Fozzy - LIVE: The Ruby Lounge, Manchester 2015

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Cinderblock Party Tour
March 9 (21:55 - 23:10)
Capacity 350

Even though Fozzy are a band who love to tour the UK as often as possible, it's actually been some time since they've had a headline run of any kind in Europe, after spending all of 2014 in the US aside from a one-off appearance at Download Festival. Indeed the last time they headlined 'A' markets (like London and Manchester) was the Summer of 2011, having to settle for co-headlines (i.e. shorter sets) and support slots in the meantime, while 'B' markets not included in those tours got runs in late 2011 and Summer 2013.

Manchester specifically last saw Fozzy in any capacity on a co-headline trek with Drowning Pool in April 2013, which makes the modest crowd in The Ruby Lounge, not a big place to start with, slightly surprising. Maybe a lot of fans who would otherwise have seen the band knew what a poor venue it is, because despite Fozzy's best efforts, this ended up being a very poor show.

After support sets from locals Malrun and touring partners The Dirty Youth (who got their biggest cheer for their comedic butchering of Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name by replacing the most difficult vocal part with the chorus of Will Smith's Boom! Shake The Room) Fozzy eventually took the stage at 21:55, not really leaving themselves much room for a full headlining set. Front-man and natural showman Chris Jericho, currently using a jacket covered in small lights for his stage entrance (fans of his professional wrestling days will recognise it), kept the talking to a minimum in order to fit all of their songs in, and tried his best to move around and interact with both the crowd and the rest of the band, despite the small stage and ceiling so low he couldn't raise his hands fully above his head while standing on a monitor without hitting it.

The setlist is also far too heavily weighted in favour of their weaker recent albums Sin And Bones and Do You Wanna Start A War (a contrast never starker then when To Kill A Stranger from second album Happenstance followed the radio-ready Tonight). Of the 15 tracks played, 11 came from those two records alone, so the combination of that, and the short set time of 75 minutes meant no room for many of their stronger songs like With The Fire, Nameless Faceless, End of Days, and their finest hour Martyr No More. They weren't doing themselves any favours on that score, but they are a consummate, consistent live band and with the addition of Stuck Mojo bassist Corey Lowery, on stage in the UK on this tour alongside guitarist Rich Ward and drummer Frank Fontsere for the first time in 17 years, the sheer fun the band has on stage is obvious for all to see. Ward is unstoppably lively on stage, even small ones, and guitar partner Billy Grey tries to match him at every turn.

Their efforts though were largely in vain. The Ruby Lounge is far more suited to being a club than it is a live music venue. The S-shaped room has the stage at one end, so half of the venue can't even seen it anyway, especially with all the pillars in the way, and predictably for a strangely-shaped space, the sound is appalling. With everything turned up far louder than it needed to be, distortion reigned, while Jericho's vocals were largely buried, and Fontsere's drums all but overpowered all of the guitars from Ward and Grey except during solos (long time fans will be pleased to hear Ward finally has a guitar solo spot).

It's always disappointing when an otherwise great live band, who put on the best show they can, are undone entirely by a terrible venue, and had this been held in a better place, the show would have been superb, despite the biased setlist. Most other shows on the tour won't have the same venue issues, and will be as good as they should be. This should be considered a one-time low.

“ efforts though were largely in vain ”

Setlist: Do You Wanna Start A War / Tonight / To Kill A Stranger / One Crazed Anarchist / Sin And Bones / She's My Addiction / God Pounds His Nails / Died With You / Spider In My Mouth / S.O.S. / Lights Go Out / Enemy / Bad Tattoo // Sandpaper / Eat The Rich

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2015, Gigs, Heavy Metal,

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