Show report: Blaze Bayley, Shock, Joe Thrasher & Rusted in Ottawa
Concert review: Blaze Bayley, Shock, Joe Thrasher & Rusted live at Mavericks, Ottawa (13/10/14)
On October 13, 2014 or Thanksgiving, I decided to spend the end of another truly splendid autumn day at Ottawa’s rock and metal pub Mavericks to see charismatic singer Blaze Bayley in concert with supporting band Maiden Quebec. A total of three bands were opening in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd around fifty people that night.
The first band to hit the stage was hard rock and heavy metal band Rusted from Montreal and Rouyn-Noranda. I had discovered this band a few years ago when I saw their promising debut EP “Hit By” in an Archambault store in Montreal and by now the band has released its first full length release entitled “Rock Patrol”. Rusted plays an emotional mixture of melodic hard rock and powerful heavy metal with a few glam and hair metal elements. The quintet seems to come straight out of the wild eighties but its style doesn’t sound old-fashioned for three simple reasons. First of all, Rusted were able to prove that night that they are an excellent live band and are able to rock even small crowds of only twenty people as an opening act around 7:15 p.m. on a very small stage. At a certain point, some musicians even left the restricted area and decided to play directly in the crowd which heated the atmosphere up a little bit. Both the musicians and the fans had a whole lot of fun when they got into close contact. Second, the band is performing its music with talent and an enormous dose of passion. Third, Rusted are extremely credible and one can feel that they are not just posing in old-fashioned clothes to look cool or trying to copy some of their idols. Rusted really stand for an authentic rock and roll spirit that distinguishes them from so many similar retro rock bands that jump on the bandwagon but feel like pale copies of their idols. The quintet really played a tight set around thirty-five minutes or so, including powerhouse drumming, vivid bass work, excellent guitar melodies as well as melodic and powerful high-pitched vocals that actually have their very own note and are enjoyable to listen to. During some other stops of Blaze Bayley’s “Soundtrack of my Life” tour, Rusted played just before him and it’s a shame that the humongous talent of this great live band was somewhat wasted with such an early schedule. I would definitely attend other Rusted concerts in the future and can only recommend to check these youngsters out if you care for passionate hard rock and powerful heavy metal music.
The second band to hit the stage that night was local trio Joe Thrasher that has two EPs and two full length releases under its belt. The band also performed very well despite the restricted space on stage and a rather small crowd. Towards the end of its set, the band invited an additional singer on stage for a couple of songs who didn't stop to jump around or start a few short mosh pit attempts in the crowd. Sometimes these attempts looked a little bit ridicolous but the singer still did a good job. Most fans seemed to appreciate the band’s furious mixture of heavy and thrash metal elements. Joe Thrasher actually delivered a few strong and catchy live anthems such as “Speed Kills” or the brand new “Terror in Tokyo” which was very well received by the crowd. The fact that I was able to get into several songs of the band even though I got exposed to them for the very first time speaks volumes for the live qualities and the solid song writing capacities of the trio.
The third opening act was local veteran quartet Shock. The band had been formed as early as 1985 and had opened for several famous acts like Anthrax, Megadeth and Motörhead in the past. Shock has just released its very first official full length release entitled “Once Denied” in 2013 that offers a mixture of old school heavy, thrash and speed metal. The band managed to show off its experience and talent. Shock delivered a sweating forty-five minute long live performance and made the crowd move quite a bit. The trio is the kind of band that is even more energizing on stage than on a studio record.
Even though all three opening bands were great, I think that Rusted convinced me the most because they moved quite a bit on stage, interacted very well with the crowd and offered the most diversified genre mixture. Joe Thrasher’s performance had a perfect length to make the crowd move and the band’s catchy thrash metal definitely has a lot of potential. Shock definitely performed with energy but the band’s set was maybe a few minutes too long and several songs ended up sounding a little bit too alike towards the end. I think the band would have been even more efficient and intense if they had been the first to get on stage.
After Rusted, Joe Thrasher and Shock, the crowd was impatiently waiting for Blaze Bayley but the fifty fans or so had to wait for quite a long time because there was a technical problem with a guitar amp. Opening band Rusted had to help out the musicians of Maiden Quebec with a new amp to fix the problem. This took around forty-five minutes and Blaze Bayley got on stage more than thirty minutes later than scheduled. That’s why he had to cut five potential encore songs (“Fear of the Dark”, “The Trooper”, “Hallowed Be thy Name”, "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "The Number of the Beast") from the set. Despite this inconvenient detail, Blaze Bayley’s performance was phenomenal. Right from the start, he got as close to the fans as he could to shake hands, hug people in the first row and animate the entire crowd to cheer, move and sing along to the songs. Between the tracks, Blaze Bayley told some interesting short anecdotes about his thirty-one year long career. He was talking so down to earth, honestly and yet passionately that everyone in the crowd was moved by the achievements and the performance of this man. Blaze Bayley offered a balanced mixture of Iron Maiden songs and his earlier solo material that his backing band Maiden Quebec had learned in a few weeks only. The stunning thing was that the crowd was celebrating Blaze Bayley’s solo material as much as the Iron Maiden songs. After the concert, some fans even told Blaze Bayley that he didn’t need to play any Iron Maiden songs because his solo material was just as great. Among his solo stuff, Blaze Bayley played a truly emotional performance of “Soundtrack of My Life”, a fast paced version of “The Launch”, a melodic rendition of “Ten Seconds” and an incredibly powerful delivery of “Kill and Destroy” among others. Concerning the Iron Maiden songs, my personal highlights were the powerful opener “Lord of the Flies”, the epic performance of the incredibly moving “The Clansman” where the entire crowd was singing along, the pitiless rendition of the underrated heavy metal killer single “Futureal” and the emotional concert closer “Wasted Years” that Blaze Bayley had already performed very well during his acoustic concert with heavy metal band Some of the Few in Montreal last year.
After roughly eighty-five minutes, Blaze Bayley didn’t leave his fans alone even though it was already past midnight. He would instead go to the bar, have a chat with several fans for more than one hour, sign many different items and pose for quite a lot of memorable pictures. Blaze Bayley even offered and signed his own personal tour jacket to one of his fans. When a crew member reminded Blaze Bayley that he would have only one single jacket left for the remaining tour dates, he said that this wasn’t a problem for him and that he preferred to smell bad and offer a faithful fan a unique gift. This showed once again that Blaze Bayley is not only a great performer but also a great human being. It was only when his crew members told him that it was time to leave now and that he had another concert in another city the next day that Blaze Bayley slowly decided to leave around 1:20 p.m. in the morning.
I think that every single fan left this intimate concert with very positive memories. For some people it may be hard to understand what there is so special about attending a show of a rather unpopular ex-Iron Maiden singer who is playing old-fashioned heavy metal music. Once you have seen this credible, honest and passionate man whose voice seems to get better and better in concert each year with your own eyes and ears, you don’t have any questions anymore and you just want more. I would definitely be back in the first row as soon as Blaze Bayley comes to tour Canada again, even if I had to take two days off and travel hundreds of kilometers to the next bigger city. Until then, I will cherish the memories of this amazing night, share the amazing pictures taken with this outstanding artist, listen to his excellent solo material and wait for his new ambitious project that may come out by the end of 2015 or in the beginning of the year 2016.
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