I don’t wear earplugs. I never have. It’s not from a lack of trying, I just felt like I couldn’t hear anything whether it was at a concert or onstage with my own band years ago, and they usually came out after half a song. Well Sunday night at House of Blues I wore earplugs. And thank the Gods I did. MANOWAR came to lay siege to the city of Dallas and they brought with them their own thunderous P.A. system that I swore might put a hole in the ceiling. Standing on the floor maybe 20 feet from the band I felt every pulse-pounding note in my chest and had I not been wearing hearing protection I know my ears would still be ringing.
The fierce opening salvo of “Manowar”, “Blood of My Enemies” and “Sign of the Hammer” had the floor vibrating as all those in attendance locked their arms together in their own Signs of the Hammer in salute of the metal madness before them on the stage. MANOWAR is not a band that wastes time with silly between song patter. They go hard from start to finish across a 14-song set that would have most young bands wetting themselves in fear. Next up was “Lord of Steel” from album of the same name, one that I feel doesn’t get enough credit and it actually had twice the punch of its studio counterpart. A pleasant surprise was “The Dawn of Battle” a song I’ve not heard in quite some time, drummer Donnie Hamzik’s digga-digga double bass bouncing off the walls while bassist Joey DeMaio and guitarist Karl Logan wreaked sonic havoc.
The stage lights went dark as the screens lit up with images of armies gathering for a bloody battle interspersed with actor Brian Blessed recording the audio for the updated “The Warrior’s Prayer” to be featured on the upcoming Kings of Metal MMXIV (February 28). A decidedly more animated version than the original, I won’t say that it’s better because that one still holds a special place in my heart, but I thought it was well-done, as did all those on the floor around me. That’s the thing with MANOWAR fans; they went just as nuts to this five minute interlude as they did when the band was up there, and it was great! This of course gave way to “Blood of the Kings”, singer Eric Adams sounding every bit as great as he did in 1988, and he even made sure to add some more countries. When the USA was mentioned we all went completely batshit as you’d probably expect, especially down here in Texas.
Now it was time for “Kingdom Come”. Those who know me also know this is one of my top three MANOWAR songs of all-time and live it did not disappoint. Throughout the evening I kept shaking my head in disbelief at how good Eric’s voice was, especially eight songs in. He was a juggernaut who couldn’t and wouldn’t be stopped, and the devilish smiles he gave those of us in attendance made it clear that he knew it, too. “Heart of Steel” came next and it was a good chance to catch our collective breaths. Still, it’s a very powerful and inspiring song and sounded fantastic. Now, it’s tough to describe what happened after this. I’ve heard “Sting of the Bumblebee” a zillion times, but to actually WATCH it happen, and see Joey’s fingers move with almost inhuman speed without missing a note is worth the price of admission alone. It almost made me dizzy trying to keep up!
The band then tore into “Wheels of Fire” and “Hail and Kill” the latter of which had one of the biggest crowd reactions of the night. The chants of “Hail! Hail! Hail and Kill!” ripped through the packed auditorium like the proverbial sword through flesh. And just when I thought we couldn’t holler any louder along comes “Kings of Metal” whose chorus threatened to tear the roof off the House of Blues! “Other bands play, MANOWAR KILLS!!” has been the rallying cry for all of us Manowarriors since 1988 and that will never change. If my night had ended there, I wouldn’t have cared. Hell, if the Metal Gods themselves decreed this was the last concert I was allowed to attend, I’d have said, “Fine by me!”, but thankfully that’s not the case.
For the encore we were treated to “Warriors of the World United”, a great song from 2002’s VASTLY underrated Warriors of the World record and then “Black Wind, Fire and Steel” from 1987’s Fighting the World, the album that was my introduction to MANOWAR, and a fitting way to close the evening. And when the band said goodnight and left the stage, the lights dimmed once again as “The Crown and the Ring (Lament Of The Kings)” played on their P.A. accompanied by a stirring video presentation showing the American Flag and the Texas State Flag as well. A fitting way to end, and not ONE person moved till it was finished.
When all was said and done, the new friends I made in the crowd, Chan and Win just looked at me and smiled. Seasoned MANOWAR show veterans who’ve traveled far and wide to see them, they saw the amazement in my eyes, the kind that comes with having your doors blown off by the Kings of Metal themselves. Win looked at me and said, “Write about THAT!!” Well, I did, but I don’t know that I did the power and fury of what I just witnessed any justice. Other bands play…MANOWAR KILLS!
And don’t you forget it…
DEDICATED TO CHAN, WIN, AND ALL THE MANOWARRIORS AROUND THE WORLD…DEATH TO FALSE METAL!!