Anvil / Midnite Hellion – April 4, 2023 – The Space Ballroom, Hamden, CTSaturday, 8th April 2023
The second leg of the US tour in support of Impact Is Imminent by Canadian veterans Anvil started with four shows in New England – this being the last of the four on a Tuesday evening at The Space Ballroom, a cozy venue in the southwestern part of Connecticut. You always wonder what the turnout is going to be on a weeknight – as many patrons obviously have careers, day jobs, or families to attend to. Fortunately for all three bands, the attendance was relatively strong at over one hundred plus by the end of the evening – most of which turned out early for the local openers Balkun Brothers.
A duo of brothers out of Hartford, the older one Steve plays guitar plus bass effects doubling up on vocals while younger sibling Nick pounds away on the drums. Their sound is a mix of stoner rock, doom, and psychedelic heaviness with a slight southern swagger. The occasional feedback along with the right tempo backbeat made things go down quite smooth. You can tell they have solid chops, being together for over a decade plus touring across the US and Europe multiple times.
Second on the bill is New Jersey’s Midnite Hellion, who were also tourmates on the first leg of this US tour last year. A three-piece that serves up a healthy diet of traditional heavy metal with occasional speedy or more melodic leanings, they wasted no time getting the crowd energized through a setlist comprised of choice cuts from their two studio records. The one-two opening punch of “H.M.O.” and “Phantomland” (the latter featuring a classic “Mr. Scary”/Dokken riff) saw many headbang or tapping their hands in approval. Bassist Rich Kubik navigates the crowd admirably, encouraging the audience to get closer to the stage to become one with the band as they traversed through their songs. Favorites included “Cross the Line” from the debut album Condemned to Hell as well as the slower, monstrous “Rapscallion”.
Just before 9:50 pm, the intro tape of Dave Grohl talking about Anvil would take over the airwaves – signaling the instrumental “March of the Crabs” where guitarist/vocalist Lips commands audience rapt attention, using his wireless flying V as a launching pad to take the music into the crowd that forms a circle around him. Over the course of the next hour we would get a ten-song discourse in the discography of these legends – intertwining new songs like “Take a Lesson”, “Bitch in the Box”, and “Legal at Last” with a heavy dose of the classics. The tricks of the trade including extended versions of “Mothra” where Lips gets the audience to sing along with the crowd, plus dildo meets axe action, “Forged in Fire”, as well as the expected singalong set closer “Metal on Metal”. Drummer Robb Reiner gets a four-minute drum solo showcase in the middle of the jazzy “Swing Thing”, while bassist Chris Robertson makes fun, animated faces on stage, providing fluid bass lines as well as cool background vocal support.
You always know Lips is good for a story or two – his quips about being successful doing what you want versus merely being rich, shoutouts to Elvis Presley and Ritchie Blackmore, as well as remembering that it has been over forty years since performing in Connecticut (back in the Johnny Z days, New Haven, 1982) getting the proper roars/cheers from the crowd. The fact that Anvil still enjoy performing live this deep into their career is a testament to the power of heavy metal – and the supporters who came from all around the state (and surrounding ones) left satisfied, as the trio conquered once again.