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Anvil - The Academy Green Room, Dublin (Ireland) - 14 February 2018

On the most romantic night of the year, a few hundred brave Dublin men took their lives in their hands by exchanging whispering sweet nothings in their loved one's ears for a session of 100%-proof Heavy Metal. Ironically, just a few hundred yards south of the River Liffey, Whitefriar Street Church contains some remains of St Valentine and a shrine in his honour. However, this rowdy gathering of Irish head-bangers were only interested in worshipping at the altar of Canadian Metal pioneers Anvil.

1983 was the last time Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner played a tune in Ireland, but sadly since then their career never properly turned the corner. The 2008 movie 'Anvil! – The Story Of Anvil' put the band back in the game and gained them a new army of fans, but while bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth (who have credited them as a major influence) are bursting arenas, Anvil are still pretty much slogging their guts out in any place that will have them; playing The Academy Green Room in Dublin far from represents swelling success as it's one of the worst venues in the country. With a crappy sized stage, horrendous in-house lighting, low ceiling and annoying pillars, you wouldn't be alone in thinking that Anvil deserve better. However, this Irish crowd have been waiting a long time for this band's return to these shores and I'm sure would've happily paid to see them play in a rat-filled sewer.

After a seriously low-key entrance, Kudlow and his Flying V made their way straight to the heart of the crowd for a tone-setting 'March Of The Crabs'. As expected, the legendary front-man was quickly surrounded by smartphone-wielding fans determined to capture this memorable moment. After getting mauled as hebattled his way back to the stage, the always chilling '666' got the brain-shaking fest off to a pummelling start. Although Kudlow did look like he was rightly in the mood, he did admit to the crowd that he was "sick as a fuckin' dog", and being an out-and-out pro, he vowed to give everything he had. He made true on his word with a full-blooded thump of 1981's 'Oooh Baby' which gave the more mature members of the audience a real nostalgic jab.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'Badass Rock 'N' Roll' did exactly what it said on the tin and got the atmosphere properly ramped up. The night did take a slight sombre twist as tributes were paid to two massive influential figures in Heavy Metal. 'Free As The Wind' was dedicated to Motörhead's Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, a man who had a very close association to Anvil having tried to hire Kudlow to replace "Fast" Eddie Clarke, while the two bands were also on the same bill in Dalymount Park in Dublin back in 1983. 'This Is Thirteen' was inevitably for Chris Tsangarides, the man who produced the album and, of course, 1982's iconic 'Metal On Metal'. The mention of both names raised the roof and the songs were executed with an extra bit of gusto.

With their seventeenth studio album 'Pounding The Pavement' fresh out of the traps, new tune 'Bitch In The Box' fared well with the Anvil faithful, but no doubt the majority were in attendance to hear the classics. 'Mothra' brought the night back to familiar ground as Kudlow whipped out his trusted dildo for a masterclass in guitar solo innovation. Robb Reiner had his moment in the spotlight too with a thunderous drum solo during 'Swing Thing' which no doubt tested the foundations of the building. Closing out the main set was the biggest hardcore Metal anthem of them all, the titanic Metal On Metal'. Pints and fists were raised, then a succession of crowd surfers were passed along by the safe hands of the denim and leather fraternity. Closing track and encore was a menacing cover of Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild' which brought the curtain down in all-conquering style.

While some of the crowd headed home to a potential frosty reception from their Valentine's Day abandoned partners, Anvil left Dublin completely loved up; who said romance was dead.

Brian Boyle

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