Live Review: GWAR - Club Academy, Manchester
17th August 2022
Words: Matthew Williams
Photos: Rich Price
As I walk through the doors of the venue, I can feel the foundations of the room rumbling and the thunderous noise of Scottish death metallers Party Cannon on stage. This is a party like no other, the party from hell! The crowd has a happy, joyous feel to it, an inflatable whale is seen, (I’ll come back to that later) and the general atmosphere is jovial.
There are lots of components that make a gig more enjoyable for the punters, and Party Cannon have all of those elements tonight. The band are clearly enjoying themselves, they interact with the crowd, stand in singer, Daryl `Iron Mountain` Boyce from Glasgow boiz Scordatura, stokes the crowd up into a frenzy several times, the sound is also spot on, which allows drumming machine Martin Gazur to brutalise the crowd with his rapid beats, whilst guitarists Craig Robinson and Mike McLaughlin, swop riffs a plenty, and Chris Ryan on bass keeps everything together.
This is my first experience of Party Cannon live, and they didn’t disappoint, and whilst encouraging “the smallest person in the room to crowd surf on the back of an inflatable whale” might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the fact that this happened alongside the sight of the band asking the crowd to do push ups during the final brutal song, shows that they are fun and exciting band to watch, but more importantly, they have the music to back up their party vibe and songs that will bruise your soul.
As the opening riff of Black Sabbath’s 'War Pigs' blasts across the PA, several grotesque and comical latex figures try and squeeze their way through the stage door, as fans start screaming, clapping, camera phones at the ready, and I’m reminded of the poster that was on the wall outside, “Caution – There will be fake blood sprayed into the crowd during tonight’s event”. Welcome to GWAR.
This is the first time I’ve seen them live, and although I know what to expect, I’m still full of anticipation of what the next 90 minutes is going to throw, or spray at me. The Club Academy is packed, with the majority down the front all waiting to be entertained, and covered in fake blood, and GWAR do not disappoint in both areas.
From the first song 'Let Us Slay' it is clear that GWAR just aren’t all about the blood, but they have some damn fine songs as well. The crowd are energetic and the pit starts to get into action, and we then welcome President Joe Biden onto the stage, I wasn’t expecting that one! After a brief moment, Joe Biden’s head is chopped off by Blother the Berserker and the first load of blood is deposited on the baying masses at the front whilst the stunningly brilliant 'Sick of You' is played, the crowd are going wild!
The ”thank you Liverpool” gag is met with a mixture of applause and boos, I loved it myself, before the amazing riff brings about the start of 'The Salamanizer' and the crowd are just lapping this up, as GWAR have them firmly on side and giving the punters exactly what they want, blood, gore, and magnificent riffs, all in the name of entertainment.
The constant stage presence of different characters certainly adds something to the show and a “typical American redneck” is next to appear, ready for the ritual slaughter, as they burst into 'Hate Love Songs', bloody spurting all over the place, but it’s another brilliant song full of energy, and gets the crowd singing and moshing along to it.
They even crack another gag about Elon Musk’s recent tweet about buying Man Utd, which was met with a massive cheer, before announcing if he did, then Musk could “kick them into space where they belong” even GWAR are taking the piss out of Utd!
To some fans who have seen GWAR before, this might just be the band going through their 30 year old repertoire, but as somebody who has never seen them before, I’m totally engrossed in the performance element, as well as the music side. Yes, its predicable, latex body comes up on stage, gets cut up and squirts blood all over the crowd, but you know what you are getting with GWAR, and they are all clearly enjoying themselves on stage night after night.
They crank up a few gears with the superb 'Mother Fucking Liar', which has to be one of the best of the evening, and is swiftly followed by 'Krak Down', 'Womb with a View' and 'Meat Sandwich', preluded by a story about them only having two slices of bread left on the tour bus.
Next special guest on stage is, what can only be described, as a crazy keyboard player, looking like a relic from the 80’s, with blonde curly hair, who communicates only through his note playing. 'Berseker Mode' kicks into full effect, and this is my favourite song of the evening, as the riffs are just brilliant, and the 80’s keyboard player gets ripped apart, more blood everywhere and the first crowd surfer emerges. The immensely heavy 'Immortal Corrupter' begins with Blother signalling for a circle pit, and the blood stained masses duly oblige. Jizmak da Gusha on drums is on top form tonight, and keeps the energy levels high with his relentless assault on the senses and the riffs from Balsac the Jaws of Death and Pustulus Maximus are tight, precise and heavy as hell.
The next surreal part of the show soon comes along as the band are joined on stage by President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, armed with a hammer and sickle, as they launch into 'Bring Back the Bomb' before the characters try and fight with Blother before fighting with themselves and the inevitable bloodbath ensues. It really is comedy gold. And seeing people walk past me who are covered in blood, reminds me that I made a sensible move staying at the back.
'Fuck this Place' takes the energy levels up a further notch, as Blother introduces the band members to the drenched crowd, all to deafening applause, and we are then honoured by the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, or the "100 year old shitbag", who is duly encouraged to “suck his dick” by the crowd, which she does with gusto, whilst 'Ratcatcher' blasts away on stage.
And the show ends with the AC/DC cover of 'If you want Blood (You’ve Got It)' and the spraying rains down upon the masses, people are covered in more blood and leave the venue with a trail of red footprints.
This was an immensely enjoyable experience, and one that I definitely won’t forget. GWAR have been doing this for a long, long time and they know exactly what their audiences want and they give them exactly what they crave and desire, and deliver it in full prosthetic, blood stained gorey goodness.