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    FOZZY | Pistols At Dawn And The Hot Damn 23rd February 2023 – KK’s Steelmill, Wolverhampton (UK).

    Drifting in to KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton (UK) on what was later to be described as Fozzy Friday, it’s 7pm and I’m already struck with how busy the venue is. Sure, there’s three bands on but even so it’s conspicuously crowded for so early on. The two support bands, Pistols At Dawn and The Hot Damn being artists I’ve not encountered before, having no clue of their popularity, things soon became evidently clear they’d each brought fans of their own. Support bands are often overlooked, even though they can match the quality of the main act. They just need more exposure to showcase their talent.

    Pistols At Dawn delivering a very good performance. Their sound reminiscent of Tool/A Perfect Circle‘s industrial-esque style, with a vocal tone resembling early Disturbed tracks. Playing six well-executed tracks, including a spectacular guitar solo and cover of Rage Against The Machine‘s ‘Bulls On Parade,’ Excellently executed to perfection. Original  track ‘Fly’ being their stand out track.. Pistols At Dawn are definitely an artist worth adding to my Spotify list.

    PISTOLS AT DAWN

    Next up The Hot Damn an odd fit to the line-up, however delivering a polished performance of nine songs. They’re standout track being ‘I Didn’t Like You Anyway’  matching the title with its angry and angsty tone. With punchy riffs and fierce harmonies, The Hot Damn will have you on your feet before you know it…

    THE HOT DAMN

    It’s been a whopping 12 years since I last saw Fozzy perform, and that was at Download while saturated and also a tad worse for wear so this was always going to be a different experience to that. Chris Jericho looks fit and well after a health scare in the not-too-distant past, and commanded the stage like the performer he’s been for a long long time. A set of 15 songs gave him and the band a chance to really get into their groove and they took it with aplomb! I’ve seen many a band look lost on stage, or bored and not present, even long into a career but all of the guys here were grinning all through the show. Rich Ward the guitarist was in fine form, sporting some curious face paint to add to his whole ensemble, using what looked like a Steinberger to blast out some fantastic solos, the best of which came right at the end of the show, just before the encore within “Enemy”, where he battled with his fellow guitarist Billy Grey. Stood right on the barrier I had the pleasure of being next to a guy who stood at least 6’7” tall who headbanged (or moshed as the kids these days say) throughout the whole gig which was pretty indicative of everyone else there!

    Entering to a song I despise, “Living Next Door to Alice”, (my name is Alistair, and I have a particularly vindictive sister who shortened this to… well… you can work it out!), they kicked off with “Spotlight” and started as they mean to go on. As long as you could ignore Jerico’s garish leopardskin leather jacket it was easy to see these guys really do enjoy what they do and with one good reason: They excel at it! “Bad Tattoo” follows and the crowd who’d mostly probably been at the venue for a good two and a half hours lapped it up much like the preceding beer I suspect had been just as vociferously consumed. Fozzy put on a rock show, there’s no denying it, and they at this concert grabbed songs from five of their albums to mix it up for the paying public. Entertainingly they also sandwiched two covers in there too, one of which was not what I expected at all. A metal version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” anyone? Made into something almost resembling industrial it goes down almost a touch too well! To be fair, the preceding song “Lights go out” was very much pop rock, radio friendly and absolutely a crowd pleaser beforehand and thus, the audience were primed accordingly! Well played Fozzy, well played!

    It’s at this point I realise it’s actually really difficult to find any fault with them at all. I’d entered the evening with an air of scepticism, a wrestler as a singer? It’s got to be a gimmick, right? I’d very little memory of them from all those years ago, but I’m really enjoying myself here. “Sane”, my personal favourite of the night and a song I’d enjoyed when swatting up on what to expect, was delivered cleanly and clearly straight after “Relax” and again I’m impressed both at the savviness at placing this here, and how well it’s performed. Even the drummer is on point, Grant Brooks, although I’m unsure about the thought process choosing to go shirtless when you’ve got a professional American wrestler as your frontman!

    “Nowhere to Run” is also a particularly well done song, and there’s a definite formular here. Start slower and lower and build up to the chorus. It works for them, and it certainly works for an audience who’ve spent the evening at fever pitch and boiling point all rolled into one. It bears repeating that while all of the songs are musically sound, the highpoint musically is that duelling dual solo from the two guitarists, right before the encore in “Enemy”. There’s footage on YouTube and if you have the time, go have a shufti!

    Speaking of encores, “Judas” appears to be a song everyone’s been waiting for and it goes down a storm. There’s a few blasts from a couple of pyrotechnic fonts either side of the singer and I’m reminded of Korn’s “Blind” initially and in the chorus, which is never a bad thing, and then Stone Sour in the verses, so it’s easy to see why the crowd will embrace this. Finishing with a cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” I’m impressed that the people here know the song far better than probably 90% of the people who own a Ramones tee shirt! Not a bad way to end a concert, and as I and everyone else filter out I’m struck that almost everyone’s been at the merch stand too which, in these days of digital music, is a great way to support artists. All in all it’s been really a decent night in Wolverhampton and my ears and calf muscles will remind me for the next 24 hours that I had fun. Perhaps Fozzy’s alliterative chant can be expanded to Fozzy’s Fun Filled Friday Frivolity. Although I concede, it doesn’t really roll off the tongue as well as his version. That’s probably why he’s on the stage and I’m not!

    FOZZY

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