Review: Warrior Soul + Support (The Box, 08-Jul-2009)

For somewhere in the region of 20 years Warrior Soul have remained high on my list of bands I adore but that nobody else seems to have ever heard of, and for the past month or two I’ve been evangelising them to everyone who’ll listen, so how did the event shape up? Was I going to be made to look a fool, or was my faith in one of the unsung giants of rock well placed? There was certainly a promising crowd — not quite packed to capacity, but enough — and all signs seemed to suggest that it was going to be a good night.

Kicking off proceedings were The Skimps; despite being a man down and the rythm guitarist taking over bass duties, they got things off to an awesome start with their speed-metal infused wall of sound and the solid 20-minutes of chunky riffs over a base of stomach-pummelling drums gave me high hopes for the rest of the night.

Next up were Broken — again short a man, but this time it was (if I understood correctly) their singer who was MIA which may have had a more substantial impact. Even with this handicap, though, their “Allman Brothers discover punk” sounds were intriguing, and I’d like to hear them again with a full lineup. (And kudos to the guitarist for taking on the frontman role!)

Providing a similar sound (but this time with a full complement) Already Gone took the middle slot, and upped the ante by adding a fair dose of heavy to the classic blues-rock “a little bit country, a little bit western” formula. (Nice, also, to see a female drummer — they’re a rare breed.)

By this point I was itching for the main event, but The More I See (who are providing support throughout the tour) turned out to be a welcome distraction. Imagine Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Helloween in a fight with Prong and Therapy? and you’re close to capturing the joyful combination of lunatic riffs, hammeron arpeggios, double-bass-pedal frenzy, and ear-splitting falsetto screeching that assaulted the senses, and their rendition of Smack My Bitch Up was a wonder to behold. On any other night they’d have been a perfect headline act, and they are surely the natural heirs to the NWOBHM legacy.

Now came the big moment, and the second that the intro from Drugs, God and the New Republic started I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. As it moved seamlessly into Interzone I could no longer resist the urge to join in the chorus, pump my fist, and pretend just for a moment that I was 17 again. (If only…) Throughout the 45 minute set they belted out classic after classic — Punk and Belligerent, Dowtown, Love Destruction, and in fact most of the Classics album — and Kory gave a perfect lesson in how to be a true rock frontman; his raw vocals, on (and off) stage acrobatics and his sheer presence seemed to dwarf the room, and while the lineup has seen many changes over the years this was still the band I’ve known and loved since my youth. The end came all too suddenly and without much of a climax, but it was fun while it lasted and it was more than worth the wait.

All in all it was one of the best gigs I’ve been to in a long time, certainly the best night I’ve had at the Box, and it’s going to be a tough one to top…


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