High Spirits, Christian Mistress, Savage Master, Hessian – September 10, 2015 – Ralph’s Diner, Worcester, MAMonday, 14th September 2015
Last time I took in Chicago’s High Spirits would be 17 months ago, a Monday night in April at the intimate Dusk nightclub in Providence, RI. Blowing me away through their old school NWOBHM charm and melodic chorus hooks, finding out that Worcester would be on the schedule for this brief late summer touring excursion with Oregon’s Christian Mistress and Kentucky’s Savage Master made this an instant purchase months in advance. Adding Ralph’s favorite Hessian just sweetened the deal that much more.
At the start it appeared that a lot of the attendees wouldn’t make it for the 9:30 set start of Hessian – but 3 songs later, the upstairs was filling in quite nicely. Performing a half hour set of their bone crushing originals, guitarists/vocalists Salli Wason and Angus McFarland enjoy dual workouts and trading off a mix of occult, semi-doom rock and classic metal licks beyond their charismatic singing abilities.
Fan favorites like “Old, Wild and Free”, “Iron Baby”, and set closer “Witch Road” lifted the energy in the room, as the crowd would sing along and head bang to all the right tempo changes. Easy to see why they impress each and every time they hit the stage.
Savage Master from Kentucky may not have been known to many at the start – but their masked appearance and front woman Stacey Peak’s risqué S+M get up certainly made most sit up and take notice. Another band that lives for acts like Acid, Bitch, and Crystal Viper among others, the quintet performed much of their debut album Mask of the Devil – winning over quite a few through songs like “Death Rides the Highway”, “Blood on the Rose”, and the title track. Stacey’s shrill screaming nature can be an acquired taste for some- or a determent to full enjoyment for others. In the end, the shock and awe tactics probably convert more as the tour goes on.
Christian Mistress has a new album on the horizon – so what better way to get your chops up than book a tour and hit the road? The band’s heavy metal platform contains plenty of twin guitar harmonies and slamming tempos – drummer Reuben Storey obliterating his kit while he delivers some interesting facial expression. Christine Davis has that Janis Joplin orientation going about in terms of stage presence and range – making “Haunted Haunted” and new song “Neon” go over amazingly well. The crowd lapped up their 40 minute set and begged for more – unfortunately time constraints could not make this happen. A potent quintet, it’s no wonder Relapse predicts big things for the band.
Just after 12:15 am High Spirits took over the stage – their requisite black shirt/white pants uniformity another added visual element to their addictive, hook laden style. Touring this time as a quartet with vocalist Chris Black taking over double duty on bass while Bob Scott slides over to handle second guitar duties – and the hunger and energy exchange built from beginning to end. Posing and hamming it up in all the right spots with the Ralph’s crowd, numerous sing-a-longs, unison cheers, and fist pumps took place during their 50 minute set.
Going for some deeper cuts beyond their album offerings, we savored songs like “Never Coming Back”, “I Need to Know”, plus “Demons at the Door”- beyond the expected anthems like “When the Lights Go Down”, “Full Power”, and “Another Night in the City”. The band near the conclusion of their set dedicated “High Spirits” to Nunslaughter drummer Jim ‘Sadist’ Konya, recovering from a stroke that occurred last week – and the audience would have a back and forth competition singing the catchy ‘high spirits’ chorus. The band rewarded the faithful with an encore of “Running Home”, the b-side to their 2010 “Let’s Rock” 7 inch.
Proper head banging, occasional crowd surfing, beer consumed and spilled at various times on the audience – a night to celebrate the glory of heavy metal, and what a memorable evening that can be retained in the memory banks for quite a long time.