Live at The Well on Sunday, 6th November 2011
"I heard people in Leeds like: filthy, dirty, sleazy, slimy, disgusting, mildewy heavy metal!" The inimitable Chris Jericho knows how to work a crowd, and judging the reaction to his sublimely hyperbolized declaration, the packed house at The Well is prime for Fozzy's first ever performance in Leeds. For a cold Sunday night in November the turnout is impressive to say the least; it would be no exaggeration to suggest the maximum capacity of 375 will be severely tested in the modest settings of The Well's gig room.
First up are Glaswegian metal band Senzafine, whose blend of groove heavy riffs with up-tempo verses, quickly seizes the allegiance of the crowd. The highlight of the set from young three-piece comes with the closer: "Prevalence". With an intro dangerously similar to Chimaira's "Pure Hatred"; complete with rolling kick pedals and syncopated tom fills. The song quickly changes course to resemble a Superjoint Ritual jam and is admirably complemented by front man Graeme Humphrey's vocal style; certainly influenced by Life of Agony's Keith Caputo. The band's passion and energy serves as the perfect appetiser for the night's festivities.
Verses are next to take the stage, and immediately singer Jason Danzelman concedes: "We're a little different from the other bands on this tour". The Brighton based quintet does seem out of their element here, and would have been more at home opening for the likes of Alexisonfire or Deaf Havana. As a rapidly emptying room would suggest, the group's offering of major key-soft rock with offensively clean vocals is the perfect time to take a trip to the bar.
At this point, any aspiring bands in attendance should take out their notepads and prepare for enrolment in "Rock Concerts 101". JettBlack hit the stage with all the fervour and enthusiasm of a band supremely confident in their act... and what an act they deliver. Boasting a plethora of catchy riffs, pumping verses, memorable hooks, infallible lead guitar work and more sing-along choruses than a Sunday morning church service, JettBlack lead the audience on a 120mph joyride down the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Opener "Slip on it" kicks in with sublime austerity and ignites the atmosphere like a guerrilla Molotov cocktail. The first time I was introduced to JettBlack was last year in an opening slot for legendary 80's metal band WASP; that night they blew the aging rocker's off the stage, and tonight they seem to be threatening to do the same. As the High Wycombe natives unleash the insanely addictive "Two Hot Girls", evoking the ambience of the main stage at Donnington on a hot summer's afternoon; one could be forgiven for entering a dissociative state. Finally, the George Lynch inspired lead work of Jon Dow and epic guitar duel between Dow and Will Stapleton in "Get Your Hands Dirty", brings to a close the most enjoyable half-hour of live music anyone could wish for.
Not perturbed by the show-stopping performance they have just witnessed, it is clear there is only one man the jam-packed patrons of The Well are here to see. A thunderous "Y2J" chant erupts as the lights dim, and when Rich Ward takes to the stage with the rest of Fozzy, the open bars of "Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13th)" commence, elevating the crowd's furor to a critical limit. The furor rapidly develops into delirium as Chris Jericho arrives to join the band, with all his trademark energy and unmatched magnetism. Next up is an imposing cover of Krokus', "Eat the Rich" which provides the first mass sing-along of the evening; followed by the malevolently heavy "Grail", which provokes the ubiquitous heavy-metal: "Hey, Hey, Hey" chant from the audience. Old favourites, "With the Fire" and "To Kill a Stranger" sound simply immense and incite a sea of head banging with their chug laden riffs. The charismatic Jericho truly has the crowd in the palm of his hand and upon his command, the pile-driving force of "Feel the Burn" transforms the sea of humanity, into one huge buoyant mass. The evening's festivities are suitably brought to a close with the harmonious "Enemy" and the onetime: half cover-band, half comedy act, leaves the stage to an ovation befitting any (as Chris Jericho would say...) "huge rock stars".