Like a lot of people I had an empathy crush on Anvil after seeing their movie. I remember the first time I saw it, I rushed to my computer looking to buy something or some other way of supporting them. I ended up buying a couple of shirts and their latest album (Thirteen). It’s been a couple of years now and I sort of forgot about them again.
Not too far from where I live there is this little club. No more than 150 people at full capacity, I would guess. When I saw that Anvil was playing, I cleared my schedule, procured a babysitter for my son, got a new copy of the movie on DVD and prepared myself.
The place was packed to the rim, hardly room to breathe. The two girls in the bar were trying their best to keep everybody’s beer lever up. The warm up act was a group of old German guys called Scene X Dream or something like that. They were decent enough. The vocalist sounded a lot like John Arch. They played ok, but had the charisma and stage presence of banana flies.
When Scene X Dream left the stage, it took about fifteen minutes for Anvil to get on stage. Or actually Lips was down with the audience, headbanging and playing. They opened with an instrumental I didn’t know, but it was a great start. Sadly it went downhill from there. I will admit to not being that familiar with Anvil, I didn’t know most of the songs.
Lips was standing up there on stage with his rubber face, just smiling, telling stories in between songs, being goofy and having a blast. About 30 minutes into the set, Lips brakes out the dildo. Apparently this was a big part of their live show back in the day, maybe it was funny when performed by a 20 year old rowdy rocker, but this is just tiresome. AND IT LASTET FOR 20 MINUTES. Some of the drunks in the front seemed to be enjoying it, but even they tired of it before it was done.
By this time the balloon was thoroughly deflated. People started to leave, the band was starting to tire and didn’t play as unit any more. Rob Reiner, while technically flawless, started to loose time. Lips was out of key more than in. They didn’t play together anymore. It got worse and worse as time went on. When they got to the point that was supposed to let Reiner shine on drums with the instrumental track Fling Thing, there was nothing left.
After an hour and a half of continuous downhill, they finally played Metal On Metal and everybody was happy and the show was over. The half of the audience that was still around starting putting on their jackets and mittens, the DJ was blasting some Iron Maiden and the venue people were starting to clear up, when suddenly the band comes back on stage. They want to play an encore!
The front row drunks are cheering, Lips boos the DJ and everybody else is standing around passively watching. They play two more songs nobody knows, then they walk to the front of the stage and take a bow, and it’s finally over for real.
During the show it has become vividly clear to me why Anvil never became superstars, why they got left on the side stage. The songs are not good enough, they lack that little magic touch. The bands performance is lacking, they play as three individuals and not as a group. Lips’ vocals are out of key and just not that good, his guitar playing is ok when playing rhythm, but the solos are embarrassing. The show, an hour and forty minutes total, consists of 20 minutes dildo/guitar solo and 10 minutes drum solo, and is just not interesting, to me at least.
Bottom line, I loved the movie. The way he saw everything as a positive was inspirational, but the perpetual positive attitude can only get you that far. When it comes down to it, the quality of the music and live performance just doesn’t cut it.