Anvil: Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA 1/17/10

Never have I heard the “F-word” used so frequently and so friendly in speech.  Nor have I ever seen someone use a golden vibrator to play an electric guitar on stage while in the face of their diehard fans.  And I know for sure that I have never been to a concert where the whole band came out into the crowd to greet anyone who wanted to stick around and say hello to them after the show.  Then again, I had never seen the Canadian metal band, Anvil, in concert before. 

Sunday night, Anvil, currently one week deep in a tour that stretches across the entire country and parts of the world, brought their heavy metal to the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia.  The three piece metal band brought the experience to a group of fans who have been longing for the band to hit it big for years.  The crowd, made up of a wide demographic ranging from hardcore thrash fans to avid music fans, all took part in the celebration of a lifelong dream of a band that deserved much more than they were dealt.    

Many of you may not know who Anvil is for a variety of reasons.  The first reason could be because Anvil is a metal band from the early 1980s and you don’t really enjoy thrash metal.  The second could be because they hail from Canada and there has tended to have been a sense of isolation with Anvil in that respect.  The other reason why you haven’t heard of the most influential heavy metal band in history is because Anvil never overcame their poor management problems and record label nightmares… until now.

The success of the documentary titled “Anvil!  The Story of Anvil” has launched the band into the forefront of the rock world over the past year and a half.  Once I watched the rock-umentary, I knew instantly that I had to see Anvil when they came to Philly.  

Anvil has been cited widely by the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeath and countless other metal bands that will testify, as the most influential thrash metal band of all-time.  The band is made up of a passionate and emotion-filled lead singer and guitarist named Lips, a dedicated an ever-talented drummer named Robb and an intense looking, but very cool and collective bass player who goes by the name Glenn Five. 

Taking the stage around 9:15pm, Anvil got the evening started with “666” and “School Love” off of two of their early releases, Metal on Metal and Backwaxed. 

Lips was all smiles as he tore through heavy solos in the arms of his devout fans.  With sweat dripping from his face, Lips embraced the entire audience as friends and kept in conversation throughout the night. 

Midway through the show Lips and Glenn Five took to the side of the stage to allow for the thunderous drumming to take over as Robb blitzed into a long drum solo.  With double-bass action and ear-splitting cymbal rolls, Robb vigorously owned his set. 

Continuing on, Anvil busted out “This Is Thirteen,” the title track from their latest record, along with “Thumb Hang,” the very first song Robb and Lips put together.  “Thumbs will twist/can you resist?/ Beware the name’s on the inquisitor’s list.”  The roots to those lyrics came from back in high school when their social studies class was studying the Spanish Inquisition.  One of the torture methods, interestingly enough, was to hang people by their thumbs.  For Robb and Lips, that was the moment when their inaugural song was born.  

Towards the end of the show, Lips cued the band and dove into the signature power chords to their song “Metal on Metal.”  “You think we’re gonna go a whole show without playing that f****** song, man!”, Lips screamed in excitement to the crowd.   With his foot on the barricade, he soaked up as much of the audience as he could before the night was about to expire. 

After the show, the whole band came out to greet those who stuck around.  No way was I leaving, my goal, as always, is to get a picture with members of the band.  The crowd swarmed Robb, Glenn and Lips as they came out one by one.  You could tell how much they really appreciated being there and how they have lived for that moment.  The venue security, or demons as I like to call them, kept moving the band back out to the point where they were taking pictures with everyone outside on South Street. 

When I spoke with Lips last week on the phone before the first night of the tour I asked him, “How do you define success?”  With a simple, yet profound, reply Lips said, “Success is doing what you love, and getting away with it.”  Well, after seeing Anvil this past Sunday, it is truly evident that Lips, Robb and Glenn Five are living the rock star dream.  What separates them from the herd is that they are sharing in celebration with everyone else and loving every moment of it.

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