young Megadeth, with the same intensity. The front man, lead guitar/vocalist Ricky, is a powerhouse of a player with the voice to match his playing – a joy to watch. His fencing partner Thorben is no mean plucker himself, with the two just bouncing of each other and obviously enjoying it. They started the band back in 2003 when they were only 12 and 13, would you believe.
The rhythm section is no less impressive with Lucas on bass and Bastian on drums. Lucas barely stands still – I do like to see a bass player move and his co-pilot at the rear, Bastion, is a pure animal on those drums. I have not enjoyed a speed/thrash band like this in a long time. Get the album and, again, get along to the gig early to catch this band as they cannot be small-time for long with this kind of quality both live and recorded. A great wee find for my music collection.
So to the legends that are Anvil. We have all seen the film, we laughed and we cried with them… if not, why not!!. I’m a touch old school as I first saw the boys back in 1983 at the Reading Rock Festival and they have not changed a bit. The band have a new bass player in the form of madman Chris Robertson who joined the team in 2014 and he is some player – and a great vocal foil for Lips bringing a fuller sound to some of the songs tonight.
Anvil are touring on the back of the excellent new opus Anvil is Anvil. First up, though, is the pounding rifftastic “March of the Crabs” from 1982’s seminal album Metal on Metal. It’s truly hard to believe this is almost their fortieth year as a band. They’re truly stunning and the crowd think so too, as Lips plays a good part of the song in the crowd.
We go straight into hell with 666 from the same album with the crowd simply loving it. Lips may have a few more wrinkles but, man, he can play that guitar and the voice has lost none of its vigour. Robb is truly stunning in the background powering away as the crowd sing along with “666”. The riff master takes us back to 1981 with “Ooh Baby” from Hard’n’Heavy, another crowd sing along.
With classics such as this you do wonder where they would be had life not messed them about. We get a modern classic now with some “Badass Rock’n’Roll” from Hope in Hell with all the band going for it. You see Chris really going for it here and the crowd singing along – one of my favourite tracks tonight. A bit of Forged in Fire now in the form of “Winged Assassins” and you can hear where a lot of the modern thrash bands got their sound from.
Many bands owe a lot to the power that is Anvil, you can’t beat the old stuff. From the same album we are now “Free as the Wind” with its old school Maiden thumping running bass lines. Old school metal at its best. The band set us “On Fire” now as Robb powers away with Lips on fine form and he is very much ‘on fire’ with this track. Next we head to the high seas to cool down with some “Daggers and Rum” from the new album. Yo-ho-ho… you just want to stamp your feet and yell “Daggers and Rum!” along with him.
We head back to This is Thirteen with the title track from the album, before we get the headbanging going with that classic killer that is “Mothra”. You can tell what the crowd are here for as they sing along. A wee bit of jazz drumming from Robb in the form of the stunning “Swing Thing” from Juggernaut of Justice follows. Simply jaw dropping brilliance showing exactly why a lot of drummers have followed on from him.
We “Die for a Lie”, a political stab at terrorism from the boys off the new album. The pace they put into the new tracks has not slowed down for the early stuff. We head into the last couple of tracks starting with what else but “Metal on Metal”, the track most metal bands wish they had written. This track will go down in true metal history as a outright classic, still sounding as fresh now as it did in 1982. The band close a truly stunning and sweaty performance with a cover of “Born to be Wild” and, yes, they really were!
This was a performance that had it all in the true classic heavy metal style: loud guitars, thumping bass lines, stunning drum solos and not forgetting soloing with the vibrator. The film helped the boys get back up to where they should have been years ago and we can only hope that for the sake of true metal they stay there – because if bands like these die away, what hope do we have? A truly memorable, stunning night of classic heavy metal.
Anvil most definitely is Anvil and we salute you. Get the album, get out there and go see the boys in the flesh.
All photos by Gary Cooper, including the full set below.