REVIEW: W.A.S.P. brings its 40 Years Live tour to Tempe

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By Val Tapia, BADS Contributing Writer
Photos by John Roland

The first thing that surprised me about the W.A.S.P. show on Sun. Oct. 30 at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre wasn’t anything the band did onstage. It was the long line of fans outside waiting to get in. If memory serves, it was probably the most packed concert I’ve been to at the Marquee.

Problem was, the doors opened 90 minutes late due to staffing issues on the venue’s end. This in and of itself is absolutely unprofessional. I was told by a staff member that the show would be delayed about 15 minutes due to the late opening.

That didn’t happen, as openers Armored Saint took the stage at 8:00 p.m. sharp —their designated time I should add. Problem was, many fans missed about 20-minutes of their (roughly) 50-minute set. Needless to say, there were more than a few angry fans present that night, and rightly so I might add. Hopefully the staff of the Marquee will do better next time.

At 9:20 p.m. headliner W.A.S.P. took the stage with, of all things, a four-song medley (WTF??) that consisted of On Your Knees, The Flame, The Torture Never Stops (all from their 1984 self-titled debut album), and the title track from 1986’s Inside The Electric Circus.

In short order, I’m not a fan of medleys in a live show. That’s the laziest thing a band could do as part of a set list. That said, the rabid audience didn’t seem to mind this too much during the 105-minute set.

It should also be noted that the current incarnation of W.A.S.P. (which consists of lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist and sole original member Blackie Lawless, bassist Mike Duda, lead guitarist Doug Blair, and drummer Aquiles Priester) rightly put the focus on the music moreso than the “show”. I applaud them for that.

Truth be told, the visual aspects that the band is known for were pretty much non-existent anyway Sunday night. The stage set consisted of tarp banners that could’ve easily been designed at Signs Are Us, along with two video screens that featured old W.A.S.P. music videos for the most part.

The stage was described by Lawless in recent interviews as a “dark carnival” atmosphere that was”an arena sized show that’s being crammed in theatres.” In a word, that’s just plain laughable. Everything was designed on the cheap. Simple as that.

As far as transporting the show from city-to-city, all they need is one U-Haul to do that. Still, as I said earlier, the music is what counts when all is said and done. I don’t care how “visual” a band is— that’s just icing on the cake.

Admittedly, there were two songs in the set that I had never heard before until now: Crazy (from 2009’s Babylon) and Heaven’s Hung In Black (from 2007’s Dominator.)

There was some amusing banter from Lawless after the above latter song regarding “b-sides” (I prefer saying obscure, but I know what he means) being played live. He said that the band played a show in Denmark that consisted largely of deep tracks. Long and short of it, Lawless said it was something they would never do again after the not-so-warm response from the audience.

Of course, the band felt obligated to play Wild Child, L.O.V.E. Machine, and Blind In Texas. Fair enough. However, I was stunned to find out that the title track off the band’s best album, The Headless Children, wasn’t played.

In this writer’s humble opinion, it’s arguably the greatest song that Blackie Lawless ever wrote for W.A.S.P. It’s too bad that they never made a video for it— frankly, that should’ve been a no-brainer. But I digress.

The main set (which consisted of only eight songs… unreal) concluded with back-to-back songs The Idol and The Great Misconceptions Of Me from 1992’s The Crimson Idol.

For the first encore, one more Crimson song was included: Chainsaw Charlie. I much prefer Arena Of Pleasure, but that wasn’t played either.

Overall, it was a solid show, although I believe every veteran touring artist with a sizable catalog should be onstage a minimum of two hours, or play a minimum of 20 songs–period. Anything less than that is (to my thinking)… unacceptable.

My final verdict? 3.5 out of five stars.



W.A.S.P Photos

Photos by John Roland. All Rights Reserved



Armored Saint Photos

Photos by John Roland. All Rights Reserved


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