April 10, 2023

With bright blue skies and warm Easter sunshine, it feels strange to be heading for more ghoulish goings on but the Duke Of Spook himself, Wednesday13 is in town and every night is Halloween so thoughts of bunnies and gorging on chocolate are swept away by pumpkins and whatever may go bump in the night. Tonight’s show at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms – the first for four years – is completely sold out which as Wednesday himself reflects he has never done before despite previous visits to the venue which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Upon entering Rescue Rooms, sunshine is left behind, a graveyard mist descends and it is a sea of black and pale faced attendees – with some taking it beyond and there is an actual Wednesday Addams in the audience.

The doors may be a ridiculously early 5.30pm but with a four band bill there is a lot to cram in and as the crowd meanders in or gets stuck in the merch queue, opening act Tarah Who? is already onstage. The grunge-punk duo led by firebrand Tarah G. Carpenter on guitar and vocals certainly do not pull any punches with the kick to the throat explosive rock ‘n’ roll and much to the delight of those already grabbing onto the barrier.

The signing of Italy’s Sick N’ Beautiful to Frontiers is something that will certainly raise their profile even if the band is something of a stylistic curveball for the label but with the excellent latest album Starstruck, being on the road and in front of faces is what this band needs. It is clear that the name is not familiar to a lot of the crowd as there are genuine gasps as the band enter the stage – Sick N’ Beautiful is a visually arresting sight to say the least. Known to include pyro and angle grinders in their shows, safety reasons prevented the full production but what the Italians brought was only part of the box of tricks then the full production must be insane.

With a short set time, Sick N’ Beautiful does pack plenty in but opening song Starstruck is patchy on the vocals which sounds like a technical hitch with the cheek mic. Vocalist Herma is a real pro and continues regardless as the band tears through the industrial like landscape of Tonight We Go To War. By God Of Thunder the sound does improve and while the whole band crouches at the front of the stage, lasers shoot from Herma’s hands. Concentrating on songs from the new album, Drop It To The B brings the element of fun from the band’s previous two albums.

There is a ‘costume’ change that sees Herma in a cloak and mask with a book that spontaneously combusts in her hands. With Deep End Dark and Angels Be Fallin’  – the latter with a wine glass shattering high note at the end – also from the new album, Sick N’ Beautiful put a lot of effort to showcase what they can do. This band has a passion and a real vision, give them a full production and the results could be earth shattering.

Bournemouth crew South Of Salem is another band that is on the way up the ladder and on the back of their performance tonight, great things await. If the hi-tops and bassist Dee Aldwell channelling his inner Nikki Sixx did not already give it away, South Of Salem is inspired by the 1980s with a contemporary edge and horror twist that is totally relatable to the headliner’s audience. It was clear from the off that the Salem boys wanted to make an impression and they may have been more stripped down visually than Sick N’ Beautiful but there is boundless energy on the stage and all this after supporting W.A.S.P. on their recent tour of the UK.  

It is vocalist Joey who constantly comes to the front of the stage to generate the audience participation (and once in front of the barrier) but the whole band exudes confidence along with genuine camaraderie. The set is culled from the 2020 album  The Sinner Takes It All, there is lush bass lines from Aldwell on No Plague Like Home, the punk-y No Plague Like Home rockets along while A Cold Day In Hell has some real crunch to the guitars. With an earthy sound, South Of Salem know what they are gunning for and despite the love/hate relationship that there can be with the 1980s, this band taps into what made the decade great while giving it a 21st century spit and polish.

With the Rescue Rooms now packed to capacity, the air disappears from the room when the Wednesday13 and his band of (un)merry men arrives on the stage and grave dives straight into Blood Sucker. As the drums and bass kicks Wednesday offers a beckoning finger before that initial scream, dry ice fills the stage and the foundations actually shake. The crunch of the guitar on Scream Baby Scream is immense and guitarist Ramon Surman grins like he knows it as he rips into the solo section. The stage is tiny and Wednesday13 certainly fills it but there is little movement as such, Jack Tankersley jumps onto the raise platform often, bassist Troy Doebbler is very workman like on his instrument raising his head to sing backing while Surman is afforded the most space. Wednesday himself is firmly in the middle and occasionally moves to the front of the stage but even stood in the middle, it is still mesmerising to watch him as he swings his mic stand over each shoulder in time to the drums

Look What The Bats Dragged In and My Home Sweet Homicide rocket along, the former gets the crowd punching their fists with the ‘oi! oi!’ while Get Your Grave On has more of a groove-grind to it with Wednesday encouraging audience participation. With an ever growing catalogue and new album Horrifier only out in January 2023, it must be something of a nightmare putting a set together, playing the hits and spanning that catalogue while squeezing in new tracks as well. In that regard, the set is impressively balanced as Wednesday13 traverses that expansive career without drawing breath but I Want You….Dead from 2005’s Transylvania 90210 sounds as fresh as new track It’s A Good Day To Be A Bad Guy from the new album.

There is a further requirement for participation with Wednesday13 asking the crowd not to be pussies – although with the raised voices there appears to be none – for From Here To The Hearse. The other brand new track aired from the new album Insides Out is something of a dirge, a funeral stomp that has Surman putting his guitar through its paces whereas sole track from previous album Necrophaze has serious bounce to it. New drummer Mike Duffy gets his own solo spot and while drum solos can be a bit of a bore, not many are set to the unmistakable theme tunes of The Exorcist or Halloween which makes the solo worth its weight in horrific gold. When the band returns, Wednesday13 has a flashlight and brings the thunder for Keep Watching The Skies.

Wednesday then takes a minute to relate to the fact that tonight is sold out and that he started coming to the UK 21 years ago but that he had never been to the UK before until his buddy and fellow Murderdoll Joey Jordinson had brought him. At this point, the entire crowd erupts into chanting “Joey!” over and over. For a brief moment, Wednesday tips his Stetson-ed head, raises it again and says “this is for him” and blasts into Nowhere from Murderdolls second album Women And Children Last. Turning back the clock again to before Wednesday was a Murderdoll and the fact that he was a Frankenstein Drag Queen from Planet 13 and Die My Bride is both grizzled and exhilarating.

The wait for the encore is mercilessly short before I Walk With A Zombie singalong, the mid-way clapping replaced by arm waving while What The Night Brings is scales the pace down. What is remarkable though is there are some times that anyone could forgive the odd bit of a backing track but nope, Ramon Surman rips those theremin-like sounds from his guitar. “Don’t take this personally Nottingham but I only wish you…” and the lyrical genius and ode to not liking someone very much in Bad Things. Ending the only way that a Wednesday13 show could end and brandishing his famous extended middle finger umbrella is the sweary, riotous beauty of I Love To Say Fuck.

Wednesday13 does not do bad shows but tonight and second night of a UK tour, this band is on fire and with a perfect pacing of the set and an immense sound, the entire performance was nothing short of faultless. Wednesday13 may be the bastard son of Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie but he has plowed his own creative furrow releasing solid albums but when it comes to the stage, Wednesday13 is the ringmaster of the spookshow and long may it continue.

Horrifier is out now on Napalm Records. Wednesday 13 is on tour across the UK