American classic heavy-metallers, MANOWAR, came through Helsinki as part of their Lords of Steel World Tour (leg 2) on March 16th, 2013. The Circus had sold out in only a few hours and was packed to the brim with Manowarriors right from the start. After shows in Oulu and Tampere, this was the final stop in Finland. No cameras or professional photographers were allowed (which seems to be their standard policy, unfortunately), so there won’t be any accompanying pictures for this show.
As a band with a very particular image, the idea of a MANOWAR concert can bring forth many preconceived expectations. Classic MANOWAR paints a picture of beefy men in leather, rocking one hell of an impressive PA system, blowing your ears out with their massive sound, and a crowd of the most dedicated followers imaginable. The show was not exactly what could have been expected, but was quite an event either way.
The PA system was the first thing of note, before the band even made their appearance. Clearly, The Circus was unable to handle MANOWAR’s legendary sound level on their own (it’d be hard to imagine a small venue that could), so they haul their massive system with them wherever they go. It cuts the stage size in half, but that’s not really a problem for these guys. Though they had a little bit of a late start, they pounded onto the stage, crazy vibrations racing through every single body in the crowd, starting the show loud and proud with their self-titled track, “Manowar.”
The band was visually about two thirds of what would have been expected. Having the prime of their youth behind them, these old gents are not the beefy, glistening, macho guys in tight leather they once were, but aged metalheads in looser-fitting black pants, Kevlar-style vests, and some of them had spandex-type undershirts. So there were no glistening pecs or rippling biceps in this gig, but I guess not everyone can keep up that sort of an image forever. What really showed through, however, was their desire to still have a kickass show, no matter what.
It was very clear that MANOWAR has serious consideration for every single person in the crowd. About halfway through the first track, bassist Joey DeMaio stopped the song because the force from the crowd was so intense that it almost toppled over the barrier between the crowd and stage, which would have likely resulted in a few people getting crushed. He said that they wanted everyone to have a good time, and didn’t want to see anyone getting hurt. He asked the crowd to take a step or two back, and once it looked safe, they restarted the song from the beginning, so no one would feel ripped off by the pause. Another incident happened after a few more songs, when vocalist, Eric Adams, noticed a man in boots crowdsurfing and “kicking all the hot women in the face,” and called for him to be thrown out for ruining everyone else’s good time. The crowd let up a roar of approval, and the show picked with the next song.
MANOWAR is still claiming the loudest sound system around, and that doesn’t seem like an exaggeration. The aforementioned PA system was huge, and the drums pounded so hard that it felt as though your heart could stop beating but you’d live out the rest of the show because the bass would keep your blood pumping. It was definitely an intense feeling, to the point where a few people confessed to feeling a bit sick from how sharply it blasted through every inch of you.
The setlist was comprised of as many fist-pumping, big-energy songs as you might hope, as well as a ballad or two. A short ways into the show, vocalist Eric Adams introduced Karl Logan, the fluffy-banged guitarist, who set into a solo performance. Unfortunately, DeMaio stopped the show again, because the “ladies up front with the nice tits” were getting squashed by the crowd pushing too hard forward. He again requested that everyone take a step or two back so that no one would get hurt. With that, Logan finished up his solo, leading into “Brothers of Metal (part 1)” and the crowd stayed obedient for the rest of the show.
Unless you were right up front in the death-zone, it was so packed in there that it was tough to see the stage through all the fists and NABIWAR salutes. However, in those moments you could see the stage, Eric Adams was belting out with zealous, expressive gestures and as much enthusiasm as some men half his age. He was even spotted pointing to certain people in the crowd, gesturing that they should do the MANOWAR salute, and not stopping until he saw what he wanted to see. Though he wasn’t much of a talker between songs, he seemed like the kind of frontman who is going to make sure that everyone in the crowd is getting off on the music, and if you aren’t, he will find you and make sure you’ve got your fists in the air when he’s done with you!
DeMaio’s solo was about halfway through the show. He started out with a bit of a Spanish flare, then proceeded to stop and use the blasting sounds from his thin-necked heavy metal bass to rev up the crowd and make them scream. To finish, he did some classic DeMaio shredding with some fast taps and fingerwork. After he finished, there were only two songs before drummer Donnie Hamzik had his solo turn as well. Apart from Adams, everyone had their turn to show off the skills that have made them so legendary amongst metal bands.
One of the real highlights of the show was when DeMaio expressed his particular love for Finland. He said this crowd was respectful and enthusiastic, and he mentioned that anyone speaking Finnish sounds like a total badass, and proceeded to list off an impressive collection of Finnish phrases that he has learned over the years. His favorites of course, included the curses, and his particular favorite was, “jumalauta” [goddamn]. They promised that they’d be back to Finland soon, and ended the show with the title track of their latest album, “The Lords of Steel.”
They weren’t offstage for more than a minute before the crowd’s screams for more called them back to perform “Warriors of the World United” and “Black Wind, Fire and Steel” for the encore. It seemed like every single fist was in the air for those last two tracks, and DeMaio finished it off with a dramatic display of ripping each of his bass strings free and tossing them into the crowd.
The show was definitely a sight to be seen and very unique among metal gigs. It seemed to bring out the manliness in most men (as seen by arm wrestling contests in the crowd and an abundance of bro-hugs), and the sexiness in the women (all the girls were dressed up to look their hottest). If you’re any sort of fan of ’80s classic heavy metal, MANOWAR is definitely something you should check out at least once, and it will probably leave you with a ringing in your ears so strong that you’ll want to see it again.
2. Call to Arms
3. Sign of the Hammer
4. The Power
5. Hail, Kill and Die
6. Karl Logan guitar solo
7. Brothers of Metal pt. 1
10. El Gringo
11. Thunder in the Sky
12. Joey DeMaio bass solo
13. The Sons of Odin
14. Hand of Doom
15. Donnie Hamzik drum solo
16. Kill With Power
17. Kings of Metal
18. Hail and Kill
20. The Lord of Steel
21. Warriors of the World United (encore)
22. Black Wind, Fire and Steel (encore)
Outro: The Crown and the Ring
Written by Bear Wiseman