Metal Church at The Underworld, London
TUESDAY 10TH MAY 2016
By Dawn King
Ever since The Underworld announced back in February of this year a one off UK date for one of my favourite metal bands of all time, I knew I had to be there. After over two decades away from British shores, Metal Church were coming back, and with a new album to boot.
Their eleventh studio album, appropriately named XI, marked the return of vocalist Mike Howe after twenty years out of the band, debuting at number 57 on the US Billboard chart and the ensuing tour of the US, with substitute guitarist Chris Caffery, who was deputising for the side-lined Rick Van Zandt, went down a storm.
The one and only UK date, held on the anniversary of original singer, David Wayne’s, death, was no different.
Opening up with Fake Healer, from the 1989 album Blessing in Disguise, the tone was set for the rest of the gig. Followed by In Mourning, from Howe’s second album The Human Factor, and Start The Fire from The Dark, the new album wasn’t even mentioned until the fourth song in when the band, and the crowd, erupted with Reset, proving that the mass of metal-heads, of all ages, appreciated the new songs as well as the old.
God of Second Chance from 1994’s Hanging in the Balance and The Human Factor’s Date with Poverty followed before the band reverted back to the new album. The only introduction the song needed was “the video we made” and the whole crowd knew No Tomorrow, my personal favourite from the album, was up next.
And of course, no Metal Church gig would be complete without the classic Watch the Children Pray from the aforementioned album The Dark, everyone singing along word perfect.
No Friend of Mine, new song Killing Your Time, and fan’s favourite Beyond the Black from their 1984 debut album, Metal Church, completed the set but it didn’t end there.
After rapturous chants of “Metal Church, Metal Church” the band took to the stage once more for their encore of Badlands and ended with Human Factor, disappointing some of the more hardened fans by not finishing with the definitive Metal Church.
But did this take away from the atmosphere of the gig? Certainly not. The crowd were enthusiastic and energetic and so were the band. In my humble opinion, if a band seems as if they are having a good time, so will everyone else and, with vigorous drumming from Jeff Plate, riffs galore from guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof and onstage antics between Steve Unger on bass and Rick Van Zandt, also on guitar, along with the powerful, unfaltering vocals from Mike Howe, these guys were definitely having fun.
Their interaction with the fans, both during the gig and afterwards, with signing and photo opportunities, shows this is a band who value those who got them where they are, and who keep them there. They are a band for the fans, and, I, being one such fan, who never thought she would ever see them, hope they come back to our shores very soon.
Metal Church are back at the top of their game and I defy anyone not to have a good old head bang at one of their gigs.
Mike Howe – Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof – Guitar
Jeff Plate – Drums
Steve Unger – Bass
Rick Van Zandt – Guitar
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