DSC_0798W.A.S.P. – Stage One, December 5 2009

Even after all these years Blackie Lawless can still carry a crowd but the ability to do so at such a diverse festival is a rare talent indeed. While a good number of W.A.S.P. fans ensured the band’s main stage slot was the best supported of the weekend this was, by no means, a partisan gathering.

And yet even if you’ve never really appreciated Blackie’s unique brand of angst-ridden metal the man is a born performer and brillaint to watch. Stripped of any on-stage gimmicks but ably supported by a red hot band, this was a set high on emotion and bursting with energy.

L.O.V.E. Machine was when it all got going and even the one-dimensional nature of W.A.S.P.’s power chords and cliched lyrics doesn’t matter one jot when the band’s main man is in such commanding form. Snarling, growling and frowning his way through a fantastic array of cult classics, the momentum never dipped. With each W.A.S.P. standard scores more flocked through the doors realising this was a set not to be missed – as many veteran musicians as manic fans enjoying Blakie’s bubblegum shock rock blasts.

The Idol benefited from a glorious guitar joust and a soaring finale while Take Me Up, from 2007’s often overlooked Dominator, proved W.A.S.P. has continued to deliver worthy new material for 25 years now. New album Babylon is another conclusive case in point but perhaps the fact that this wasn’t a W.A.S.P. crowd meant Blackie didn’t quite have the balls to cull more from this year’s raucous return to form.

I Wanna Be Somebody had the capacity crowd begging for more but that was just about that from the ruthless Lawless. For the main stage bands that followed W.A.S.P. the question must have been how to match Blackie’s famed standard. Neither Queensryche nor New York Dolls could manage it and that, in itself, tells you all you need to know about the kings of Hard Rock Hell III.