Through a plume of smoke, Lawless made his appearance in white tasselled boots and iconic jet black hair, as the band immediately start into an energetic medley, setting the tone for the rapid fire set to come. ‘On Your Knees’, ‘The Flame’, and ‘The Torture Never Stops’ from their 1984 self-titled debut album, followed by ‘Inside The Electric Circus’ from their 1986 album of the same name, proved the proverbial electric shock the crowd needed to dial up the energy.
“Belfast! Are you ready!” screamed the front man, as the classic ‘L.O.V.E Machine’ - propelled by the notable double-kick groove of Acquiles Priester on drums - raised the roof.
With a visual feast already on display, video screens were revealed from behind the backdrops, evoking nostalgia with a host of quintessentially 80’s metal videos; a mirror of the band then versus now. And while the promo clips showcased a youthful Lawless, the energy was matched by the older frontman tonight.
Although a fortieth birthday party, a second anniversary was also being celebrated, and one, perhaps more important. Released in 1992, 'The Crimson Idol' was Lawless's passion project, and one that he's arguably most proud of. A succinct trio of album highlights followed, and while 'The Idol' may have slowed the pace, guitarist Doug Blair's shredding spotlight was simply mesmerising. Prog rock epic 'The Great Misconceptions of Me' with Lawless's his voice proving as powerful as ever. Closing this section with lead single 'Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the Rue Morgue)', it was a reminder of the depth of Lawless's writing abilities.
A welcome return for 'Blind in Texas' - inexplicably absent from the set for the best part of a decade - with some excellent dad dancing from Lawless and bassist Mike Duda was followed by another prodigal track, in infamous 'Filthy Fifteen' contender 'Animal (F*** Like A Beast)'. It's inclusion in the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre) Censorship list of rogue compositions (according to them!) may not have sealed its infamy, but it did added to its reputation, so much so that Lawless once said that he'd never perform it live again. Thankfully, his opinion has changed.
Referencing W.A.S.P's Ulster Hall sophomore appearance in October 1986, Blackie was surprisingly sentimental for a moment; “We got to the UK two weeks ago", he said; "and it’s given me time to think about what has transpired over the last four decades and it means a lot to me. I remember one night a riot happening outside”.
With a return to Northern Ireland many times since then, he concluded; “I don’t know many bands with the dedication of the fans we’ve had. I want to thank you, thank you, thank you for your many years of support"
Signing off with an enthralling ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’, it as a brief, but blazing evening.
With the revelation of a new album being recorded and the promise of a return in the not too distinct future, it seems that the W.A.S.P. story is far from done. What a riot.
By Jess Blair.
Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Warren Blair.
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