W.A.S.P. with Motörhead

I saw Motörhead and W.A.S.P. at Jaxx in Springfield, VA. Motörhead came on before W.A.S.P., but their set was longer and contained an encore.

Stripped to a three-piece, Motörhead were in fine form. Lemmy was pounding away on his bass and singing up to the mic as usual. Phil Campbell was excellent with the guitar work. The last time I saw Motörhead on the Cross Purposes tour with Black Sabbath, I didn't think they were that tight. But this time, I thought Lemmy, Campbell, and Mikkey Dee were in great synchrony together and their classic songs really came off well live. They opened with Iron Fist and went on to play a fiery set that included Stay Clean, Burner, Going to Brazil, Sacrifice, (We Are) The Roadcrew, Ace of Spades, Metropolis, I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care), and The One to Sing the Blues. They played two tracks off of the new album Overnight Sensation, which included the title track and Civil War. There's not a lot I can say about their live show except that the band were as uncompromising as ever.

W.A.S.P. were spectacular. The voice of Jim Morrison led to their dramatic opening with a fast-paced medley comprising of Hellion, On Your Knees, I Don't Need No Doctor, and Murders in the New Morgue. The crowd got into them quite a bit. Other songs they played included Wild Child, Animal (Fuck Like A Beast), L.O.V.E. Machine, I Wanna Be Somebody, and The Real Me. Songs from the new album, K.F.D., included Killahead and Kill Your Pretty Face. They culminated their set with The Horror (also from the new album), where Blackie decapitated the head of a pig. Blackie's vocals were in top form, and Chris Holmes' guitar work was, well, angry. Unfortunately, the solos were drowned out in the mix. I was really impressed with Stet Howland's drumming.

The promo postcard I got for the K.F.D. album has the quote "Don't worry, nothing has prepared you for this." I was wondering with interest how their stage show depicting the rape of a nun with a penis-knife and the pig slaughter would be pulled off. As far as I could tell, the former wasn't done though there was a female dummy on the stage. The pig scene was dramatic, more so because it was done with strobe lights. I am not sure if the pig was real or not, but I think it was fake as the tail was curled up the wrong way as the pig hung upside down. The final bit where Blackie rips up two pillows and scatters a flurry of feathers onto the audience as the band disappears I thought was done very well.

Regarding the confrontational theatre bit, my opinions are pretty positive. I do think we need people who question the status quo and shock us and challenge our tendency to be offended. I think W.A.S.P. was not confrontational enough here, presumably due to the size of the stage (I think what would be interesting would be the depiction of a male rape, ala Pulp Fiction). The crowd reaction was odd. After the head of the pig was cutoff, the crowd simply stared mesmerised. While the crowd expected an encore, it kept mostly silent. I'd argue most didn't know what was in store for them.

After seeing them live, I can only say that while W.A.S.P.'s theatrics are interesting (some may claim it is over-the-top and unnecessary), it is the music that stands out. I was disappointed that the rock masterpiece The Crimson Idol, with the exception of Murders in the New Morgue, was essentially ignored. However, I was fairly happy with the set and the fact that it included some new stuff. Many bands reforming today capitalise on their old music. I think W.A.S.P.'s newest, K.F.D., is a terrific album though I fear it will be vastly underrated (much the way Black Sabbath's Dehumanizer is) in part due to their shock-rock live show. The live performances illustrate how good of an album this is, and if you remotely got into the album, I'd say the live show is worth checking out. (Also, for the record, I never realised the symbolism of the statement "all pigs die" until I heard Chris Holmes on the shootout involving the L.A.P.D.)

One sentence summary: two excellent and fun bands who put on excellent shows. Leaving, my thoughts weren't on the confrontational theatre aspect, as much as the great rock 'n' roll by Lemmy and company, as well as W.A.S.P.

Music ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org || June 14, 1997