Live gig review by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
After appearing in the Academy on their last visit to Dublin in late 2012, it was surprising to see the intimate Fibber Magees announced as the venue for tonight’s performance by Fozzy. A heaving crowd have congregated and crammed into compact coves and corridors to catch the American heavy metal group fronted by part-time rocker, part-time wrestler, Chris Jericho. The all-ages event has attracted a mix of old and young, male and female to the Parnell Street rock bar and a mum standing nearby proudly tells us that it’s her son’s first rock gig. Tonight is the third show of the European leg of “The Cinderblock Party” Tour; following a Belfast gig on Wednesday and a gig for the oft-overlooked heavy music fans in Cork on Thursday.
Before Fozzy take to the tiny Fibber’s stage, Welsh rockers The Dirty Youth entertain the eager audience for 45 minutes with tracks from their debut album Red Light Fix, and their soon-to-be-released follow-up recording Gold Dust. Female-fronted rock and metal bands are unfortunately few and far-between, but never fail to spark interest from fans of both sexes. And vocalist Danni Monroe attracts plenty of interest with a strong vocal performance, complementing a style and sexiness that you just don’t get from the average hairy metallers frequenting this very podium. A chequered and sequined belly-top exposes her fitting mid-riff microphone tattoo as she bellows the lyrics into her bejewelled mic on its illuminated stand. Perhaps a touch too glitzy for this venue, but the five-piece band back it up with a strong delivery and entertaining performance, which is greeted with applause and appreciation from the audience. It’s great to see such a bustling turn out for a support act, even if securing a coveted spot close to the stage for the headline act is part of the motivation.
The crowd seem pleased with the proceedings thus far, and excitement builds even further as the road crew hurriedly prepare the stage, tripping over each other and banging heads in the process. The appearance of a theremin piques interest and sparks conversation amongst the fans; an instrument rarely (if ever) seen at a heavy metal show. Another topic of conversation is the A4 sign politely asking patrons not to stage-dive for their own safety and that of those around them, which is akin to asking the neighbour’s dog not to shit in your garden!
The chants of “Fozzy, Fozzy, Fozzy” have already started when, suddenly, the house music stops and the venue is cast into darkness. A version of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ blasts from the speakers and the unmistakeable voice of Ozzy Osbourne, after whom Fozzy originally took their name, is almost drowned out by the eager crowd singing along. Drummer Frank Fontsere, bassist Jeff Rouse and guitarists Billy Grey and Rich Ward navigate their way in the blackness to their positions before Jericho makes a flashy entrance (literally) in his familiar glowing jacket dotted with red and white blinding LEDs. From the outset, it is obvious that Jericho is an entertainer and is here to put on a show for his fans.
The inciteful title track from their latest album Do You Wanna Start a War kick-starts the performance everyone has been waiting for. The darkness persists throughout the track but peeking out from under his jacket and black leather vest can be seen a Phil Lynott t-shirt, paying homage to the legendary Thin Lizzy frontman, here in his hometown. The jacket comes off and the spotlights come on for the second song ‘Tonite’, from the same album, and the setlist continues with a mix of tracks mostly taken from their two latest offerings. Their mostly positive themes and tempos make a welcome change from the usual doom and gloom of metal, and the crowd and band members alike bounce around, as much as their confines permit.
Predictably, Jericho makes a point of expressing how much he loves playing here and how excited he gets to see Ireland on the tour schedule. He even cracks a cheesy bar joke where the punch line refers to his penis doublin’ upon sight of a beautiful girl. Puns aside, his showmanship never lets up during their ninety minute performance. The atmosphere is energetic, hot and humid, with sweat dripping from the ceiling. The crowd goes particularly, and surprisingly, wild for their cover of Abba’s ‘SOS’, during which much street cred was lost by dedicated metallers caught mouthing the lyrics. This makes way for a threesome of stomping tracks; ‘Lights Go Out’, an extended solo-laden rendition of ‘Enemy’ and ‘Bad Tattoo’ complete with theremin solo.
Instead of walking off-stage and pretending to return for an impromptu encore, Jericho hides his head underneath a small towel, egging-on the audience by slowly lifting it as the audience cheer and scream for more. The finale consists of ‘Sandpaper’ and another cover; this time the Krokus track ‘Eat The Rich’. All-in-all, an energetic show that exceeded already high expectations. Jericho instructs the fans to “tell their friends that they just got their asses kicked by Fozzy”, and they surely did.