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Firmly embedded in the pop-culture conscience of the twenty first century ever since the award winning documentary film 'Anvil! The Story of Anvil' was released in 2008 to ubiquitous critical acclaim, it's all too easy to forget that the Canadian veterans were, and still are, primarily a metal band. Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and Robb Reiner have become, undoubtedly, famous the world over but with the inherently fickle nature of 'celebrity' all too often associated with only ephemeral bouts of fame, while they might be living their long sought dream of rock stardom at the present time, if their popularity begins to wane, their endearing story of sheer obstinacy and never giving up will be forever remembered. Sustained mass popularity or not, it is the music and metal pride that remains their overriding impetus, and no-one will ever be able to deny them that.

Summer 2011 sees Anvil hit UK shores for a short tour in support of new studio album 'Juggernaut of Justice'. On a humid late-June evening, final date on this leg of the tour before departing for mainland Europe and returning for a couple more shows in London/Wolves the following month, was originally set to take place in Nottingham Rock City's main hall with doors opening at 6:30pm. However, due to poor ticket sales (evidence of waning popularity?), the gig was moved at the eleventh hour to the Rescue Rooms, only a stone's throw from its original location. With no support bands booked, and with Anvil's stage time advertised outside the venue at a rather precise 8:25pm, doors don't actually open until around 7:30pm which prompts the small gathering outside to slowly amble inside. Fortunately, by the time Anvil take to the stage (promptly at 8:25pm and to loud crowd chants of "Lips...Lips...Lips"), the Rescue Rooms is around two thirds full. And eschewing the pretension of intro music and a big stage entrance, the house music is still playing as Lips, Reiner and bassist Glenn Five casually wander out to assume position. House music stops as guitar and bass are plugged in, Reiner grabs his sticks, and Lips jumps down into the photopit to stand close by the crowd who seem rather excited by such close proximity as he plays a few lead parts. When back on stage a few seconds later, he ceases playing, holds his guitar against his face, and yells into the pickup, with his distorted voice heard through the PA - "Sheffield, are you ready to rock?". The audience scream "yeah!" before Lips rectifies his Spinal Tap-esque blunder with, "how could you be?!... I meant Nottingham... Nottingham, are you ready to rock?". More cheers follow from the crowd and Anvil launch into instrumental number 'March of the Crabs' with the expected segue into '666'. Playing for an hour and a half, a few new tracks, namely 'Juggernaut of Justice', 'New Orleans Voodoo', 'On Fire', 'Fuckeneh!' and 'Running' are interposed with a selection of material from their vast back catalogue of alliteratively titled albums including 'School Love', 'This is Thirteen', 'Mothra', the now infamous 'Thumb Hang', 'Forged in Fire' and, of course, their perennially favourite anthem 'Metal On Metal'. Performance-wise, Anvil cannot be faulted tonight with a flawless execution of each song and the jovial vibe conveyed by their stage presence, mainly from Reiner's dynamic presence behind his kit and Lips' range of deranged facial expressions as he grins and gurns at audience members throughout the evening. Further gimmickery manifests when the vibrator makes its anticipated appearance during 'Mothra' as Lips demonstrates there's no need to spend a fortune on an E-Bow when a cheap sex toy will do. However, beyond mere gimmicks, Anvil are a kickass live band who assuredly know how to have fun on stage and convey such conviviality to their audience for everyone leaves the venue with beaming grins at the end of the night.
Saturday 25th June 2011
Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
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