Blackie Lawless is back by popular demand! And I do mean popular! The 80's shock rock legends W.A.S.P. debuted their 40th Anniversary US Tour show to a SOLD OUT crowd at the House of Blues in Las Vegas on Friday October 28th. Lawless has been all over the Metal Press promising a full on production with surprises for the die hards, and true to his word, he delivered.
Before I get into the set list, I have to tip my hat to Blackie Lawless. He knew that clips from the new tour would be uploaded onto YouTube before his sweat even dried. All eyes were on him, and unlike Vince Neil and that embarrassing stadium tour where he was gasping for air and wheezing every fourth word off-key, at 66 years old Lawless rose to the occasion. Gone are the days of Blackie resembling a disheveled Ann Wilson in her Bad Animals phase, this was "fighting shape" Blackie, at the top of his game both physically and vocally. He nailed his high notes while keeping it as raw as we all remember. I honestly haven’t heard him this vocally perfect since The Electric Circus Tour, he was climbing all over Elvis, his skeleton mic stand, and never lost his breath. The man trained for this!!
Strutting onto a stage that was adorned with tapestries resembling a vintage carnival, Lawless and the band (long time bassist Mike Duda, Doug Blair on lead guitar, and Aquiles Priester on drums) tore into a brutal medley of W.A.S.P. classics. "On Your Knees" started the festivities, and even though this has been a preferred opener for years, they attacked it with a new found vigor. Without giving anyone a second to catch their breath, "The Flame" (last played live in 1985) echoed through the House of Blues. It was
then that all of WASP Nation knew we were going to be witnessing something special. "The Torture Never Stops" (another first album classic) followed, which segued flawlessly into "Inside The Electric Circus". The energy inside the sardine packed House of Blues was off the charts, the circus had come to town!
I’ve seen W.A.S.P. live pretty regularly since the first album, and what transpired next was a first for me. Blackie looked out at the adoring crowd and thanked them with a sense of humility and gratitude. His 40 year career has had ups and downs, and he expressed his heartfelt appreciation to all of the die hards in attendance who made this tour happen. It was an awesome moment for all of us who have followed him through the ebbs and flows of his artistry.
For the rest of the main set, the funhouse atmosphere disappeared, replaced by multiple video screens, creating an immersive environment for the viewer. The original "L.O.V.E. Machine" & "Wild Child" videos enhanced the performances of these early MTV hits, black and white Civil War photos surrounded the venue for the intense "Heavens Hung In Black", along with a visual accompaniment to the suite of Crimson Idol songs -"Arena of Pleasure", "The Idol", and "The Great Misconception of Me". As the band left the stage, it was obvious from the ferocious applause they had to return.
The first encore was a mainstay of their live show, "Chainsaw Charlie" (Murders in the Rue Morgue), the gut wrenching "Trail of Tears", and another shock of the evening - the long awaited return of "Blind in Texas"!
W.A.S.P attempted to leave one more time only to be drawn back by deafening applause. Spread out on all the screens, and over the PA, was a play by play recap of the PMRC debacle. We were treated to footage of the hearings, the Washington Wives decrying the corruption of the American youth, and W.A.S.P. earning their place on the ‘Filthy 15’, a rogues gallery of the fifteen bands who were trying to brainwash kids and destroy the USA. For the first time in 16 years, Blackie and the boys gave the audience an unapologetic, fist pumping "Animal" (Fuck Like a Beast) with everyone screaming along. It could have ended there but he wasn’t done yet. Before the lights came up, we sang along to their Who cover, "The Real Me", and the single that introduced W.A.S.P. to the world, "I Wanna Be Somebody".
Some may bitch that Blackie didn’t pour a skull of blood over himself or have a woman strapped to a torture rack, but this was an unforgettable W.A.S.P. show by a band who respects their fans and delivered on their promise.
©2022 Cip Cipriano
*ARMORED SAINT review and photos HERE
WASP photos: Jo Anna Jackson / Stardogphotos.com
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