In observing the crowd that surrounded me, I could not help but be surprised at their numbers and age range. Then again I shouldn't have been, as the band that I had come to see were LA shock-rock veterans W.A.S.P.

With a career spanning nearly thirty years, one might think a band would start slowing down, but this is not the case with W.A.S.P. Unlike some bands that I could mention, who only tour when they want to sell their latest album, W.A.S.P. have been consistently touring throughout their career. W.A.S.P.’s dedication to performing live is mirrored in their reputation for excellent gigs.

The host for tonight's gig was Nottingham's Rock City, a venue I have always spoken well of in regards to catering for live bands. The main stage room's layout ensures that no matter the size of audience, everyone can still see as a raised platform lines the back wall for those on the edges of the crowd.

Unfortunately, I mostly missed the opening band, having arrived in their last three songs. I, however, noted from the audience’s reaction that they seemed to be above par of what you would expect as a warm-up act. Often a support band plays have only a smattering of people gathered at the stage, but that night it was an already large crowd that only marginally increased when W.A.S.P. came on stage. Blackie Lawless was wearing his “B. Lawless 29” football t-shirt (the 29 signifying the number of years in W.A.S.P.’s career).

W.A.S.P. played a diverse set with a series of classics, including the ever-popular 'LOVE Machine' and 'Chainsaw Charlie'. Adding a fresh element to the set list were tracks from their more recent 'Dominator' and 'Babylon' albums, such as their thought-provoking rock-ballad 'Heaven Hung in Black'.

Whilst earlier in their career they had been infamous for outrageous stage show theatrics that had rivalled Alice Cooper's – including pigs heads, exploding cod-pieces, and crucified nuns – W.AS.P. have mellowed with time and now focus more upon their music. They have, however, lost none of their edge, and Blackie Lawless continued to wear wrist gauntlets embedded with saw blades, and Mike Duda’s bass guitar included a rotating saw blade.

Mounted either side of the drum stand were a pair of large video screens that displayed a collage of video clips to suit the theme of the songs, or the original videos in the case of their earlier tracks. It was great to see W.A.S.P. play a live rendition of 'Wild Child' with its video playing in the background, although I was unfairly joking that we could play spot the difference given that it was twenty years since the video was made.

W.A.S.P.'s experience playing gigs was apparent throughout the night, as the band gave a relentlessly energetic performance. Never at any point was the stage not used to its fullest, with band members switching places with each other to give the full rock and roll experience.

I found Blackie Lawless to be a remarkably gracious lead signer. He left the stage for Doug Blair’s guitar solo and allowed him to enjoy the limelight. Later Lawless pitted two sides of the crowd against each other in a tournament to see who could sing 'I Wanna Be Somebody' the loudest, before bringing the audience together and have the crowd sing for him.

One aspect that did surprise me is that any swearing had been removed from their lyrics, most noticeably the intro to 'The Idol'. The reasons for this were not revealed, but I wonder if this is due to Blackie Lawless returning to his Christian faith. Whilst I have no problem with whatever religion Blackie chooses to follow, as one friend commented “Even if you cut all the swear words we know them by heart! Too late, we can't be saved!”

Lawless would often talk to the audience during songs. Unfortunately, I had no idea what he was saying as he was standing away from the microphone and the music drowned out his voice, so all I could do was stand and wonder what all the ambiguous hand gestures were about. Admittedly, this was, however, a small point of frustration and did nothing to lessen my enjoyment of the gig.

Cheers echoed as the band left the stage. As encores are a now expected part of a band’s set, you can sometimes find a desultory closing cheer, but that was not the case tonight. The floor was disconcertingly bouncing from the mass stamping of feet who demanded the return of W.A.S.P. After a prolonged wait that even had me wondering if W.A.S.P. would return for an encore, the band emerged to resounding applause and played three more songs. W.A.S.P. closed with their classic 'Mile High in Texas, before bowing to the night’s audience.

W.A.S.P. played an incredible performance that proves despite their 29 year career they have no intention of slowing down just yet.











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Commenting On: Rock City, Nottingham, 20/11/2010 - W.A.S.P.








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