Saturday, June 21, 2008

Monsters, Bitter Old Men, a Dragon and Rock Gods - Rock2Wellington Night One Review

On TV n stuff you you know how you see in the music videos the massive big fuck off stadium gigs complete with fireworks and crazy onstage antics? (think the music video for 'Paradise City' by Guns N' Roses) Yep? Well that doesn't even come close to Rock2Wellington. Rock2Wellington was a show, not a concert.

This gig was pure rock n roll class all the way through, no doubt about it. The only thing that kind of bothered me was that, not being very knowledgeable about Wellington's apparent windyness and not thinking ahead, I neglected to bring my hoody to the outside gig and hence ended up shivering away my beer buzz before venturing into the pit subtley cacooning myself within other bogans.

Starting from the crazy ass guitarists squaring off with each other to win the RockFM's competition to win truckloads of free gear, there was such an awesome array of styles in their playing one dude even looked like Joe Satriani playing porno-groove licks, oh and a special mention to the second guitarist I think it was who had on a mask that strongly remesembled Paul Gray's Slipknot mask, and of course the final guitarist who upon realising the fellar before him shredded an amazing mini-set closed his own with smashing the hell out of his own guitar ending in true rock n roll style.

Right after this performance Finnish moster rockers LORDI took to the stage with a visually gobsmacking set complete with awesome as costumes that made you swear you had seen them in Lord of the Rings in that scene where the Orcs almost eat Merry and Pippin. Seriously those Finlandians love their Nordic shit, every one of the costumes looked like a zombie off a haunted viking boat, especially when their frontman Tomi Putaansuu (aka Mr Lordi) picked up big axes laden with fireworks and waved them around flaming furiously. Talking about fireworks their bassist made the crowd go wild by firing a bazooka full of explosive shit and firing it at the crowd (haha take that you diamond pit bastards!). Musically, I thought Lordi were pretty cool, not exactly 'wow thats a pretty sick solo' but 'hey that sounds pretty rocking!', especially with the chorus of one of their songs "The devil's a loser and he's my bitch" - fuck yeah! In a nutshell Lordi were scary looking rockers, but not metalheads as some may have assumed. Oh yeah and I've gotta mention the group of three kids behind me having a little mosh pit behind the rest of us watching screaming the words to Lordi's songs: good on ya for the determination but seriously annoying after the first two songs.
Lordi ***3 stars - worth seeing if you can, but should be alot more cooler when baked I think.

While setting up the stage for Alice Cooper Rock2Wellington organisers had a kiwi band by the name of SONIC ALTAR playing on a miniture stage to the side of the main stage, and well god dammit they were bad. Now that may be a bit of a bold statement to say straight off the bat but I say it because small-time NZ bands that barely anyone have heard of do not belong at stadium gigs, they belong at bars. The sound was shoddy and the frontman resembled Meatloaf in a bad way. I think the organisers may have realised it was silly just to have a single band playing on a tiny stage that no one was close to so they got Weta Workshop to make a big ass dragon that breathed smoke (but it's safe to assume that everyone wanted it to breathe fire) and fired lasers out of its eyes. Yup this was seriously an awesome sight to behold, if I ever win lotto I will guarantee you lil devils that I will buy that dragon and have it at every TRS gig. So you've probably guessed that I speant more time buzzing out to the dragon than I did listening to Sonic Crap.
Sonic Altar *.5 1.5 stars - would be cool to check em out in a smaller gig, but stupid to have them at a stadium gig
Dragon ****4 stars - ITS A FUCKING DRAGON that moves and shoots lasers from its eyes!! Doesn't make five stars because it didn't breathe fire.

Next up was ALICE COOPER, and holy crapshite this guy looks more and more bitter as he ages. What a stage show from the man who was the one of the first scary artists in the early days of heavy music (along with Ozzy). I cannot call this set a normal set, it was closer to a Rocky Horror Show broadway performance. It opened with Alice Cooper assasinating a dummy version of himself then later had a semi-story line where he abused his wife, who was played by his own real life daughter (at this point he played 'Only Women Bleed') and drove a stake through his own baby concluding with him being sent to a mental institution and finally being hung onstage. At this point his backing band performed an impressive intrumental for a good solid 5 minutes which led to Alice Coopers final songs including his some of his biggest songs 'School's Out' and 'I Wanna Be Elected'. Special mention to his stage antics during this latter song with roadies and extras running around with great big signs saying 'The Alice Cooper Party' and 'He Just Doesn't Care!'. But the songs that everyone was really hanging out for eventually came as the encore, 'Billion Dollar Babies' and the bitter-sweet 'Poison' had everyone singing out their lungs discarding all sense of caring.
Alice Cooper *****5 stars - Alice Cooper blew me away with his stage performance, swinging his walking sticks and crutch around and his general bitter appearance. Definately see this guy if you ever get the chance!

Unfortunately with the good comes the not so good. Of course while re-constructing of the mainstage attention was focused again on the secondairy stages with the this time THE SYMPHONY OF SCREAMS performing a sub-par set. Again I've got to say these guys belonged in a bar not a stadium, also with a band name like that you would of expected the vocals to be at least half screaming, I think I heard maybe 3 screams in the entire set. But in saying that I also feel sorry for them when their power and then lights were switched off abruptly leaving them in darkness as Kiss began.
The Symphony of Screams **2 stars - another band that should have been at a bar that weekend, not at this gig.

Oh yeah and the dragon was out again so I was watching that most of the time.

Before I go onto the headliners of the night I've got to mention the other side acts that performed while the kiwi bands and the dragon appeared. Firstly the zombie cheerleaders: they looked more drunk than anything else and it was always fun to watch them and spot them stumble over chairs in the poor lighting and try to reassemble themselves making it look like it was part of the plan. Secondly the dudes who set themselves on fire and smashed burning guitars, fucking good on ya! That was pretty cool to watch. And thirdly the fire dancers: interesting at first but then just became part of the background.

Never before this gig did I ever expect to see a KISS show and now that I have I can tell you they are one of the coolest, most rock n roll things ever and that they really are as cool as your parents say. Despite only Gene Simmons, the glorious man-slut that all guys want to be (apparently having slept with over a thousand groupies) and all girls secretly want to have, and Paul Stanley, the strangely camp but also cool as frontman, remaining as the original members of Kiss this was still an impressive set. The entire stage was decked out in true Kiss style: truckloads of speakers and elevating stage peices for all the members. The songs were all outstanding with a sort of Greatest Hits feeling to it, but it was still amazing, even when their new guitarist Tommy Thayer was encouraged by Paul Stanley to sing a song and got the entire crowd into it. The highlights of the set had to include Gene Simmons' infamous bloody spitting, fire-breathing and flying, Paul Stanley gliding over the crowd on a flying fox to perform a song at the sound tower to "bring the love to the back of the crowd". But the best moment was easily when Paul Stanley said "In 1979 when this song came out people said Kiss has gone disco...but that's because they never heard it liiiive" and lauched into 'I Was Made For Loving You'. As the set closed there was defnately a strong euphoric connection between every man, woman, child and bogan that was only acheiveable with seeing a Kiss show.
KISS *****5 stars - they oozed sex and rock n roll and I mean c'mon it's KISS!! Stay tuned for night two!


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