Metal Hammer Uk - 4 1989
LIVE AT CHICAGO THIRSTY WHALE
Report taken by Paul Walker
One record store in Chicago alone has shifted 7000 copies of Manowar’s ‘Kings Of Metal”, which might come as a surprise to anyone who’s already written them off as a spent force. I happen to know this, cause a friend of mine works at the store and to say thanks, the band invited him out to spend some time during the day with the band, with myself tagging on to check things out.
Apart from proving that they’re genuine nice guys who enjoy having a beer and hanging out before a show, the also displayed their fitness by working out with weights in the afternoon, in preparation for a short but energetic show. Joey, Eric and Scott in particular were working out, and the band have a black belt karate instructor putting them through their paces on this tour.
The first of two nights was an over-eighteens show, in front of a sold out crowd of 2000, but the second was open to all ages, and it seemed like they’d taken advantage of having some smaller kids in attendance by squeezing in an extra few hundred fans. It was so packed on the second night that if you put your hands in the air to applaud, you simply couldn’t find the space to get them down again. Hype, I don’t think so. The house record for this club was sent tumbling by Manowar at these gigs.
Opening, as ever, with ‘Manowar’, it became instantly obvious that Dave Shankle is no Ross The Boss clone. The new guitarist has a style all his own. He’s more frantic in his playing, moves around a lot more on stage and looks right for the band. It became obvious that he’s stronger on the fast rockers than the grand anthem types, but if a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Tony Iommi was possible, Dave Shankle would come closer than most.
One thing about the Manowar show that seems to work much better in the U.S. is the between song speeches by Eric and Joey. Having seen the band in Birmingham and London on previous tours, and been a little embarrassed by the way the band make grand statements between tracks, it’s surprising to see how well it works in front of an American crowd. The fans seem to take this side of the show better, there’s less jeering or laughing in the crowd, but I feel they should have the sense to modify their approach to suit the crowd more, next time they’re in Europe.
They set itself lasted little more than an hour, but mostly consisting of tracks from the new album. They don’t have to rely on too many old numbers to get the crowd rowdy, the audience was rockin’ from the start, an ideal opportunity to showcase the new album live.
Classics like ‘Fighting the World’ and the mighty ‘Blow Your Speakers’ stood proud alongside ‘Heart Of Steel’ and ‘Wheels Of Fire’, complete with sampled engine noises, recorded by the band in a parking lot with a dragster revving up. The bass solo, when it came was unbelievable. ‘Sting Of the Bumblebee’ played even faster than on the album by Joey, but with complete clarity. Even compared to cranking up the C.D. on my hi-fi, the live sound that the band achieve is clear and undistorted. I’d never heard a drum sound like this before and I doubt I will again, except at another Manowar gig perhaps.
The stage costumers remain loin cloths, something I’d be glad to see the band get away from, but you must at least admire them for making a statement and sticking to it. Despite (or maybe because of) the loin cloths, the crowd was a typical U.S. metal crowd. Unlike the U.K., where Manowar only seem to attract head bangers in denim, leather and unwashed hair, this gig had it’s fair share of pretty American girls, and rock fans from thrashers through to Bon Jovi type followers. Of course the true heavy rockers made up the highest percentage, but it was good to see that in the U.S., a wide and varied selection of rockers can come to a ‘true metal’ show. In Chicago at least, false metal is in serious danger of being wiped out by the Kings of true metal.