WARLORD @ Principal Club Theatre, Thessaloniki, Greece
in Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at Principal Club Theatre
by Vasilis Odontidis
WARLORD. A band that counts more than 30 years of existence but with more than two decades of inactivity, three records and a handful of lives was recently resurrected as its founding members guitarist Destroyer and drummer Thunderchild aka William J Tsamis and Mark S. Zonder joined forces again. After delivering us their third album “The Holy Empire” four live dates followed, one in Germany headlining the Keep It True festival and the rest in Greece one in Thessaloniki and the other two in Athens. Having played before only in Wacken in 2002 the news brought delirium and excitement to their dedicated fan base that all those years was waiting for that moment.
I was lucky enough to watch them perform live in my hometown Thessaloniki on Wednesday 24th of April 2013. While I read that the show would start at 21:30 I arrived with my buddy Thanasis short breathed only to find that the show would eventually start at 22:00. No band was supporting them that night and the Principal club was packed with an approximate number of 500 people (I am not good at numbers it could be more but not less). At 22:00 blue lights started lighting the stage and intro music started to play only to be followed by the introductory arpeggio of “Deliver Us” from the band’s first record “Deliver Us”. For the next half an hour the band played all the songs from that legendary record, one after another with the exception of “Lucifer's Hammer". Then followed the rest of the songs of the first period of the band “Lost and Lonely Days”, “Aliens” and “Soliloquy”. Then half the songs of the last record “The Holy Empire” were played before us including “Father”, “City Walls of Troy”, “Kill Zone” and “Glory” the first two being very old compositions again from the first era of the band. Next treat was two songs from the “Rising out of the Ashes” record “War in Heaven” (my most favorite one) and “Winds of Thor”. The band left us for a short period for some extra breaths and return for the encore and the final onslaught that took form in the songs of “Lucifer’s Hammer” and “Achille’s Revenge”.
I am not sure how to continue after this as I will try to be as objective as possible but the fact is that words probably fail to describe this once in a lifetime live experience. First of all the band focused on their very early material and played all the songs from that era satisfying the hard core base of their fans and eventually doing justice to that record that was never played live. There were a bunch of errors (some missed notes, Tsamis having no sound in the first half minute of the show or Lavery messing the intro of “Mrs Victoria”). But on the other hand there was a band that was hearts and minds into this playing with uncountable passion and delivering shivers and magic while performing those songs; and that dedication overshadows everything. There are no words other than pure magic when the chorus of “Deliver Us” was vibrating the atmosphere, the intro riff of “Winter Tears” was heard, the “Child of the Damned” was dragging people into a mad headbanging with its raw energy or the ending of “Black Mass” where Mark Zonder was having two extra sets of arms and foots delivering lessons of the highest class drumming. And what can be said about William Tsamis when he unleashed all those riffs and leads one after another showing such a rare craftsmanship. And what about when they played the once LORDIAN GUARD then WARLORD songs after Tsamis talked and presented the band to an ecstatic crowd. “War in Heaven” (doing tribute to Vidonne’s vocals) was like the decisive battle between Heaven and Hell was taking place before our eyes and in its aftermath “Winds of Thor” blew away all the remnants.
But WARLORD were not alone in their stage battle on that night. Below them an ecstatic crowd the medium of this music communion was singing every word and every melody delivering and offering, receiving and unleashing. I have been in many lives in my life but it is the first time that I saw people so dedicated and obsessed. Mind you that they became famous for their early material and thus the age span of the crowd was 30s to 50s that waited for so many years to see them live. And I have to admit that I have never seen something like that before, a crowd so passionate with tears in their eyes from times to times.
The most difficult task that night was in the hands of Giles Lavery. The young singer from Australia had a very tough task of properly managing the very demanding vocal works of five predecessors. Though having a small stress and a lack of shows under his shoes he did a great job overpassing my personal expectations. Philip Bynoe is a bass player of highest class playing with precision and seeming to enjoy every second of the show and in times providing backing vocals when needed. Angelo Vafeiadis was the man responsible for dressing each song with his keyboards and indeed he created the proper atmosphere. Paolo Viani was the supporting axeman for William Tsamis either handling main riffs or delivering the endless dual harmonies side by side with Tsamis doing a hell of job. Mark Zonder needs no introduction. The most experienced player with countless lives performances was making the most difficult drum patterns seem like piece of cake playing with a style of the highest class of drummers and enjoying every moment of that live as with Tsamis, WARLORD is their baby and after all those years they could see justice being done to their music. William Tsamis the man who has composed all this music was standing in his spot focused in his instrument, with the signs of his recent very heavy illness deteriorated by the extreme heat inside the club taking their toll on him. And yet for those two hours he stood there, as the true leader the moving force of the band delivering his guitar riffs with precision and passion.
All these words might sound like an exaggeration to someone who reads the review but to those who are familiar with the band and were in one of those lives will probably agree to them. It is not an exaggeration that Mark Zonder who played a countless lives with FATES WARNING or his personal band SLAVIOR said these four lives was the best lives ever. It is not an exaggeration that out of 18 songs in the playlist I liked more than 15 (there has not been a single live that that has ever happened to me). It is not an exaggeration that my friend was shocked to say “I have never seen a band play that much dual harmonies in leads” or to find out that songs like “Black Mass” which sounded so fresh to his ears were actually made three decades ago. And it is not an exaggeration to say that I came from Sweden to see this band in my short term vacation and say that this was the mother of all lives. In other words we came, we saw, they conquered.
P.S. Thanks to Thanasis for everything.
1.Deliver Us From Evil
3. Child of the Damned
4. Penny for a Poor Man
5. Black Mass
6. Mrs. Victoria
7. Lost and Lonely Days
10. City Walls Of Troy
11. Kill Zone
14. War in Heaven
15. Winds of Thor
16. Beginning / Lucifer's Hammer
17. Achilles Revenge
Ticket Price: 30 Euros
23 November 2014