Manowar

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author AP date 04/03/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Surely there isn't a band in existence, whose collective ego outshines that of the legendary and infamous Manowar. So outrageously self-important are these men that they have bought 500 of the available tickets tonight themselves to ensure that the balcony area of Store Vega is closed despite the sold out tag at the door; this because Manowar are loathe to have anyone looking down on them whilst performing - nobody is above Manowar. Add to that the refusal to accredit any media photographers, and security guards tasked with roaming the audience, forcing people to put their phones in their pockets, lest any non-flattering photo be taken of the band or a video recorded of their performance by a fan, or someone's attention be focused on anything else than Manowar themselves; and you've got yourself arrogance so perplexing you could be forgiven for thinking it must be a joke. Only it isn't.

Of course, no other band could possibly ever be worthy of the honour of supporting the biggest and most important band in the world. So instead, the supporting act is a 40-minute delay to the planned 20:00 start. This is followed by a summation of my worst fears, as even all the might of the stupendous speaker stacks suspended from the ceiling can offer no redemption for the sound mix, which oscillates between frustratingly low volume and surges of hair-raising bass. Small wonder that Manowar seem genuinely annoyed by these technical issues, and yet they flat out refuse to acknowledge them, let alone raise a finger to signal the sound engineer to fix them. Thankfully said engineer still enjoys a certain degree of independence and handles the problems himself, and come the fifth song, "Hail, Kill and Die", Manowar begin to sound almost as large and confounding as their, err... personalitites.

What is particularly impressive about the mix now is the tremendous amount of low-end punch that was missing during the first four songs, and the initially sullen crowd erupts in a frenzy of horns and headbanging at last. Speaking of the audience: this is perhaps the most interesting thing about Manowar altogether, the sheer amount of devotion that people seem to have for a band of such bewildering arrogance, exaggeration and cheese. Each song is followed by people gesturing with the fist around wrist sign of Manowarriors, and each song is sung loudly back by virtually every person in the venue - most so during favorites like "Brothers of Metal Pt. 1" and "Kings of Metal". Even stranger and more cult-like is the ritual of reciprocated low humming and high pitch screaming between vocalist Eric Adams and his fanatical acolytes.

Despite their considering themselves as, well, the kings of metal as the aforementioned song title might suggest, there comes a point at which Manowar actually seem more situationally aware and intimate than most bands that visit Denmark, when bassist Joey DeMaio first pays heartfelt tribute to legendary Danish promoter Erik Thomsen (he passed away on May 20th, 2006); then invites Jeppe Nissen from Live Nation, acting promoter of Copenhell, on stage to share a beer with him and commands us to scream at him who we want to see at the festival (sparking some hope/fear that Manowar would play there this summer - a rumour since defused; but perhaps next year?); and finally gives a near 5-minute memorized speech in Danish (to the best of his abilities) without any sort of notes. It is a testament not only to his love for Denmark, and Copenhagen in particular, where he tells us he has drank and fucked many a time during his career; but also to a genuineness - despite belonging to this band - that most musicians could learn from.

But I digress. As the concert proceeds, it only grows better and louder by crowd request. The fact remains that Manowar may be the silliest and most intellectually repulsive metal band out there aside GWAR, Rob Zombie and the like, but they sure as hell know how to stage a riveting performance with the simplest of tools. Backed only by three LED screens showing various stills, clips and World of Warcraft videos and flanked by stacks of amplifiers, Manowar's setup is much simpler than one might expect. It is about the music for them, and whatever one's opinion of such music may be, they truly believe in it. And when it comes down to it, that's all that matters. The show is rounded off by a brief, expected encore comprising the legendary "Warriors of the World" and "Black Wind, Fire and Steel" in a triumphant celebration of heavy metal glory, for better or worse.

So in thinking how best to pass judgment over a concert so plagued by clichés - and, it should be mentioned, a horrific bass solo by DeMaio - I'll leave you with this: if you're a Manowarrior, it is extremely likely the show was everything you wanted it to be, and then some. If you were new to the band, and used this as the first opportunity to see them live, well, then your skepticism was probably warranted. If, like me, you just don't give two shits about Manowar and just wanted to experience the infamy you have surely heard of first hand - and did so with the acknowledgement that what you were watching was an oxymoronic mixture of brilliant and pathetic, grandiose and ridiculous - then I cannot surmise how you could possibly have had a bad time.

8

Setlist:

  • Manowar
  • Call to Arms
  • Sign of the Hammer
  • The Power
  • Hail, Kill and Die
  • Brothers of Metal Pt. 1
  • Mountains
  • Expendable
  • El Gringo
  • Thunder in the Sky
  • Bass Solo (by Joey DeMaio)
  • The Sons of Odin
  • Hand of Doom
  • Drum Solo (by Donnie Hamzik)
  • Kill with Power
  • Kings of Metal
  • Hail and Kill
  • Manowarriors
  • The Lord of Steel

--Encore--

  • Warriors of the World
  • Black Wind, Fire and Steel

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