Home Gigs Gig Review : W.A.S.P & South of Salem Ulster Hall – Belfast

Gig Review : W.A.S.P & South of Salem Ulster Hall – Belfast

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Review by Richard Henry for MPM

Lovely night here in Belfast and I was so glad to see the turnout for these guys on the 40th Anniversary tour, queued right around the corner to get into the Ulster Hall, the one thing you know is you’re going to get is a good sound in this venue, it never fails! Up first is a band that to be fair I had never heard of before tonight

South of Salem

Let Us Prey is up first, nice up-tempo number to get us started with, good riff and some nice drum work, the band work the stage well and to hear that they only have been together a relatively short time its impressive the way they work the crowd, chunky riffs a plenty and a good start to the night

The Hate in Me is up next, encouraging the crowd to get up and bounce on this one, punchy riff and plenty of heads nodding away to this, it’s hard to put my finger on what the bands style is, it’s a mix of classic 80s rock with a bit harder edge, maybe a bit like Avenged in parts, another great track!

Made to be Mine demands a bit of crowd participation in true Bruce Dickinson style, splitting the crowd in two, this one has a sort of Misfits vibe and when I say that I mean American Psycho/Famous Monsters era, especially in the chorus, another great track, really impressed with these guys so far!

Demons are Forever, first song that drops the tempo a bit, and a more ballad type intro to this one, this is dedicated to people who committed suicide during lockdown, it’s actually a really good track and a great pre chorus and chorus to this one, the crowd swaying arms back and forth to it

No Plague like Home, kicking up the tempo yet again on this, some of the guys in the crowd have heard this before as a few people in front of me are singing away to the backing vocals on this, pure rocker and a great track!

Pretty Little Nightmare is dedicated to the ladies, this is definitely a radio rock song, again it’s nice to see the band really exploiting the stage and moving round, out to the front, great chorus with a couple of the guys providing backing vocals which are done really well on this one!

Cold Day in Hell, this is the last one from the lads tonight, great closing track, maybe a little bit more aggressive than the previous songs, again it’s a great chorus that will get stuck in your head, really impressed with these guys for a band I had never heard before, definitely worth checking out if you haven’t listened to them before!

Next up is the main act, the stage is stripped down and there is a massive cage of circus looking posters around it, 4 of these get stripped to reveal screens after the first song and a really great touch is the sync up to the original videos playing while the band do the songs, so we know from that, that the band are on a click to sync up to the footage but also to sync up the backing vocals as well!

So, we start off with a bang and a lot of dry ice!!! The first track is actually 4 tracks in a row

On Your Knees – We are kicking off with the debut album, the first thing you notice is the massive microphone/bicycle stand that Blackie has right front and center, the other thing I noticed and to be fair I knew of him before he played in W.A.S.P was Aquiles on the drums, talk about an Animal, solid hard hitting drummer, really put the energy into the songs, Blackie was on form and we have Doug Blair peeling off the leads and backing vocals and Mike Duda handling the bass and backing vocals, the band kicked off hard!

The Flame – Straight from one track into the next, lot of crowd participation on this one with the chorus being sung away by everyone, another one from the debut and the crowd are loving it, well-choreographed at this point, the guys are back and forward and then hitting their mark when it comes to the backing vocals while giving a focal point apart from Blackie on the stage who is mainly planted in the middle!

The Torture Never Stops – Still on the first album, and it’s a swift three in a row the way the guys are doing these like a truncated version of each track before it breaks into the next one, it’s really good hearing all these early cuts live and again the band are absolutely on point

Inside the Electric Circus – Still really on the first track according to the set list, but in reality, we are on song four and we have jumped ahead to the third album and the title track itself, it’s a good choice from this album with really the only other you would want to hear would be 9.5 Nasty, again the guys are on form with the vocals sounding great, what you would expect from these guys, just a solid unit and a great stage show as well!

L.O.V.E Machine – We got our first let up and the crowd is deafening between the first medley and now this one, of course the place was in fine voice when this one hit with everyone trying to hit the chorus, I thought it was a really great touch to have the actual original video playing on the screens as well in sync pretty much with the music the band where playing although it did drift now and again but non the less a great bonus, really nice as well to hear Doug playing the solos 90% to the original while throwing in a bit of his own flair as well!

I’m a Wild Child come and love me, we kick off into the title track of the Last Command album, and again we get the video in the background as well, the crowd yet again getting involved with the chorus and singing away, it’s just a great party atmosphere in here tonight in general with smiles and singing everywhere, the band tight as anything and solid till the end where blackie lets loose singing long notes at the end till he runs out of puff, classic track!

The Idol, now this is maybe controversial, but this is my favorite Wasp album, as Blackie mentions that it’s been 31 years since the Crimson Idols release and in that statement immediately made me feel old as I remembered buying it on cassette! Anyway, here we get the Idol and I loved hearing this, the one massive standout for me was actually Doug getting a really extended solo with Blackie and Mike walking off the stage to leave it completely to Doug, really nice touch and some excellent playing, keeping the bulk of Bob Kulick’s solo in the middle but letting loose at the end, loved it!

Great Misconceptions of Me, this was an epic track on the album, and it really is live, long live the king of mercy, I for one was losing my voice singing to this one and you could hear Blackie really pushing on this one, the crowd were singing away as well, amazing track and one that always reminded me of something from the Who, keeping with the Crimson Idol theme…

Chainsaw Charlie – Picking up the pace after the two tracks before comes this stormer from the Crimson Idol, great vocals from the two guys on this handling the backing, and the crowd again singing Murders in the Rue Morgue section, great solos again from Doug and nice drumming from Aquiles, nailing all the fills and adding his own twist to some of them as well, solid, especially in the pick-up section after the middle, great live track!

Blind in Texas – It really is an unrelenting set it’s just another Wasp classic hits us now as we head back to The Last Command album for this one, probably so far, the loudest participation for the crowd, again it’s just solid from the guys and the solos and everything are exactly as you would expect, yet again we get the video in sync for the most part with the band!

Then that’s it, the first part of the show is over, and the lights stay down for what was a good 5-10 mins before the video walls light up again, and we get a good 3 mins of footage and text about a certain organization called the PMRC

Animal F**K Like a Beast – Now here’s the thing, I watched Blackie on this, and I am certain this was on a track and my mate beside me said the same thing on this, now yeah it was great to hear it and all the while it was in doubt if it would be done, but on the chorus I think it was a track, non the less the band played it great and as I say, great to hear this one “live”

The Real Me – We jump straight to album number four the Headless Children with the cover of the Who song, Mike Duda getting to fill Thunder fingers aka John Entwhistle’s bass fills on this, which he promptly threw away the pick into the crowd right at the start of the song, again we had the promo video playing in the background of this one, great track and slamming double bass on this one as well!

Last song, I Wanna be Somebody, and where better place to end the show than back at the start and on the first album, one thing I thought was class, was having a picture of every band member from the start right through to the current members on the screen while this one was playing and then thanking other people as well, the crowd where screaming along to this one, before Blackie climbed all the way up the mic stand at the end, and just like that we are done!

Great gig and as Blackie said he had a lot of memories of Belfast over the years and playing in this venue and I for one hope they will be back soon to play it again!

Photography by MPM

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