W.A.S.P. Newcastle Mayfair Rock Night 21st Sep 1984
It was Friday Rock night at Newcastle Mayfair and the headline band was a new act, called W.A.S.P. Now W.A.S.P. are an American heavy metal band, whi formed in 1982, and emerged from the same L.A. scene as Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, and Ratt (and later Guns N’ Roses). There has been a lot of speculation about what the band’s name means, and whether it actually stands for anything. One interpretation is “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants”, particularly as the early W.A.S.P. song “Show No Mercy” contains the repeated line “White Anglo-Saxon / A violent reaction”. However, the original U.S. release of their debut album had the words “We Are Sexual Perverts” inscribed on both sides around the label in the center. When asked about the band’s name leader Blackie Lawless avoided giving a straight answer: “We Ain’t Sure, Pal.” In a later interview, Lawless stated the main reason for the name was the full stops (periods), and that they created a “question mark of uncertainty” to make W.A.S.P. stand out more.
These guys were crazy, wild heavy rock theatre. From the fold-out poster programme that I bought at the gig”: “W.A.S.P. is extreme heavy metal. They don’t stop with leather and studs, chains and spikes – they wield circular sawblades onto metal codpieces and armbands. Bare-assed on stage, they throw raw meat at the audience and drink blood from a skull – and this is only the beginning. Blackie Lawless (leader, lead singer, bass, songwriter) hung out with Ace Frehley (Kiss) in a tough street gang until being seriously stabbed at the age of 13. He went on to a two-year sentence at a military school in Florida. After 18 months Blackie was expelled for beating up a sergeant major, but he broke his knuckles in the process….Blackie took up guitar and did a stretch with the notorious New York Dolls. Randy Piper (guitar) quit school at 15 and slowly worked his way to L.A. He worked 10 days in Disneyland sweeping up, before getting fired for drunkenness. Tony Richards (drums) got himself thrown out of a dozen different schools for various kinds of anti-social behavior by the time he was 15. Included with the more common fighting, drinking and drug charges were getting caught in the closet with a young female teacher and burning the school’s football team’s equipment. Chris Holmes (guitar), the madman whose mother was a Hells Angel (and still beats the shit out of people who argue too much). Chris was kicked out of school at the tender age of 7 – for savagery. These four guys were obviously meant for each other.”
Is this for real ?
The programme went on: “By May of 1983, W.A.S.P. could sell out the 3000 seat Santa Monica Civic and put on a show that was truly over the top and very controversial. Blackie arranged for a Red Cross Blood Drive during a three-day sod-out run at the Troubadour: fans who gave blood would get in free. But when the Red Cross found out that Blackie drinks animal blood on stage, they didn’t want the band’s blood, or most of the fan’s blood, either. A greater controversy exists over the ‘rack’ [W.A.S.P. would torture a girl on a rack on stage] and feminist groups condemn the onstage treatment of women by W.A.S.P. …YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.”
W.A.S.P. had just released their latest single “Animal (**** Like a Beast)” and their eponymous debut album, and delighted the Geordie rock crowd with a typically OTT performance of slabs of heavy metal, and very un-PC rock theatre. Good unclean fun. Support came from UK NWOBHM glamsters Wrathchild. I saw W.A.S.P. again at Donington a few years later, and they were equally crazy. Now a Born Again Christian, Blackie Lawless continues to lead W.A.S.P to this day.
Setlist: On Your Knees; The Flame; Hellion; L.O.V.E. Machine; Sleeping (in the Fire); Tormentor; School Daze; The Torture Never Stops; I Wanna Be Somebody; Animal (*** Like a Beast)