When this gig first appeared on my calendar with the line-up, I thought I was in late 80's teenage thrasher heaven again. As far as the creme-de-la-creme of the British Thrash scene when I was growing up, the only thing missing from the bill was Acid Reign.
Back in October, I had a phone interview with Pete Lee (AKA Qualcast Mutilator) which I recorded on my phone, feeling rather smug about myself. Due to technology being as unreliable as it is, that interview still won't play back on my phone, but suffice to say the crux of the conversation revolved around a little charity idea on behalf of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
I don't think at that point any of us had thought things would turn out the way they did. What started out as a cute little idea to raise some awareness and funds for a cause would turn into one of the largest last-minute charity drives I've seen in many a year.
Prior to mid November nobody had thought of this as being a Charity gig and the Rescue Rooms was close to being sold out then. The awareness raised by the fund-raising efforts of Lawnmower Deth et al pushed the venue to bursting. This was to be a night to remember.
As the doors opened to the throng of Thrash hungry metallers, Line of Fire kicked off the evening's events. I've had the chance to review Line of Fire before at Bloodstock this year and I have to admit, I'm a bit of a fan. Whiskey fuelled, Southern Rock is probably how I described them months ago, and yep, the same thing applies. What's great about this band is it seems to come so naturally. You'd almost wonder how a band like this, fits in with a bunch of 80's thrashers..? Perfectly. They're the best way to get you in the mood.
Now, as a teenager, I was lucky enough to have seen Re-Animator. Apparently, I was one of the last few that did... About 23 years or so since their last gig so, I wasn't expecting a great deal. However, I should know better. After all, I saw Xentrix earlier this year too and they were simply stunning. Re-Animator take the stage with their 80's thrash anthem 'Deny Reality' and you'd be correct in saying that Re-Animator are tight. If you're in a band, and decide to take a twenty-odd year hiatus, this is the way to come back. It was as I remembered them all those years ago. Pitch Perfect and brutally Thrashy Re-Animator are back!!! Now, earlier on I mentioned Acid Reign. One of the fore-runners of the British Thrash metal scene. And how this night would only be excelled if they were playing... Howard 'H' Smith arrives on stage for a quick cover of The Dead Kennedy's classic 'Too Drunk to Fuck', and when I say quick, I mean quick. I've not seen that kind of intensity and energy in a lot of younger bands, let alone from musicians that are almost (if not mathematically) old enough to be the Dads of those bands... fast, furious, intense and superb if you run a festival, Re-Animator need to be on your list!!!
Xentrix blew me away in August 2013. I was a massive fan (for the first 2 albums) growing up and there's a song from the 3rd album 'Kin' which influenced a major decision in my life but I digress. I was expecting great things, but with an edge of scepticism. Earlier in the later part of 2013, the Xentrix boys had to replace their bassist, the new addition (Chris Shires) is a wee bit younger. Why the scepticism? Well, when I was in my late teens/early twenties and Xentrix were at their peak, most people in the metal community (in my part of the World) had never really heard of them. Most of the people in their late 20's have never heard of them, and with one exception, I've not met anyone under 25 who'd ever heard of them. So, you get my point here. What does he know about Xentrix. Turns out, everything. I was left Shell-Shocked after their performance at Bloodstock, after this one, I'm amazed. Ripping through their set, Xentrix raised the bar, the intensity and the temperature in the Rescue Rooms tonight.
I've seen bands with energy, I've seen bands with an edge of brutality, I've only seen a couple that manage to blend it seemlessly. Imagine if you will, how Lamb of God would be received in the UK if they were British... Xentrix are as good, if not better. I'm telling you now if anyone needs to get back into the studio and show these up and coming bands how to do it, Xentrix are a shining example.
And so the stage is almost set for the Christmas-Parody-Pantomime-Charity-Lawnmower-Christmas-Thing...
Over the last 6 weeks or so, Lawnmower Deth have been gathering momentum (and a little cash) for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Like I said earlier, what started out as a way to raise a little cash and have a bit of a laugh spiralled out of control. Download's organiser Andy Copping was one of the first to throw in a little something when asked for a T-Shirt or poster, Copping replied with 2x VIP passes, camping and parking for 2014's Download Festival. Bands like Iron Maiden, The Stereophonics, Bullet For My Valentine, Evil Scarecrow and many many, many, many others were quick to throw in items for a raffle organised by the band, with some outside help, the whole thing did what happens around Lawnmower Deth. It all went a bit... mental.
Now, host for the evening Rob Bannister treats the crowd to a quick singalong to the theme from Rent-A-Ghost dressed as a pantomime horse (Dobbin was always my favourite) with an enormous strap-on. I guess if you're going to dress as a horse these days, you gotta come anotomically correct...
With the Muppet Show theme music playing as an intro, the Thrash Legends that are Lawmower Deth took the stage. This is the part where I'm supposed to relate to anyone reading this what the scene was like. Honestly, I can't, we'd be here all day. Santa suits, silly string, A Cobwoman of Deth, A Mr. Smellymop a Sumo Rabbit, a skeleton with a Bone-er, a conga and of course Satan himself (Although he seemed to have forgotten his trampoline this Christmas) are all the kind of thing you'd come to expect from these masters of Mayhem and a band that writes and performs songs like 'Buddy Holly Never Wrote A Song Called We're Too Punk' and 'Seventh Church of the Apocalyptic Lawnmower'. What you wouldn't expect is for a guy, Stuart Perry, to donate £250 to get his picture taken with these guys and then jump around on stage.
The Lawnmower boys offered him the opportunity to Sing 'Drink to be Sick', instead Stuart went for the option of going all Happy Mondays and just danced around the stage. As the evening drew closer to a close, through all the madness and mayhem confusion and forgotten lyrics that is quintessentially a Lawnmower Deth gig, Sophie Lancasters brother Adam was brought on stage to say a few words.
Adam doesn't normally do the talking for the foundation and made his way through a Thank You speech that would grab the attention of everyone in the building. As he walked off the stage the chants of Sophie, Sophie, Sophie shook the stage, the walls, the doors and the very core of everyone in attendance. Yeah, big tough metallers? Not a dry eye in sight. Lumps in throats abound, Lawnmower seal the evening with a Ukelele fuelled cover of Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody' and Kim Wylde's 'Kids in America' Lawnmower Deth made a statement this evening. Raising a combined total of a little over £4,500 themselves with neighbouring Rock City donating 2014's VIP/Guest list contributions driving the total upward over the upcoming months, what started out as a silly idea has done wonders to bring a community together.
This is how gigs are supposed to be done!!!
Well done to all what a night.