I’d definitely say that the Ritz is one of the better venues in Manchester. The sound quality in there is always fairly decent and it is a stone’s throw away from the train station, so I was very happy when I found out that Lordi would be making a stop there on their European tour for their new album, To Beast Or Not To Beast.
Openers Hostile (6/10) got off to a bit of a shaky start. Not fully connecting with the audience, it also didn’t help that their songs weren’t the most original out there and all sounded a little similar to one another. They only really came into their own when they were nearing the end of their set, when they played a cover of Breaking The Law. With the crowd finally getting a little more involved and singing along, this seemed to give them the confidence they needed and they stormed through the last few songs of their set with a lot more gusto and enthusiasm. A particular highlight was the song “I Don’t Give A F*ck”, which a large amount of the crowd got behind, screaming the title line back at them when prompted. A fairly decent live band, but it’s a shame they only seemed to peak at the end of their set.
Following them was Kaledon (8/10), who were a lot more involved and had a great stage presence. As soon as they got onstage, they instantly made it their task to get as much crowd participation as they could and it really enhanced their performance as a result. You can’t ask for anything more from a support act Vocalist Marco was a fantastic and energetic frontman, at one point jokingly wrapping his arm round guitarist Alex’s leg and singing into the microphone that way! The whole band was just in sync with one another and they gave an overall tight performance, albeit suffering a little from them playing to a backing track due to their keyboardist not coming on tour with them. Overall, it was a great performance and it was a pleasure to watch the five-piece doing what they love best.
Of course, it was Lordi (9/10) that everyone was there for. Arriving onstage ten minutes after their scheduled slot should have started, it was somewhat of a lacklustre entrance. As the song God Of Thunder by Kiss filled the venue and the lights went out, everyone was cheering and clapping, but as the song progressed and nothing really happened, enthusiasm damped a little until we were all just stood there in the dark for several minutes as the novelty wore out, waiting for them to finally get onstage.
After a “proper” intro of SCG6: Otus’ Butcher Clinic, the night fully got underway with We’re Not Bad For The Kids (We’re Worse). Honestly, this band needs to be seen live to be fully appreciated, as their monster costumes look all the more impressive when you’re up close and personal to them – you can really take in the sheer amount of work and effort that has gone into their stunning costumes. They’re more than just masks, they’re full-body costumes and to wear them for an entire set onstage takes a lot of stamina! I was particularly impressed with the energy shown by guitarist Amen, who quite frequently duck-walked across the stage!
Who’s Your Daddy was the song that truly saw the band coming into their own. After an amusing introduction from enigmatic (and utterly hilarious) frontman Mr Lordi, who got confused about whether it was Wednesday or Thursday, the song truly got underway with the crowd enthusiastically singing along before Mr Lordi held up a smoke machine gun and blew it over the audience. It was certainly a sight to behold and it didn’t stop there, as afterwards it featured bassist Ox “killing” one of the band’s crew.
Following this was the popular song Blood Red Sandman, which featured Mr Lordi coming out in a nightcap and throwing confetti “sand” onto the crowd. Going from strength to strength, it was then time for keyboardist Hella to show off, with a humorous little link between songs of her playing her keyboard, “breaking” and then getting her head removed so that she could be fixed! Another visual I thought was particularly stunning was when fake snow was blown out onto the audience during It Snows In Hell.
One of the highlights of their set was the song I’m The Best. It was introduced with a perfect speech from Mr Lordi, with him talking about how you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you that you’re useless, not good enough or need to change in any way, and that we’re all the best. He then proceeded to be crowned with a sparkly princess tiara and was given a rose as the song began, and certificates saying he was “the best” (and signed by all members of the band) were stuck on him at random intervals, which were duly thrown out into the crowd, before the song ended with him lifting up a mini toy Oscar statue into the air. It was amusing to see a massive monster with a girly little crown perched atop his head, to say the least!
Of course, it was the final songs that went down the best. Devil Is A Loser featured Mr Lordi growing ginormous wings and this song was followed by the song that they won the Eurovision Song Contest with, Hard Rock Hallelujah. Afterwards, Mr Lordi asked the crowd if they wanted so more, and after their enthusiastic response, he just grinned and said we’d passed the test. Sincerely With Love, the penultimate track, was another crowd-pleaser as the repetitive lyrics of “f*ck you asshole” quickly resonated throughout the venue as people chose to associate them with people that they maybe weren’t too fond of.
They closed with what was the best song of the night, Would You Love A Monsterman. As this was the first song I heard by them, it’s quite special to me and it was interesting to hear the slightly different twist that the newer members of the band gave the song. The room came alive as everyone sang along to it and it finished with Mr Lordi shooting confetti into the crowd from a toy doll similar to the one that featured in the accompanying video for it.
Lordi are quite simply a band that needs to be seen to be believed and it was a visually stunning night accompanied by some absolute belters of songs. I only wish they’d come onstage at the scheduled time so that they’d been able to play Hulking Dynamo!