It took me almost 40 years to see W.A.S.P.

W.A.S.P. & Armored Saint | November 26, 2022 | The Plaza Live – Orlando, FL

Historically known for their notoriety of their shock rock-themed image, lyrics and live performances, one of my early favorite bands back when I was in high school (in the mid 80s) was W.A.S.P.  Sadly in all of my concert going years I had never seen them perform live and now with the announcement of the ‘40 Years World Tour 2022’ I will finally have a chance to see this amazing band live twice in two distant cities.

W.A.S.P. formed in 1982 and was a big part of the early 1980s Los Angeles heavy metal scene. My friends and I discovered them from the band’s wild and outlandish video on MTV “I Wanna Be Somebody” and we just fell in love with the band’s sound.

Fast forward forty years and while I sort of lost track of W.A.S.P. over the years as soon as this tour was announced one of my friends was like “DUDE – WE HAVE TO GO!” and alas tickets were purchased for the closest local show in Orlando and for one of their two shows just outside of Chicago. Travel arrangements were made for the out of town trip and now we are just counting down the days until it is time to head across Interstate 4 for the show I have waited all these years to see.

Speaking to the “Appetite For Distortion” podcast, W.A.S.P. leader Blackie Lawless explained why he and his bandmates were absent from U.S. shores for so long. “The fans did this,” he said, referencing the band’s upcoming trek (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “I’ve never seen anything like that. Promoters didn’t think this band could sell tickets anymore. We were being offered stuff that wasn’t very good, and we didn’t wanna do that because the production that we wanted to do was way bigger. And so I just started telling the truth. I said, ‘Hey, it’s down to promoters.'”[1]

Lawless also described how his time as a child living near Tampa, FL was the inspiration for the stage design on this tour to be likened after a 1930s era dark carnival (there is a town near Tampa named Gibsonton that is known for off-season circus performers to live in and around). Lawless said he was fascinated watching the performers practice (mostly trapeze artists), “…So the whole idea of the circus has been something that’s really been part of my makeup…”[2]. He continued on to say that in addition to the carnival setting, the stage design would also encompass “…part ‘Road Warrior’, part voodoo ceremony…”. [3]

To say that I was looking forward to the show(s) is an understatement and as the days till the Florida show hit the single digits I received my photo approval for Orlando and that took my excitement to a whole additional level. Finally, Saturday, November 26th 2022 arrives and it is the day of the show. My friend The Foz and I meet up with my Jedi Behind the lens mentor friend (Lord Nikon) who also is credentialed and we make our way onto the interstate for the two hour drive to Orlando. It is always fun hanging out with Lord Nikon as while he and I are about the same age, he has already forgotten more about music than I will ever know. He is literally an encyclopedia of musical knowledge. The Foz and I go back many decades and it was the first time he and the Jedi met so discussion enroute centered on musical and concert history and stories between the three of us.     

We arrive at the venue, all of us first timers here, and collected our credentials. Lord Nikon and I had friends across the country who had seen and covered this show so we knew of and could see the ‘buzz of the crowd’ as we waited to get inside. Me being a people watcher and always interested in the age demographics I was delighted to see this was a multi-generational show as both of the bands this evening were formed in 1982 collectively giving us eighty years of music throughout the years shared between friends and family that we were in store for.  

Armored Saint played a flawlessly executed fifty minute nine song set spanning their career, with thunderous bass and drum beats along with crushing guitar riffs, strong, clear vocals and an energy from fan engagement they received I got the impression they would have played for us the whole night given the opportunity.  Their twin guitar attack is music to my ears and after my three songs in the photo pit I made my way upstairs to the balcony and having seen every vantage point of the crowd it was apparent how strong of a following the band had and the crowd was happy to show their approval of the set we just witnessed. I was very unfamiliar with their material going and now I know I need to dig way deeper into their discography as I was blown away by how killer their set was.

The W.A.S.P. stage setup and back drop was as advertised and certainly did not disappoint with its eye catching macabre appeal. Lead vocalist Blackie Lawless has the wildest looking microphone stand I have ever seen, in both its sheer size (literally covering him up so anyone directly in the center of the stage had a hard time seeing him sing) and its sick detail that all of us photographers took our turn to get a shot of it in the house lights before the show started. The crowd absolutely roared their approval before even the first note was played and you could feel the literal anticipation in the air as it was apparent I was not the only one who had waited a long time for this moment. One bright note, for the band’s first song, they played a medley of four songs so that really help extend my time in the photo pit for the first three songs. Once again I made my way to the balcony and enjoyed the rest of their ninety minute set spanning their entire career. While we agreed after the show we each had hoped for a few deeper cuts, the band still played many of the favorites of my youth so it was a walk down memory lane taking me back to my teenage musical formative years in the mid-80s. Props go to the sound guys as the band sounded absolutely spot on and when the controversial Animal (F*ck Like a Beast) started the encore I though the crowd was going to explode with excitement, I would say a good percentage of the people in attendance that was the song they came to hear and by the fan reaction we sure did not want the band to have to finally end their set.

The drive home was of course filled with musical banter that centered on how the show was absolutely phenomenal and our excitement that Lord Nikon and I still have the Chicago show to see next week. It was an eleven hour adventure from the time The Foz and I left my house until we returned and I enjoyed every minute of the adventure hanging with great friends and seeing a band I had always wanted to see in a venue I had never been to before. The tour continues in the United States until mid-December and then continues on in the U.K. and Europe starting in March of 2023.  I absolutely cannot stress enough for you to see this tour if possible, so get your ticket today and go see these musical shock rock legends. Show the promoters that there is in fact a strong following for this and hopefully future W.A.S.P. tours, and witness a kick as night of rock n roll.

Tickets are available here:

W.A.S.P. setlist – November 26, 2022 – The Plaza Live, Orlando, FL:

On Your Knees / The Flame / The Torture Never Stops / Inside the Electric Circus
L.O.V.E. Machine
Wild Child
The Idol
The Great Misconceptions of Me
Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)
Blind in Texas

Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)
The Real Me (The Who cover)
I Wanna Be Somebody