Review by Lisa Burke, photos by Robert De Anda
February 8th 2017, West Hollywood CA: When a practical stranger shows up in your life out of nowhere and invites you to a very tempting party, where either you’ll have the best time of your life or die trying, do you accept? In the world of uncharted territories in metal bands and live shows, the answer is yes, of course you do. Experiencing newfound life out of your normal boring four cardboard walls that encompass your existence is a healthy adventure, even if you cried before it was over. On Wednesday February 8th, I set out on a usual metal adventure at a West Hollywood venue but with an unusual Finnish metal band Lordi as the headliner. In support were a few other bands plus Tower Guard as the direct support.
I may or may not have known anything about Tower Guard prior to this night if I hadn’t been lucky enough to witness them live a while back, at my first accidental encounter of their unscheduled heavy metal parking lot show as I was leaving a festival at San Manuel Amphitheater. It was pitch dark at that point of the night and they were playing a show plugged into a pick up truck that if I recall correctly was also used as a platform stage and they had a decent crowd and mosh pit going. The energy of it all was so high that as tired as I was, I had to stay and listen. The guts it took to not only attempt such a feat but to also succeed was impressive and really showed where their passions stem from. At this present day show, they had a proper stage to make the sound even more amped up, and still played above and beyond the call of duty. From the talented pig-tailed female jamming on the many- stringed bass to the wild curly-haired energetic vocalist, this band not only has great hair, but a great sound as well. They have the stamina and energy of bands such as Holy Grail with extra speed driven riffage and heavy, slightly guttural vocals. The bottom line here is this band shreds and makes their presence known. I highly recommend checking them out in a live setting.
Then the most unusual band I’ve possibly ever encountered live, Lordi made a very unusual stage appearance with an intro from a Skeletor mascot who made his peace and disappeared as quickly as he arrived. This Finland based band hasn’t played in America in 9 years, and it was beyond invigorating to have them back. A common misconception about this band, primarily due to the fact that they dress in wild outfits featuring gory skeleton-monster foam latex sculpted faces with spiked and horned leather and metal crafted attire that make quite the statement, is that they are similar to GWAR. They are very far from it, actually, and if anything, they reminded me of some of the characteristics of Ghost where if you close your eyes you could hear the music and picture them in completely different outfits and they could take on another genre completely. Lordi is completely uncategorizable in terms of genre, and what I heard on this occasion was a vast array of wildly interesting tunes that ranged from dubstep elements to impressive modernized keyboard-driven classical piano and organ tones from the creepy special effects prosthetic face enhanced female keyboardist, to that one time I had to ask myself in my head if I really did in fact just hear some cowbell. They dabbled in ’80s hair metal, hard rock, and even sampled in the GNR for a minute before then running off to a derivative of NWOBHM land. There were a couple of mini stage skits, one of which consisted of a religiously dressed figure who got “killed” and he did a back jump to the ground that was quite fascinating, and a totally whacked-out ’80s break dancing move that somehow fit in well with the overall weirdness of the tune itself. They had those classic European heavy metal elements as well, but then scrambled them up and spit them out in any direction they pleased.
Miraculously and curiously this whole set was full of incredibly odd and wild surprises. Lordi represents the beast within that you can not tame so that your only choice becomes to let it run free and watch it successfully conquer the world with its sheer madness alone. As if it couldn’t get weirder they wacked a chic with a metal folding chair towards the end as a gag that just shocked and entertained in a theater of the absurd kind of way. Hailing from the mid-nineties and heavily influenced by KISS, Lordi has produced many creative albums and Mr. Lordi himself has created the band’s unique horror influenced monster costumes. The age old question of how do costumes influence the music itself as well as should they be included in a live performance are as valid as whether to include a live keyboardist on stage. All cases are their own circumstances in my opinion and in this case the costumes at first seem to have a distant relation to the heavy rock tunes themselves, however once it is understood what the message they are sending is the correlation is quite the brilliant disguise. Seeing a photo of this band from first glance may spark a shallowness, but there is much depth underneath it all to the point where the music is as three dimensional as the costumes themselves. The live keyboardist couldn’t be more of a bonus in creating and expressing the depth and vast array of influence within, not too mention Hella is fantastic at what she does.
I left at the bitter end trying to comprehend the wild beast of an adventure I had just travelled on and as much as I am accustomed to and a fan of horror influenced, costume heavy, and shock rock bands I was still left with a jaw dropping smile on my face. Get your Lordi fix while you still can if you still can because no matter what walk of life you come from you will take away something special from this band as they have an appeal to everyone in the human race.
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More Lordi photos:
Lordi set list:
01. Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe)
02. Babez for Breakfast
03. The Riff
04. Hellbender Turbulence
05. Bass Solo
06. Bite It Like a Bulldog
07. Icon of Dominance
08. Drum Solo
09. Hug You Hardcore
10. It Snows in Hell
11. The Children of the Night
12. Keyboard Solo
13. Down With the Devil
14. Blood Red Sandman
15. Hard Rock Hallelujah
16. Devil Is a Loser
17. Who’s Your Daddy?
18. Would You Love a Monsterman?
Remaining Tour Dates:
02/11/2017 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
02/12/2017 – Merriam, KS @ Aftershock Live
02/13/2017 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze
02/14/2017 – Chicago, IL @ Double Door
02/15/2017 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater *
02/17/2017 – Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
02/18/2017 – Worcester, MA @ Palladium Upstairs
02/19/2017 – Montreal, QC @ Foufounes Electriques
02/21/2017 – Quebec City, QC @ Le Cercle
02/22/2017 – Toronto, ON @ Opera House
02/23/2017 – New York, NY @ Stage 48
02/24/2017 – Lancaster, PA @ Chamelon Club
02/25/2017 – Batltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
02/27/2017 – Atlanta, GA @ The Loft at Center Stage
02/28/2017 – Tampa, FL @ Orpheum
03/02/2017 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
03/03/2017 – San Antonio, TX @ Fitzgeralds
03/04/2017 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
* = w/ Overkill & Nile