Review and Photos By Kyle Harcott
Regardless of the already early show being truncated further by the venue not opening their doors until an hour after they were scheduled to (thus forcing each of the bands to shorten their sets further), the faithful and true came out to fly their flags in support of this once-in-a-generation show from Newcastle originators Raven.
After finally getting in the joint and hitting the bar (alas, no a Nooky Broon in seit this neet – I had to settle for overpriced Canadian), I was on my way back to my compadres when I bumped into Vancouver’s metal historian Rattlehead, holding court in in his mint-condition ‘Kill ‘Em All For One’ tour shirt, which he must have been keeping hermetically sealed in a vault since he bought it in ’83 (no shit, the shirt is pristine). I asked him when the last time Raven was in our fair city – and he seemed pretty sure they hadn’t been here since ’85; like I said, once-in-a-generation.
I had been jealous when I read about the lineup for Toronto’s Raven show in (reviewed here on Hellbound by Natalie Zed), and just wasn’t sure Vancouver’s roster would match up. But damned if I wasn’t seriously pleasantly surprised by Edmonton’s Striker (no, not locals Stryker as expected by a few in the crowd), who undertook the twelve-plus-hour drive from their city on the morning of the show (!), just for the chance to open for the mighty Raven. Another in the line of newschool bands playing oldschool metal, Striker brought some serious speed-metal chops to the stage, and put on a hell of a show in the process – every song sounds ike it’s ripped right from the Banzai Records catalog circa 1983. Striker has one hell of an air-raid siren in Dan Cleary, and a couple of twin-lead prodigies in Chris Segger and Ian Sandercock. But more than the sum of their talent, Striker are really just fun to watch. The guys are having a ball up there and bring the audience along with them for the ride. The big finale was their sing-along “The Keg That Crushed New York” with its chanted chorus ‘Metal heads, metal heads, drinking beer and breaking shit’ and it brought the house down. Can’t wait to see Striker back in these parts again, hopefully next time they get a longer set.
Locals Magnus Rising were up next, and out of the gate they came across as the odd band out this night. I don’t know whether it was because their brand of groove-/grunge-laden metal seemed out-of-place on the bill, or if it was because Striker was such a tough act to follow – but unfortunately, Magnus Rising just didn’t grab me.
Entropia were up soon after, after a false start with a disappearing soundman, and proceeded to rally the crowd with their brand of aggro-thrash. Angus Lummis is a charismatic frontman, and had the crowd whipped up in no time. A lot of their shortened set focused on latest album Electric Chaos, but they managed to chuck in a Sabbath cover (“Symptom of the Universe”) for good measure. As I recall, they closed with “Disciples Of Aggression” and for me, it drove home that Entropia is a local band to keep an eye on.
Raven hit the stage like an atom bomb about 9:30 and proceeded to remind the crowd that, even 35 years into their career, trial and tragedy besides, they still bring the athletic rock like nobody’s business. When I stopped to remind myself that Raven, alongside perhaps only Motörhead, pretty much invented the genre that became known as speed metal, and later thrash, this was special to see indeed. John Gallagher is a fantastic frontman, constantly engaging the crowd and keeping everybody excited, fists in the air. And the voice! Still nailing those impossible high-note passages like his pipes haven’t aged a bit. His brother Mark is John’s comedic foil, equally as engaging and charming, and mugging for the crowd every chance he got. To think this man nearly lost his legs nine years ago after being crushed by a retaining wall – Well, you wouldn’t think it to see him play live. He’s all over the stage with the energy of a man half his age. Meanwhile, the mighty Joe Hasselvander, the anchor, keeps the whole thing nailed down tight from his captain’s chair in back.
The set was faithful to the oldschool, as well as reminding everyone that Raven’s still well in the game, with a couple of tracks featured from last year’s fantastic welcome-back album, Walk Through Fire. As the set wound to a too-soon close, the band whipped out a medley of old-time-rock-and-roll bookended by “Break the Chain”, almost as a reminder to everyone where the seed was first planted – including a brief nod to Canuck soil with a bit of ‘Shakin’ All Over’, as well as a cheeky ‘Symptom of the Universe’, with a friendly wink-and-a-nod to Entropia standing sidestage. And with that, the set was over.
But then the Gallagher brothers came out for a quick meet and greet, posed for pics, signed everybody’s albums and generally reminded everyone that, originators of a genre or not, they’re just thankful and happy to still be playing to appreciative fans all over the world. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 25 years for them to return! All for One!
Raven Set list:
1. Take Control
2. Live At The Inferno
3. All For One
4. Breaking You Down
5. Rock Until You Drop
6. – Mark Gallagher solo –
7. Medley: Speed Of The Reflex / Run Silent, Run Deep / Mind Over Metal
8. Long Day’s Journey
9. Lambs to the Slaughter
11. On And On
12. For The Future
14. – John Gallagher solo –
15. Medley: Break the Chain / Shakin’ All Over / I Don’t Need No Doctor / Symptom Of The Universe / Won’t Get Fooled Again / Summertime Blues / Genocide / Break The Chain (reprise)