A Manowar cover band – yes, that got your attention – playing through a malfunctioning sound system at a small dive bar with an alleged cockroach problem.
It wasn’t quite the strangest gig I’d ever been to, but it certainly was peculiar ones. For one thing, did someone say Manowar cover band?
The Triumph Of Steel, Melbourne, November 5, 2016 @ Whole Lotta Love.
Yes. They’re called The Triumph Of Steel and you should definitely see them live.
Consider how much Manowar are the gigantic anti-hipster hipsters of heavy metal. More metal than any metal that ever metalled in Metalville on plant Metal, Manowar are so densely absorbed into everything Manowar — with everything they do being so jaw-droppingly, cringe-inducingly, they-can’t-be serious-grade uncool — that to be serious about liking Manowar seriously is inherently cool.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Manowar, particularly the first half a dozen or so albums in the Manowar discography. It’s just that, if Manowar managed to convey even the tiniest sliver of tongue-in-cheek irony, people would probably be less inclined to believe that Manowar had long, long, long since disappeared up their own arses. Alas, non-seriousness with Manowar there just ain’t. Disregarding the unbelievably homo-erotic band promo shots from their earlier era, the true silliness of what Manowar became is evident in, for example, in printing all lyrics for an entire album in genuinely illegible faux-runes, thereby defeating the purpose of providing lyrics in the first place. Or maybe it started with the line of Manowar Warrior Shield condoms?
From their sixth or so album onwards, Manowar didn’t just jump the shark – they swam some laps together, hung out at the bar afterwards and became best of friends. Consequently, as far as the Manowar of today goes, the Manowar vision of what constitutes heavy metal is single-mindedly inflexible.
Which of course means that The Triumph Of Steel aren’t just any old cover band. They’re a Manowar cover band – and faithfully mimicking a band that morphed into a parody of itself takes a very special kind of wheel on fire.
Thankfully, the Triumph Of Steel were wonderful when I saw them on November 5, 2016 at a little bar called Whole Lotta Love. They put on a good show and did not lack dedication, a feat that is even more notable considering their technical and pest-related (more on this shortly) challenges.
Vocalist Igor’s melodic voice was outstanding. Indeed, merely being a good power-melodic vocalist isn’t easy, but only the leatheriest chaps can properly pay direct homage to Manowar vocalist Eric Adams takes. Filtered through his rich accent, it would have made for a captivating show — were it not for the poor old malfunctioning PA.
"Faaahiiighting, faaahiiighting, fighting the world!"
Through absolutely no fault of their own (I was informed by what I was assured was a reliable source) the house PA was just not playing ball. While the guitar came through ok, the vocals jumped between excessive quietness or cut in and out, possibly because of a loose connection. It wasn’t too bad from the bar and beyond, but it was excruciating at the front of the small stage where I wanted to stand. My gig compadre pointed out that the band were in all likelihood oblivious to what was going out the front. This was probably a good thing as it would have been a shame to see them thrown by somethign that wasn't their doing.
Towards the end of the set, enough beer had been consumed, or perhaps the track selection struck the right power chord (or perhaps a combination of both) that the men at the front (and they were all men) of the stage really got into it. Fighting The World material, it seems, holds a special place for Melbourne heavy metal lovers.
And so The Triumph Of Steel finished their set, to an audience that was small but sincerely appreciative, for the power and the glory and the singalong choruses. When it comes to heavy metal, Manowar are one-of-a-kind, and this Manowar cover band played their role faithfully.
Gig compadre and I stayed back for a drink or two where we had a bit of a chat to guitarist David, who seemed like a nice chap. Last drinks were called and then… cockroaches.
Or to be perfectly honest – one big cockroach, casually making its way across the dance floor. I pointed this out to the reliable source mentioned at the start of this story, who responded by saying that the venue had, apparently, quite recently enlisted the service of a pest controller — but then the joke was that said professional must have missed a spot.
A week or so after the gig I found myself hanging out with a friend, where I casually mentioned this peculiar evening. She mentioned how she’d once ended up there with the intention of enjoying a quiet drink. It was an uneventful night, said the friend (who — and this will become relevant in a moment — is what you’d call small-statured), until she went to the bar and noticed how she rather stood out from the other patrons. She was dwarfed by the great many enormous people all throughout the room who, it turns out, were there to enjoy the dedicated BBW night that was regularly held at the venue.
What a strange thing it is. But actually, it’s just another great night out in Melbourne. I love live music and events in this city and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.