Wednesday 13 is a horror punk band fronted by Joseph Poole aka 'Wednesday', (He hates his real name apparently, which makes him sound like a serial killer!). The ex-Murder Dolls front man has also toured with glam/rock band Gunfire 76 and 'outlaw country' duo Bourbon Crow. In January Wednesday 13 released a new concept album 'Monsters of the Universe: Come Out and Plague' which the band recorded last September; it is largely this album that they are debuting on this tour.

If you haven't heard it, it’ s based on the loose concept of a group of alien monsters invading planet earth and infecting the populace with a plague, which sees our hero surviving and destroying the creatures in the final battle. Its a well trodden path of course and clearly influenced by Wednesday's love of old horror movies (think 'War of The Worlds') and TV shows, but it is brought to life by his conviction, amazing attention to detail and showmanship, that sees him go through multiple costume changes, masks and props.

The lights fall, and with the stage empty the opening bars of 'The Fall of All' from the new album crank in to gear. It’s the perfect opener, dark and sinister, and with strumming acoustic guitar over a swirling wind that builds and builds to a blasting hurricane. Like the prelude to a rock opera, the track sets the scene as the band members stalk on to the stage one by one to a crescendo of rock guitars and a growing swell of appreciation from the crowd, before the man himself shoots on like a bat from the wings.

Wednesday, in cape with a leather butcher's apron, looks like he just dropped out of a zombie version ‘Assassin’s Creed’. He stands menacingly behind the microphone with his head bowed like a praying monk, slightly crouched, gripping the stand with both arms, elbows pointing out to the crowd. There is a short pause while the opener finishes and the band explode in to 'Keep Watching the Skies'. Wednesday turns his face up to the audience, his hair blowing backwards, launching into the vocals.

It is a hellraiser of a track; classic heavy rock mixed with horror punk and soaring guitars, thumping bass and drums and Wednesday’s trademark growl. It quickly gives way to 'Astro Phyco', completing the first three tracks off the album. This track is Motörhead-style thrash metal with double speed drums that race along at a breathtaking pace. You can hear Kyle Catronovos’ keyboards swirling through the track, but honestly it is a challenge over the rest of the music! “I rule the planets Motherfuckers! Galactic Royalty But you can call me Astro Psycho!”

It' is not easy touring a new album, and Wednesday knows it so he breaks up the sequence with familiar tracks: 'Look What the Bats Dragged in' from 'Fuck It, We'll Do It Live' and 'Get Your Grave On' from 'The Dixie Dead'. This is a smart move because during some of the slower, unfamiliar tracks parts of the audience start drifting off to the bar before whipping back when they hear something they recognise. It will take a few more plays in the bedrooms of Britain for the album to take its place in the fans' memory banks.

And what an audience! I've been to some gigs in my time, but these have to be the best-dressed kids in town. Not a pair of blue jeans or a checked shirt in sight. It's full-on goth/rock/horror with some amazing get-ups donned for the night. On second thoughts they probably always dress like that - Cowboy hats, chains, black leather, animal print drape coats and heavy boots. One guy was wearing a sleeveless denim jacket with the words 'Guilded C*nt' sewn in to the back. He is a brave man negotiating the streets of Manchester at night in that one!

Wednesday is a massive fan of Alice Cooper and Kiss, and you can see and hear the references right through the set. There's also a bit of Iggy in there as well, particularly in the vocal; Okay, he's not knocking the heads off babies, spitting blood in to the audience or slashing his bare naked torso but it's all about the show and that comes across strongly. The supporting band do look mildly comical as they line up in the limited space with their painted faces and ragged outfits, but there is a real sense of menace on the stage as its all pulled together by Wednesday's total conviction in what he's doing.

The set is broken up into seven sections joined up by short pieces of atmospheric music like 'Bloodlike 666’ from the new album, allowing Wednesday to whip off the stage for a quick costume change...It is all very theatrical, with swirling synths and a haunting, clanging funeral bell. After the first section he reappears wearing a devilish horned helmet, holding a tattered shepherd’s crook, and it's back to 'Monsters' for 'Serpent Society', Wednesday screams, “Raise your horns, Manchester” and the crowd are on it. This is like Metallica, slow build stadium rock with growling vocals and his staff pumping high in the air. He's got this kind of threatening way of swaying backwards and forwards while gripping the microphone that's almost intimidating; he certainly knows how to work the crowd.

There is another break with only the band left on stage while a thumping heartbeat and monster sounds break out. I have the feeling that all these pauses are not a good idea. If you are going to present a set like this you need to hold the audience's attention, you need to keep on delivering. The breaks make it hard for the crowd to stay in one place, and I'm thinking maybe Wednesday should have learned this from the previous shows. After all this is the fifth gig of the tour.

He's back out again to 'Skeletons,' another familiar track from the album of the same name and once again there's the welcome sound of recognition from the crowd. Then it's back to the new album with 'Come Out and Plague' opening with a backing track TV report on how humans are being infected. This track's got swagger and bounces along like something off Alice Cooper's ‘Killer’. Then he's off again to a Funeral For a Friend-type break with heavy church organ provided by new boy Kyle.

