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METAL SHOP, p.18-19, Summer 1989

 by Marina Zogbi

  Circus Of Power and Danzig playing the same night at The Ritz in New York
City?  I predicted a surprise special guest appearance by Jim Morrison's
disgruntled corpse (Ghost Of Rock'n'Roll Past) but it never happened.
Actually, there WAS one exceptionally cadaverous-looking person in a hand-
painted Samhain jacket whose face I couldn't see...
  Things got off to a late start.  C.O.P. did not go on at 11:00 PM as
promised, but nearly two hours later.  So I watched New York speedcore band
Carnivore-- one song "God Is Dead," I quite liked- but was too busy counting
Misfits/Samhain t-shirts and jackets to pay attention.  Interesting crowd.
Lots of bands boast a crossover audience.  This was the real thing, not a
metal audience with a sprinkling of hardcore kids.  And these were PUNKS
circa 1979 with spiky hair and mohawks.  I kept thinking I spotted
Glenn Danzig until I realized there were LOOKALIKES.  No easy achievement
unless you're a short, stocky intense-looking guy with black hair flopping
in your eyes, sleeveless black shirt, and a frightening tattoo on your upper
left arm.  Most were. (None however had managed to cultivate those
distinctive sideburns--dead giveaway, boys!)  Anyway, having never seen
Danzig (or the Misfits or Samhain) live and therefore never having seen
Glenn's devout followers all in one place, I now understand the extent of
his cult status bigtime.
  Circus Of Power played a good solid, if somewhat time, set.  I love this
band, but I think I liked them better at Limelight when Alex Mitchell spit
onto, rolled around on and nearly fell off the stage.  Great songs too.
  I wasn't quite prepared for Danzig even though (or maybe because) I'd
listened to the new LP for weeks on end.  I just couldn't seem to get it off
my turntable!  The record is subdued and moody, its violence contained.
While Glenn alternately sighs and shouts his way through the songs and the
band does burn, it's a beautifully controlled performance.  There's power in
those grooves, but it's tempered, manipulated--thanks in large part to
producer Rick Rubin.  Danzig live is another experience altogether.
  After a smoky and forboding taped intro which had the crowd HOWLING in
anticipation, Danzig hit the stage amid lights to slam into "Twist Of Cain."
The effect of those first chords unleashed something fierce in the
audience who immediately began their own fulltilt slam.  The effect on ME
was something best envisioned as a big Batman-like POW in the face.  The
violent intensity of those first few moments somehow, amazingly, never did
let up.
  Visually, the band is a striking lot, dressed in black.  Drummer Chuck
Biscuits, the only fairhaired member sat high on his spotlit throne, flailing
away like some crazed marionette whose strings are being yanked by a mad
puppeteer.  Guitarist John Christ and bassist Eerie Von, barechested and
gleaming, stood grounded, leather-clad legs planted firmly apart, heads
wrenching and black hair whipping in unison.  It was the perfect visual
counterpart for the stalking menacing Glenn whose whole being seemed to be
caught up in some unholy, unseen force.  Every muscle clenched so that even
when he's standing still, he's seismic.  He was constantly smacking the hands
of ecstatic fans.  No between-song patter, they let their music do the
talking (and not always in civilized tones).  The tight, muscular playing,
felt in the gut, packed a colossal wallop.  No lulls.  No time to catch your
breath.  Even "She Rides," slow and bluesy on record, was pounding and
forceful live.  No crooning here, baby, Glenn wailed, shouted and roared.
Only a voice like his could command a band like this!
  A highlight?  The pulverizing cover of Elvis Presley's "Trouble."  How
perfect that Mr. D. should choose this particular threatening gem.  With what
glee must he have yelled the classic line "'cause I'm EVIL..."  Indeed, I had
to chucle.  I also had to face the undeniable fact that Glenn could put
every living Elvis impersonator to SHAME if he wanted.
  And the band!  Christ was constantly amazing, playing with tasteful fury.
Von, the scariest looking, pummeled his instrument mercilessly, yet with
finesse.  (Glenn hasn't kept him all these years 'cause he's cute.) Biscuits
lived up to his sterling rep as a powerhouse drummer pumping each song full
of lead.  No weak links.  The inspired din elicited severe physical reactions
from not only the stageside moshing crowd (especially during old Misfits
songs) but from those upstairs in the "industry" seats as well.  A close
friend (who goes to speedmetal shows regularly) suffered head and neck
trauma from the night's headbanging for the whole week after this show.  I
myself didn't realize how hard I was pounding the railing (until the next
day when I couldn't unclench my fist).  I left The Ritz shaky but
exhilarated, badly needing a cigarette.  It was that kind of a show.
  UPDATE: The next night, MTV's "Headbanger's Ball" finally "premiered" the
controversial "Mother."  They had previously refused to do it.  "Twist Of
Cain" should debut as well depending on how wimpy MTV gets.  If Danzig
should happen to play in your town, you know what to do.