Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ripple Field Trip - Weed Is Weed/Manilla Road at Saint Vitus 11/22/14

So last week I get a message from Ripple boss Racer asking me if I want to go see Weed Is Weed at the Saint Vitus club here in Brooklyn on Saturday night. But, of course! I always like to check out the other Ripple label bands and Saint Vitus is a great venue. A couple days later it dawns on me to find out who else is on the bill. Turns out the night is being headlined by Manilla Road, a metal band so obscure I've known the name for decades but had never actually heard their music. I remember Bob Muldowney always gave them great reviews in KICK*ASS but I could never find the albums anywhere. Rather than listen to anything that's been uploaded to youtube I decided to trust Bob's wisdom and check 'em out stone cold.

To make the night even better, my buddy Jay from the UK happened to be in town and rode shotgun with me to the gig. Jay used to write for Sounds in the early 80's and has seen a few decent shows - Thin Lizzy, Status Quo, UFO and Motorhead all at their peak. You know that famous show at Castle Donnington in 1980 with Rainbow, Judas Priest, Saxon, etc? He was there. Reading in 82 with Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Blackfoot, Budgie, Gary Moore, etc as well. (Budgie was the best of that fest, he says).

So we listen to Deep Purple on the ride there and walk into the club just as Polygamist is finishing up their set. The song or two I heard was pretty cool. Very Pentagram influenced with Halford style vocals. Weed Is Weed was up next. I had no idea they had a triple axe attack. 2 Les Pauls and an SG! The opening song was "Weed Is Weed" and they let everyone know that they're heavily into weed. Heavy Sabbath style riffing with a tighter than shit rhythm section. They played a bunch of songs from their brand new debut album like "Big Green Patch," "One Hit Wonder" and the title track "Blunt Force Trauma." They did a great song about stealing people's lighters that's not on the album. There was a great tune they played towards the end of their set that had a killer Zeppelin groove to it (didn't catch the title). They finished their set up with a dedication to Jeff Hanneman called "Raining Bud." For years people have criticized my dopecentric lyrics in Mighty High and it made me smile to hear others doing something equally juvenile.

Last up was Manilla Road. For such an obscure band out of Kansans the place was packed for them. Bob Muldowney had always praised the guitar work of Mark 'the Shark' Shelton and, as usual, Bob did not steer me wrong. Mark is a serious player and the band was outstanding. I could recognize elements of 70's Judas Priest and Scorpions but Manilla Road has a very unique sound and style. Progressive but not too wanky and heavy as hell. Their album Crystal Logic is highly regarded and the songs they played from it were fantastic. The newer material they played was also great. Best of all was watching how much fun the band was having on stage and the rabid reaction of the crowd. Most of them were a lot younger than Jay and me and they were doing some serious headbanging. Always a great sight and it was a great night. 

- Woody

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