CHRIS HOLMES – Bergen – Garage
Legendary guitarist Chris Holmes (ex-W.A.S.P.) laid siege to the beautiful city of Bergen on a cloudy Thursday by means of his kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll music, and let me tell you right here and now that those of us who witnessed his show at Garage last night were in for a treat. I have no idea what people’s expectations were, and I am not even sure that I knew what to expect myself, but I can honestly tell you that we were entertained and taken on a wild 90-minute ride with Mr. Holmes and his excellent band. The thing is that I think his last two solo records are interesting albeit a bit uneven. There are some strong songs on there, but quite a few fillers as well. Luckily, he chose to perform the best ones off "Nothing to Lose" and "Shitting Bricks" yesterday, and on top of that, we were served four W.A.S.P. classics that left us all floored, but we shall get back to that.
Nobody can replicate Holmes’s guitar tone – that is just a fact. When he and the Mean Man Band went onstage a little after 10 PM and launched into "Shitting Bricks" and a little later on "Let It Roar", it was clear to all of us that the band meant business and were there to show us how to rock out. The solo material went down really well. "502", "Nothing to Lose", "Born Work Die", "They All Lie and Cheat", and "Way to Be" sounded aggressive and punchy. The encore was a decent cover of the AC/DC staple "Highway to Hell" featuring Stud Bronson (Bömbers) on vocals. Nothing out of the ordinary, but an okay way to wrap things up. Personally, I think that the bone-crushing and hard-hitting version Neil Young’s "Rockin’ in the Free World" should have been the last song of the gig, but maybe that is just me. The four W.A.S.P. tunes, namely "L.O.V.E. Machine", "Sleeping (in the Fire)", "Wild Child", and "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)", were truly cool in each and every sense of the word. The haunting rendition of "Sleeping (in the Fire)" was my personal highlight of the evening! Thomas Cesario (guitar/vocals/backing vocals) more or less sang those four songs, and when I think back to how W.A.S.P. sounded when they were in Bergen last year, I think Mr. Cesario sounded even better than Blackie Lawless. Perhaps that sounds blasphemous to some of you ugly fucks out there, but that is just the way it is. Deal with it!
The stage setup was rather simple and sparse with only a backdrop sporting the words "MEAN MAN" hanging there, but that was part of the beauty of it all. It was all so wonderfully simple, raw, in your face, and honest. Nothing fancy or flashy – everything was stripped down and raw to the bone. It was awesome! Both the band and audience were enthusiastic and energetic, and it was obvious that Holmes and the band really appreciated the support and applause. Following the show itself, there was a meet and greet with Chris, and as a fan, it was cool to meet the man and have a few items signed. What a great way to cap off a memorable and fun show like that.