The gig continues in that vein mixing old with new, broken up with dark brooding synth tracks. In one sense it's a good thing as ultimately the crowd get what they want. 'House by the Cemetery' gives way to 'Planet Eater', and our hero gets to spin some of that pseudo mysticism he was talking about earlier (“Manchester, people of earth, that's you…within the rings of Saturn the transmission feeds/Complete domination of humanity”) as the monsters lay their plans presumably, and the band launches into the track that is almost speed metal. Jason West’s drumming is stunning, and quite how he manages to develop such a fast, metronomic beat is unfathomable. It's a big song, and the louder it gets the more the crowd respond. Then they clatter straight in to final track of this section, 'I Love Watching You Die'.

“Manchester! I love watching you die.” Wednesday crouches on stage stalking his audience. I just love the way he says it,and the conviction with which it’s delivered! Then it's off the stage yet again, and there is another spooky backing track with voiceover which sounds like a police radio from an old B movie.

'Hail Ming' from 'The Dixie Dead' follows, and again you can't take it away from the band they are tight as hell. Wednesday is meanwhile hunched like a demon spitting fire at the audience who are well up for it. 'Bombs Guns and Gods' follows as we head back to ‘Monsters’ for the build up to the finale. It may have come from Metallica's ‘Black Album’ with its “Big Brother is watching you, just like nineteen....eighty four” chorus, but it still effective - “Big Brother is watching you/The thought police are out tonight and they know everything you think they don't know – wake up this is a fucking war!”

After this there is no break, the crowd need more and we are in Glitter Band territory – apologies to those that haven't a clue what I'm talking about, but 'Scream Baby Scream' from ‘Skeletons’ helps itself to the opening drum beat from ‘Angel Face’!, Then eventually the drum beat breaks, and it proves to be an absolute stonker of a track. Wednesday is aiming his ray gun at the audience and screaming, “I........wanna eat your brains” and in ‘Silver Machine’ style “I….wanna ride,” as he picks off the crowd one by one. Okay, it's a ray gun with a green light flashing out of the end, but he looks convincing and you know what? The crowd love it! It is high camp indeed, but, come on, this guy was brought up on Gene Simmons! Wednesday takes a bow and thanks Manchester!

For the encore the cloak and masks are gone, and on struts Wednesday in peaked cap and silver topped cane. He looks like the foetid offspring of Alex De Large from ‘A Clockwork Orange’. I love the look. It's my favourite movie of all time. He sported it last time he was in Manchester but with a top hat, making him look part Ripper, part Alex, but this is better. It is slightly camp perhaps, but the crowd love it as he launches in to 'Scary Song' followed by fan favourite 'I Walked with a Zombie'. I'm in the middle of the crowd now, and they are going wild. It's the full audience. They've ligged around at the back, hung around at the bar in parts throughout tonight but they know that this is what they have come to see, - Wednesday 13 in full flow and giving it full throttle.

And then it all comes to a halt again. It's Shakes' birthday (drummer: Jason West) and the band slowly crank up in into “Happy Birthday to you”, which is sweet in a Hendrix/’Star Spangled Banner‘ type of way! The crowd love it and claps and holler as the band descends mercilessly into 'Bad Things'.

The auditorium is full now and any part of the audience that was hanging back is now packed in front of the stage as Wednesday 13 finishes with the finale, 'Monsters Of The Universe', the last track off the album, which is, honestly, something of an opus maximus for the band. It's big, loud and it's brash. They finish on top form and leave the stage with bows and applause.

I'm not sure that the audience quite appreciate just how much early rock and glam is in this set. You can clearly hear elements of Alice Cooper and Kiss, but also early Stooges and punk bands like the Dead Kennedys mixed with thrash, horror punk and a bit of death metal. I also wonder if Wednesday was trying to inject more Gunfire 76 in to the band to soften the sound and maybe try and become more commercial,

I speak to a couple of fans and they blatantly didn't like the direction of 'Monsters' as it veers too far away from what Wednesday 13 started out with on his first few albums, particularly 'Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying, and the Dead.' and 'Skeletons'. I guess only time will tell whether he succeeds in bringing the hardcore of fans around.

I walk away wondering quite what I'd witnessed here – yeah, it was tongue in cheek but the showmanship was outstanding. Whether Wednesday truly believes in all this stuff is questionable, of course, but the delivery was faultless, and as I tumble down the stairs in to the cold Manchester night I can't help wondering if 'Gilded C*nt' will be okay on the tram home...


Photos by Melanie Smith
www.mudkissphotography.com

















Related Links:

http://www.wednesday-13.com
http://www.wednesday13.com/
https://twitter.com/officialwed13
https://www.facebook.com/officialwednesday13/timeline


Commenting On: Club Academy, Manchester, 11/3/2015 - Wednesday 13








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