In 1989 Alice Cooper released Poison. I loved it. With a father who was into The Moody Blues, I had been brought up on overly dramatic and to a certain extent over produced music. So it was no wonder that I would like much the same stuff and want to push it further. Poison is the song that got me into heavy metal, but as I look back on it from 2012 it really doesn’t seem that heavy! Bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Europe and Guns and Roses all had songs and albums out at around the same time. The band I liked the most at the time was Def Leppard, but that’s another story! Second to Def Leppard were WASP, who a friend at school had introduced me to by accident when a WASP album was the B side of a cassette tape of something else (I don’t remember what now) they lent me. I think the album was The Last Command. I loved that too and set about collecting the rest of the albums as soon as I could. In those days it meant borrowing them from the library if my friends didn’t already have them. Some of the more obscure albums like Inside The Electric Circus and Live...in the Raw would evade me for some years! The same friend lent me The Crimson Album and it’s still up there as one of my two favorite albums (alongside Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood) and I have been lucky enough to see it performed live all the way through.
The first time I saw WASP was on the KFD tour. I saw them twice, once in Nottingham and again in Bradford. They were brilliant, even though KFD was not! This was in 1997 and I wouldn’t see them again until they did the Crimson Idol 15th anniversary tour in 2007. That was just fantastic. Not the lineup that recorded that album, but still fantastic. All the notes in all the right places. I didn’t see them again until the Babylon tour in 2009. I think that may have been where it all went wrong. Although there hasn’t been a good WASP album since 1995’s Still Not Black Enough.
On the 30th of September 2012 I saw WASP at the Waterfront in Norwich on their 30th anniversary tour and they were dreadful. Twenty minutes late to the stage and cut their set short due to an apparent curfew. The first part of the show was predominantly from the eponymous first album and they played very few complete songs. We only got Wild Child from The Last Command, The Real Me from Headless Children and only half of Forever Free mashed in with Sleeping in the Fire. To top it all off, all you could hear was drums, vocals and rhythm guitar. You could barely hear the lead at all and a lot of the time not at all.
The second half was all the best bits from The Crimson Idol, including The Idol, one of my all time favorite songs. However it was all played dreadfully. The original rhythm part of The Idol was played on acoustic guitar. I have no idea why Blackie insists on ruining it by playing it on distorted electric guitar. We could barely hear the solo, which is the best bit of the song and the bits we could hear were wrong. I was very disappointed.
The encore was Heaven’s Hung in Black from Blackie’s attempt to rehash The Crimson Idol, The Neon God. WASP did manage to finish with a mighty Blind in Texas. At other gigs they even got The Widowmaker. WASP could have done so much more with very little effort, but really let us down.