40 Year Anniversary Tour

Special Guest Armored Saint

The Grove – Anaheim, CA

Saturday, October 29th, 2022

Review/Pics: Will

The W.A.S.P. / Armored Saint tour has been one of my most anticipated of the year since it was announced.  W.A.S.P. back touring in the U.S.?!?!  Could it be?! Well Anaheim was surely ready as this show sold-out almost as soon as it went on sale.

I last saw them in the States in 2010 and was lucky enough to catch them in Belfast, N. Ireland on their 35th anniversary, “Re-Idolized” tour in 2017. 

Here’s the question…  Was their much hyped show worth the wait?!  Well…Yes. Kinda.

But first: 

Armored Saint

I love, love, love Armored Saint.  Seeing them added as Special Guest to this tour made this dude extremely happy because The Saint just don’t have bad shows.  And last night was again another blinder of a set. 

Kicking off with “Reign Of Fire“, the band shredded through a great mix of old and new classics including, “End Of The Attention Span“, “Missile To Gun” and “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” from the amazing (WillToRock 2020 Album of the Year) “Punching The Sky“. 

The energy from John Bush and Joey Vera always makes me believe that they undergo a Possession of sorts before each show. They are not playing music..  they are channeling it!

And THANK Goodness that Joey (Who also slams the bass with Mercyful Fate; playing “just up the road” this night) made the decision to stick with HIS band for this tour because it just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Jeff Duncan is a steady, killer rhythm guitarist with some great shredding solos. Conversely I feel like Phil Sandoval in the past few years has really upped his stage game. He’s so animated and his guitar work and solos are incredibly nuanced. They’re not talked about enough when it comes to twin guitar attacks in metal bands.

And then there’s Phil’s brother, Gonzo “Drums Of Thunder” Sandoval, who is really one of the great, underestimated Metal drummers out there.  If you’ve got tickets for this upcoming tour, sneak a peak behind his kit when you can and just watch him bash! 

Armored Saint left nothing on the shelf as they ended their set with the on-fire foursome combo of “Symbol Of Salvation“, “Win Hands Down“, “Can U Deliver” and finally, “March Of The Saint“.

A band that deserves WAY more credit than they receive in the pantheon of Metal.  Armored Saint in their storied, already impressive career, are just getting better.  

Armored Saint at City National Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA, USA Setlist


Blackie Is Back!  So Is “Animal (I Fuck Like A Beast)“!  But..  what else is back?!  In the lead up to the tour Blackie Lawless did some interviews that talked about the 40th Anniversary show that he said he’d be bringing to the U.S.  He alluded that it was going to include “lots” of the classic elements that made the W.A.S.P. stage show the thing of legends. And after he saw the stage put together he said it ended up looking better than they even expected it to be.  

Well that’s a big build up that didn’t quite live up to the hype.  The stage show is basically set up as a circus big top of sorts with posters of all the “evil” acts it includes.  The backdrop turns into 3 large screens that projects a lot of videos and some imagery from the history of the band.  

There are a few “heads on spikes” around the top of the stage and there’s “Elvis“; Blackie’s rocking mic stand that looks like something the Predator would have ripped out of a victim and kept as a trophy.  But from a band that had buzzsaw blades, codpiece fireworks, blood being consumed from skulls, raw meat being thrown into the crowd and naked ladies getting sliced up on stage, this was not the spectacle that I and others had anticipated.

Blackie is still on rhythm guitar and the band that make up W.A.S.P. these days are longtime bassist, Mike Duda, with Doug Blair on lead guitar, (who has toured on and off with the band since 1992 and has been along for the ride as a full time member since 2006) and drummer Aquiles Priester who joined Blackie on the aforementioned “Re-Idolized” tour.

The band truly slays and musically all the nuances of the classic W.A.S.P. catalog are preserved and honored during the show. 

If you catch this tour you’re going to get a great swath of ALMOST everything that made them the band you know and love.  A heavy helping of their self-titled debut as well as “The Crimson Idol” take up a lot of the set, but there’s enough flavor from their catalog to make everyone happy. (Although personally speaking I would have loved to have heard either “The Heretic” or the title track from “The Headless Children” and maybe even throw something in from “Kill Fuck Die“.)  But hey, that’s just me.

If you’ve ever seen W.A.S.P. before you know that their sets are relatively short and the trend continues.  The show started off, as did their awesome “Double Live Assassins” album with a 4 song medley including “On Your Knees“, “The Flame“, “The Torture Never Stops” and “Inside The Electric Circus“.  A few other songs were turned into medley’s as well.  I mean you’re getting to hear what you want to hear..  just maybe not the whole thing. That’s not really an issue for me and makes it kind of exciting as one classic melds into another. And any other crowd outside of a So Cal. crowd would probably lose their shit.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…  For the most part L.A. type crowds SUCK!  There’s bursts of energy here and there, but where I grew up (and as witnessed in other States), the intensity shouldn’t stop.  Man, you’ve paid good money… Get excited, yell, scream, throw horns, sing along.  After songs end, keep it going!  It’s honestly embarrassing when a song ends and there’s a few yells, almost polite applause and then you can hear a pin drop.  

But aside from the “usual” local crowd reaction, here’s the one big thing that gnaws at me about the show.  A comment from a friend kind of cemented an observation I had halfway through the set.  “Man, Blackie sounds really good!” (Although the comment from the friend was tinged with sarcasm).  So, with a great view of Blackie from the side of the stage, I could see that some of the vocals weren’t lining up with the song.  Mainly during “Animal” and “The Real Me“.  Look, I don’t know for sure that vocal tracks were used, but as I noticed and my friend suggested, Blackie sounded amazing.  If vocal tracks were used, I do feel gipped a bit.  If not, well Kudo’s, because the main vocals were album worthy.

So concluded a short set that ended with 2 decent sized encores.  During final song, “I Wanna Be Somebody” pictures of every person who at one point had been a member of the band flashed across the screen. The biggest cheers were reserved for all the original members, especially Chris Holmes as well as the late, great Frankie Banali who pounded the living shit out of the Headless Children album.

Look, W.A.S.P. are top 5 in my metal bands that came out of the 80’s and even though this review may seem negative I really enjoyed it.  I loved hearing the songs.  I loved seeing Blackie back doing his thing.  I’ve even got a ticket for their wrap up show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles in December.  I’m expecting that with hindsight, I’m going to enjoy that show even more as I can temper expectations and enjoy it for what it is: The return of W.A.S.P. to the U.S. (As well as another opportunity to soak in the mighty Armored Saint).

W.A.S.P. at City National Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA, USA Setlist

Also, here’s an example of Great Parenting.  The last time this family brought their son to The Grove was to see the Teletubbies.  This time it was to see W.A.S.P. 

Related Links:



Armored Saint