28 Years Later – not the third movie in the modern franchise that saw the concept of ‘fast zombies’ unleashed on the world but the amount of time it has taken Leatherwolf to get their arses into gear and return to play some live shows in our fair country.
If you don’t know the band and as such probably missed one of their live shows around the UK during August and September then go and do some research now. No…. stop reading and come back when you’re ready and worthy to fully appreciate the grandeur of one of the forgotten gems of the Californian metal scene of the late 1980s.
OK, so you’re back or you already knew what we were talking about. Either way, you’ll now know the impact that songs like “The Calling” and “Cry Out” had on MTV in late 1987. In addition, given the band name, a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” was also a no brainer to issue at the time to keep the band in the spotlight.
In 1989 everything came together and just as quickly fell apart again. The “Street Ready” album, recorded in the Bahamas, had massive tracks like “Wicked Ways”, “Too Much” and the instrumental “Black Knight”. It seemed like Leatherwolf’s moon was indeed rising.
However… the 1990s happened, Leatherwolf didn’t manage to capitalise on the promise the two albums had shown and it wasn’t until the band reformed a decade later that people begun to realise what they’d missed out on.
Before the band played, we were presented with a couple of UK acts to get the ball rolling. The Darker My Horizon, who bankrolled the entire tour (Kudos to them for bringing back one of metal’s great acts to the UK) and League of Souls.
League of Souls
Hailing from Stockton on Tees with its slightly ‘non-Californian’ climate, League of Souls played first and had the dubious pleasure of a 5 hour plus drive home after their set had completed. People often think that the rock n roll life is all gigs, hotels and after show parties but the reality is still that a working band will need to put the effort in, tour in the van, drive for hours and lug their own gear. Fair play to LoS for travelling down to London for this one.
Their set was a decent length, some 9 songs with a mixture of blues tinged classic rock, some progressive elements that offer a dash of Queensryche and the odd element of AOR thrown in for good measure. Crunchy British rock with melodic overtones. There was very little that could have made the opening act better apart from a nice cold beer in my hand and… oh wait.. I had that as well! A Great start.
Red Skies \ Bad Rep \ MIA \ Pain \ Landslide \ Losing My Soul \ Game of Life \ Hate \ Social Disease
The Darker My Horizon
Paul Stead, TDMH’s front-man was not a well person. With his voice going, flu like symptoms and the recognition that managing the tour, booking the tour and playing the tour as well had to take it out of you, Paul was struggling come the last date in London. Ever the trooper though, he battled on, got the band to throw in backing vocals when previously none existed (Drummer Darren “Oli” Oliver-Jones even admitting “I’m not sure of the lyrics but I’ll throw in the La La La’s”).
You know what, it worked. Paul’s voice wasn’t as bad as he made out, the band stepped up and what, if you’ve never seen the band before, seemed like it would be closer to garage, biker music, turned out to be a slice of very melodic rock and a great final warm up before Leatherwolf hit the stage.
There were more than enough people in the crowd that knew TDMH and songs like “No Superhero” got everybody moving early in the set. “Perfect” and “Afraid” delivered some cool harmonies which suggest the band are more used to joining in on the vocals than they eluded to. New track “Sleaze” shows great promise and “Dear Olivia” is sheer class. Hugely enjoyable set once more topped up with some quality beer from the Fiddler’s Elbow bar!
Functional \ No Superhero \ Perfect \ Afraid \ Closure \ Sleaze \ Dear Olivia , Paradise \ OK
TDMH & League of Souls Gallery
With Michael Olivieri departing at the end of 1990s and the band going on to record “World Asylum” in 2006 with a new vocalist, something didn’t feel quite right. Thankfully Olivieri returned in 2007, the vocals were re-recorded and the album reissued as “New World Asylum”. Although just a live CD has appeared since, the line up has solidified and the one that toured the UK now comprises:
Dean “Drum Machine” Roberts – drums
Michael Olivieri – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Patrick Guyton – bass, backing vocals
Rob Math – guitars, backing vocals
Joey Tafolla – guitars
Known for their triple axe attack, this was always going to be a show where everything was played to the max. Thankfully Leatherwolf did not disappoint and delivered in spades.
Olivieri looks and sounds like a man 20 years younger. If he can appear this fresh 28 years after last playing the UK (a fact he repeats often during the show as if he too cannot believe it’s happening) then we should not only expect them back again soon but also perhaps expect a new album from them as well. They defined a sound no other band has ever really matched and we the public demand more of it !
Wicked Ways is used as an intro at the beginning of the set before segueing into “Spiter” and “Endangered Species” from their 1984 debut E.P. When “Thunder” and “Street Ready” are played though, the cheers from the room increase in intensity. This is what we’d come to hear. Songs from those two classic albums and the memories that surround them come flooding back as Olivieri throws everything into his performance.
“Rise Or Fall” from the eponymous titled album of 1987 sounds as fresh now as it did 30 years ago and reminded us once more what a good year for rock music that was. In 1987 rock ruled the airwaves and MTV was king. “Rise Or Fall” just goes to prove we were right in our choices back then.
It would be remiss to not mention the quality of the musicianship. Dean Roberts looks like he’s having the best time of his life behind the drum kit and the smile never disappears. The three guitarists should in theory make the sound in a venue like the Fiddler’s Elbow almost a wash out however fair play to the man on the sound desk as everything sounded crisp and clear and each guitar could be heard when needed.
If I had a gripe, it would be that “Too Much” didn’t get played but short of asking them to do a two hour set, there will always be personal favourites that don’t make the cut. Classics that did make the cut however included “Gypsies & Thieves” & “The Calling” which just made my day. Closing out again with “Wicked Ways” was a clever move and meant the band just played on until they were done and then that was it.
Hopefully it will not take 28 years to get them back again.
Wicked Ways Intro \ Spiter \ Endangered Species \ Thunder \ Street Ready \ Rise & Fall \ Alone \ Princess Of Love \ Season Of The Witch \ Gypsies and Thieves \ Hideaway \ The Calling \ Wicked Ways Outro