Steelwing / Skull Fist / Vanderbuyst
20 January 2012
The Underworld, London
An evening of retro-metal was kicked off tonight by Dutch rockers Vanderbuyst.The three piece pair their NWOBHM influence, which was held by all the bands tonight, with a more 70s rock vibe.Black & Blue opened proceedings with the crowd nodding along, followed by the more up-tempo KGB, where guitarist Willem Verbuyst threw down his first major statement of intent with a ripping guitar solo.
“Do you want some heavy metal?” queried the zebra print pant wearing Jochem Jonkman, “So band your head for Tiger”.The combined vocalist bassist took command of his side of the stage with posturing reminiscent of the great Phil Lynott, who has been a clear influence of this band.On the other side of the stage, a warmed up Verbuyst was now dropping guitar licks at will, without pausing from headbanging.
Aside from the more laid back Into The Fire, possibly with an eye on the fact two faster bands were due to follow them, Vanderbuyst stick to their more energetic material.An ode to 80s teen porn queen Traci Lords, led us to Stealing Your Thunder with Jonkman encouraging the crowd to pump their fist in the air.However, the band’s trump card is saved for their finale, with a scorching cover of UFO’s Rock Bottom serving as a showcase for Verbuyst to amaze with his guitar acrobatics.If Vanderbuyst can look to recreate their live energy on record, they could certainly be moving up from opening band status.
Black & Blue / KGB / Tiger / Into the Fire / Traci Lords / Stealing Your Thunder / Rock Bottom
Whilst the Underworld was in its smaller “Mini-World” configuration, the venue had filled up respectfully by the time Skull Fist took to the stage.Opening with a cover of Tokyo Blade’s Attack Attack, the Canadians were a powder keg of energy from the off.
“F**king A man, we are Skull Fist”, confirmed frontman Jackie Slaughter, before laying down the bands modus operandi of “Get drunk and f**k shit up!”
Like A Fox saw Slaughter pairing up with fellow guitarist Jonny Nesta for twin arpeggio guitar lines.Meanwhile the less than subtle Get Fisted was dedicated, “For the ladies”.
It’s not only Skull Fist’s music that harks back to an early age of metal, Slaughter’s guitar was emblazoned with a black Japanese war flag and hung from a chain guitar strap around his ripped sleeveless denim jacket.Nesta sported PVC pants, drummer Jake had an 80s poodle perm and bassist Casey Slade opened the set in a kaftan.
The stage is Skull Fist’s playground as Slaughter moves around, switching microphones during the anthemic Heavier Than Metal, whist Slade leans into the audience periodically to take a swig of any available beer.
With a quick trade of guitar solos, No False Metal rattles along heading towards the sets conclusion with Nesta playing his guitar whilst sat on Slaughter’s shoulders.
Skull Fist setlist:
Attack Attack / Like a Fox / Get Fisted / Ride the Beast / Sign of the Warrior / Commit to Rock / Head öf the Pack / Heavier Than Metal / No False Metal
With two gauntlets already thrown down, Steelwing needed to pull out all the stops and they took to the stage like they were headlining at the Hammersmith Odeon.There was an awful lot of lycra on stage with the band looking like they’d raided Priest or Maiden’s 1982 wardrobe, frontman Riley even resplendent in a military cap.
Musically the Swedes also pay homage to those two great bands and pick up other influences from NWOBHM bands of a similar era.Their set tonight is almost evenly taken from debut album Lord Of The Wasteland and this year’s Zone Of Alienation.Having recently heard that new album, my early opinion has been that the Swedes have matured and improved their songwriting.High point of that album and indeed this set was the epic Lunacy Rising, stretching out to ten minutes and ticking all the boxes you’d expect in a lengthy early 80s metal composition.
Elsewhere we get the instant attack of Full Speed Ahead, the dumb but fun Roadkill (…or Be Killed) and a chance for the musicians to show off their skills with instrumental They Came From The Skies,The latter ended with the band on their knees practically in the front row of the crowd.
The crowd lapped up the feast of metal and aside from a needless and out of place regular stage invader, did their part by sticking to the era of headbanging and fist punching.
2097 A.D. (intro) / Solar Wind Riders / Headhunter / Full Speed Ahead / The Illusion / Sentinel Hill / Tokkotai (Wind Of Fury) / They Came from the Skies / Lunacy Rising / Roadkill (…or Be Killed)