Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
As a recent convert to the church of Wednesday 13, the opportunity to see one of two special Halloween shows in London was not to be missed. I’d heard good things about his Halloween shows, I’d seen reviews from colleagues before the band’s performance at Bloodstock Open Air and that had peaked my interest and when Wednesday and his band came to the festival in Derbyshire the show they put on (and what a show it was) was one of THE highlights of the weekend.
That festival appearance necessitated a return gig to see the band when they returned to the UK for the two shows on 26th and 27th October. The first looking at the 2008 album Skeletons, celebrating its tenth anniversary and the show seeing the album played in full. The second night celebrating the Frankenstein Drag Queens with the set being performed in full Drag Queen costume.
For me, the draw was the Friday night and Skeletons in full. Given the second half of the set contained nothing but Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 songs I think I chose well! Before Wednesday 13 took to the stage, we got a young band from Yorkshire.
As Sirens Fall
Their debut EP ‘The Hospital Party’ , released in July 2016 immediately drew some great reviews from the critics and with pretty much every local venue selling out thanks to the impressive shows the lads put on and the rapid rise of their reputation. Second EP, ‘Where Lost Things Go’ came out this year and they also landed one of the headline slots at Camden Rocks Festival. No mean feat for a band with just a couple of years of experience under their belt. The ‘My Only Ghost Tour’ started just the day before this show in London with Wednesday 13.
The set with the band decked out in appropriate skeletal wear helped set the mood before the headliners came on and in Mikey Lord the band have an energised frontman with a voice that is possessed of an excellent range. It’s a perfect opener, a band that bears no relation to the main act yet manages to enthuse the crowd through sheer will, energy and that most important of attributes, talent. They describe their sound as aggressive pop. I would argue that the title does them a disservice. This is modern alternative rock at its best.
As the stage was cleared, the banners lifted and the glow in the dark skeletons hung from the ceiling, the buzz in the crowd was audible. The crowd themselves looking like extras from one of Wednesday 13’s videos with people dressed in all manner of garb from witch doctor to goth to leather clad members of a freakish hell’s angels outfit, nothing was taboo and rightly so for this was to be a night of shock, awe, horror and punk.
A shroud of fog lay upon the stage making the garage look like something out of a John Carpenter movie with the multi-coloured lights gradually punctuating the gloom. By the time the band arrived on stage the venue the feeling of being present in the graveyard from Return of the Living Dead was complete and the full run through of Skeletons commenced.
As is often the case with these full album performances, they present something very special for the fans and a few complexities for the band. Tracks like My Demise for example have never been performed live before as a full band exercise. Acoustic yes, full electric with the entire band on stage… not before this show. Immediately the fans have a reason to write this one up as a show to remember. Even the band, tasked with practicing a set that they’re unlikely to perform again for a while looked to be having a blast with Ron Surman even managing to find time to celebrate one year of being with his girlfriend, a moment which he took it upon himself to propose to her and she thankfully accepted on the spot. Spooky, horror fuelled punk it may be but there’s always time for real love in our lives as well!
Costume changes abound as expected as Wednesday 13 dresses up in a variety of horror movie themed outfits, the best of which he saves for the end of the show when the band begin to perform Frankenstein Drag Queen numbers. A chainsaw wielding maniac, tick, a fog shrouded witch? tick! All whilst performing some of the Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13’s best tracks. Mr Motherfucker (naturally) gets a look in as does Your Mother Sucks Cocks In Hell before the wonderful sweary sing along of I Love To Say Fuck…. yep, don’t we all!
Given the latter half was a good half of the set from the following night, those in the know definitely made the right choice by attending this show (assuming they could only do one). I imagine a lot of the crowd would have been back the following night (which sold out before the Friday night show) and it would have made for an excellent Halloween weekend.
This is an artist and band that deserves a bigger stage and crowd. The audience at the Garage would be around the 700 mark yet the crowd Wednesday 13 played to at Bloodstock was 20x bigger and that suggests a bit of promotion could see the band do better and better. A shame when a show is this theatrical that it can’t be played out on a much bigger stage. Maybe next time because they deserve it and more.
Tape Intro (from ‘F**k It, We’ll Do It Live’ album)
Scream Baby Scream
No Rabbit In the Hat
Not Another Teenage Anthem
From Here to the Hearse (“Under My Wheels” by Alice Cooper snippet at end of song)
My Demise (First Full Band Performance)
With Friends Like These
All American Massacre
Gimmie Gimmie Bloodshed
Put Your Death Mask On
Intermission (Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun)
Galactic Chicken Shit (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
Mr. Motherfucker (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
Love at First Fright (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
The Devil Made Me Do It (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
Your Mother Sucks Cocks in Hell (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
Die My Bride (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
197666 (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
I Love to Say Fuck (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover)
Graverobbing USA (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 cover) (Dubbed ‘Graverobbing UK’)