Words & Pictures – Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
As a spotty faced teenager, I fell in love with the Tamworth terrors that were (and thankfully are once again) Wolfsbane. The four piece, who in 1989 didn’t yet know that their vocalist would go on to become the voice of Iron Maiden during the mid to late 1990s, were the perfect mix of rock, punk and metal with the sort of choruses that stick in the head to this day. In 1989, their debut album came out on the Def Jam label and an interview to be published shortly will explain just why a demo tape with contact details on it will always make it into the right hands if it is destined to.
Fast forward and when vocalist Blaze Bayley joined Iron Maiden after Bruce Dickinson jumped ship, it seemed like the band was done for good. Thankfully, as we fast forward once more to 2012 a reformed Wolfsbane issued ‘Wolfsbane Save The World’ and now a mere ten years on (with reasonably regular touring in between) another album, ‘Genius’ is now out and contains the typical howling mad anthems the band are known for with a few curve balls to keep us on our toes.
With the album launch only a day or two earlier, the Water Rats show gave me the first chance to hear the new music live alongside classic cuts from their original releases. Support came from London based Swiss rockers Daxx & Roxane, who, judging by the comments from people in and outside of the venue garnered a fair new fans that evening.
Daxx & Roxane
Daxx & Roxane don’t know the meaning of ‘poor show’. They offer something different to the vast swathe of new wave of classic rock acts who, for me at least, are all starting to sound like clones of each other with a massive lack of memorable tunes. Thankfully D&R don’t disappoint in the memorable tunes department and as far as live shows are concerned it’s highly likely the band are powered (and should be sponsored) by Duracell batteries.
A decent length set saw the energised four piece warm up the crowd in the tightly packed venue with as noted above, many commenting on how tight and enjoyable a band they’d never heard before sounded. People were even running out to the bar to pull punters (who were holding out for the headliners only) into the venue to watch the band.
That sort of enthusiasm doesn’t come often and the band with an e.p. a debut album, ‘Ticket to Rock’ and their recent self titled follow up ably proves, Daxx & Roxane are at the start of their journey for world dominance and for those present at the Water Rats, new members were added to the congregation that will worship at the Church of Daxx in the not too distant future.
Ten years after the band saved the world (a feat we are very grateful for) Wolfsbane have released ‘Genius’ an album with Kathy Wilson (the figure from one of the early albums and the band’s mascot for many years) on the cover. Whilst the model who provided the source material for the album cover had managed to attend the previous couple of shows, in London we sadly got the life size cut out of album cover Kathy but boy does she look great!
With a setlist that gave us the hits, the comedy and the new material we’d been desperately waiting for since 2012, it should be noted that the band could (and possibly should) have called off the gig for various health related reasons.
Blaze, ever the showman, had been giving it his all and more on the early dates of the tour and his voice was, by his own admission, struggling. His arrival at the venue mid-afternoon had seen him disappear to the dressing room to rest and recuperate and aside from a couple of times where band and crowd helped him over the line, his voice held out remarkably well. Fair play.
The real trooper however was Jase Edwards. Backache had triggered a trip to the hospital for a scan which ultimately revealed, fractured vertebrae. Yes you read that right and even Blaze complemented his band mate, who had to remain seated for the gig, for playing with essentially a broken back.
If that doesn’t show commitment to the fans then I don’t know what does. It allowed them to rattle through tracks like ‘Manhunt’ and ‘I Like It Hot’ alongside ‘Spit It Out’ and ‘Zombies’. The rhythm section of Steve Danger on drums and bassist Jeff Hateley played as if it was 1989 again and whilst Jeff thinks they may have slowed down a tad, if they have, it didn’t show.
The crowd bought into the show completely bouncing back and forwards with Blaze, resorting to the infamous chant of ‘you fat bastard’ which originated in the early days of the band Blaze was anything but. Nowadays, the front man, with a smile, plays along and agrees with the punters who had the bottle to point it out – all good fun until someone gets… nope it was all good fun and proves that if you know your audience, humour and insults are more than acceptable in this day and age.
It is what it is and I’m just grateful that the band had the inclination to put out new music and tour. I feel like it’s ’89 all over again.
You Load Me Down
Spit It Out
Money to Burn
Seen How It’s Done
I Like It Hot
Temple of Rock
Smoke and Red Light
Paint the Town Red