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Q and a Chris Holmes
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Kaine support to Chris Holmes
florian lagoutte
Chris holmes q and a
chuck lambert

It was a special occasion tonight and it was lovely to see Holmes have a great birthday.

Northampton: The Black Prince – 23 June 2023

It was a privilege to be invited to this special event on Chris Holmes 65th birthday including a party with cake and nibbles and a Q and A, as well as the gig. It was an eye opener to watch and be able to hear the way Chris is with people: he is really engaging and has a great friendly manner with those he has just met. He seems to genuinely enjoy meeting new people and really appreciates fans. He told me that being on the ship for five days with all the Cruisers on MORC was one of the best times of his life and he couldn’t wait to get back. So having a party with fans (he was drinking Pepsi Max now he is tee-total) seemed exactly what he wanted to do on his special birthday.

In the Q and A he started off by saying he thought music should always be live, warts and all, with no backing tapes and he had always opposed the using of tapes in W.A.S.P.. He declared he would never use “sampling” and he knew his live performance could be “on and off, but that’s the way it is”… “if you have a bum note that’s Rock ‘n’ Roll”. He recalled that Blackie used to tell him to write solos in advance, but had never done so and always improvised, as Hendrix used to. Once he was told to write five solos for each song, but when he got to the recording session and was asked for them exclaimed “man I knew there was something I forgot!”. When he was asked if he was ever invited to join any other band he said he was asked to join LA Guns when Tracii Guns wasn’t going to play, but the tour folded when the London Quireboys wouldn’t do the tour without Tracii, but he added that it was OK with him, as he felt he didn’t quite fit in, because of the way he plays. He named his favourite W.A.S.P. songs as ‘Wild Child’ and ‘Animal’ which he said would always appear in his set and his favourite W.A.S.P. line up as Johnny Rod and Frankie Banali, saying that the ‘Headless Children’ era was the only one he liked. He giggled that he had to borrow the first W.A.S.P. album to learn the songs again when he was asked to re-join the band, since he never listens to W.A.S.P. stuff off tour which would drive him crazy. As a last question when he was asked what he had learned he said “Don’t Trust Anyone”, although quickly added that he did trust his wife.

Kaine, the support band, were a good quality English Metal band from Essex, sometimes sounding like Maiden, sometimes Slayer. When they did do a song they described as “the closest we get to a ballad” I thought they were at their best when they were heavier. There were some super old school solos and shredding and the singer had a good outgoing personality and made an effort to engage the crowd.

When the Mean Men take the stage it is with guitarist Florian Lagoutte and bassist Chuck Lambert, as Holmes has two teams depending on availability, territory etc. Lagoutte is a fantastic guitar player and is great at working the crowd. Overall the band sound great. Being totally sober and recovered from throat cancer, Holmes is completely on the ball and sings a lot of material himself. When he sings his solo material like ‘Devil Made Me Do It’ and ‘Born Work Die’ you can see him get really expressive with the vocals, because they are his words and you can see they are written from the heart.
I think singer of the other team Ollie Tindall sounds a bit more like Blackie than Lambert does when he sings - that may not be what Holmes is going for, of course, given there is no love lost there these days. But it’s a high energy Metal gig and the band work hard to make sure the pace never drops for a second.
Before launching into ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ Holmes jokes that it is a song from before most of the crowd were born “when dinosaurs walked the earth”. However, the warmth with which the W.A.S.P. classics are received shows that the crowd is totally with the band and are thirsty to hear their favourite songs.
‘Sleeping (In The Fire)’ truly is an epic with Lagoutte and Holmes sharing the solos and is a jewel in the set, increasing the intensity of the atmosphere in the crowd. By ‘Blind In Texas’ and ‘Animal’ the band are really letting loose: Chris is feeling and reflecting the energy of the crowd and is really enjoying the fact that the gig has gone well, really without a hitch.
With the main business done the band enjoy the groove of a few cover versions ‘Born To Be Wild’, ‘Fortunate Son’ and ‘Rockin In The Free World’, during which Chris gets a cake on stage from his wife Cathy-Sarah for his birthday and he whoops and throws his Stetson high in the air when he managed to blow out all the candles with one huge puff. They finished with ‘Highway To Hell’, taking a volunteer from the crowd to increase the local connection with tonight’s show.
It was a special occasion tonight and it was lovely to see Holmes have a great birthday. Holmes is probably more surprised than anyone given his hellraising days that he has made it to 65. It is clear he has managed to get a set up that suits him, makes him feel like he is doing music for the right reasons and where he feels loved and appreciated. They say “The love you take is equal to the love you make” and tonight I could see that at work.

Dawn Osborne

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