The Crown and the Bullring
Man… Discovers Fire.
Man… Invents The Wheel.
Man… Builds The Printing Press.
Man… Creates Electricity.
Man… Splits The Atom.
Man… Lands On The Moon.
Some moments are destined to ring loud throughout the corridors of eternity, like distant echoes from the very birth of our universe. Some moments are so colossal in magnitude as to spin the entire viewpoint of humanity on its axis, forever altering the fundaments of mankind’s consciousness and forcing long-defined principles of thought to be completely changed. Some moments come to define aeons and provide the fables that will be passed on through the millennia by the songs, poetry and art of our children and the children of a thousand generations to come, the stories of which will give rise to a thousand religions. I can say honestly, without the slightest trace of hyperbole, that Manowar’s triumphant return to Britain after 17 years away is undoubtedly the biggest, most sensational moment in the history of the universe, multiplied by ten.
From the moment we were granted entry into the hall of the Immortals (Birmingham O2 Arena) we knew that this was going to be something quite incredible. Behind a mysterious black cloth of steel cotton supported by the gaffer tape of Isengard stood the drum kit forged from the steel of a thousand small motorbikes. Some speculated that the leftover steel was used to create a single much, much bigger motorbike, but this was never clarified. Thousands of fans poured in to the increasingly sweaty battle dome and marvelled in unison around the merchandise stand at the incredible foresight of Manowar, who had used their mystical powers of clairvoyance to look 20 years into the future at the massive devaluation of the pound and set their prices accordingly. And, lo, the faithful saw that it was good and did payeth £35 for a t-shirt.
A mere one hour and 45 minutes after the doors opened, the mighty Manowar emerged as the backdrop of the Kings was unfurled and dutifully set about preaching the merits of metal with all the subtlety and introverted understatement one might expect at a Nuremberg Rally, eliciting the sort of frenzied response not seen since Hitler’s ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hamburgsmith’ farewell tour of ’45. It was an incredible, heartwarming, life-affirming and uplifting feeling to be a part of a gathering of thousands of fanatical, identically-dressed white men chanting “hail” with their hands saluting proudly in the air. Not that there were any similarities to Nuremburg, of course. Instead of listening to the horrendous deluded ramblings of a mad dictator, here each and every person in attendance was left rapt in the cult of personality as the glorious dictator Joey DiMaio’s jaw-dropping, yet madly deluded and rambling bass solo rang, clicked and squeaked beautifully throughout our ears.
Manowar were, as you have probably read in all the newspapers, here to play through their epoch-making debut album, Battle Hymns, and the occasion was rightly greeted with the sort of religious fervour that theologians had thought only possible should Jesus himself return and offer a limited run of tickets for an intimate Q&A interspersed with readings of his dad’s hit book ‘The Bible’. Each song they played from the album seemed to gather momentum: Manowar gave way to an arousing Death Tone, which grew into a firm Fast Taker before a rock hard, twitching Shell Shock took us to the very brink and… Yes… Yeeeessss… the band and crowd literally climaxed at the greatness of Battle Hymn.
For most humans this would signal the glorious ending to a concert, lifetime or galactic empire. Manowar, however, still had time to fire out another 17 songs, 17 of which featured the words ‘Metal’, ‘Kill’ and ‘Steel’, which was enough to be confirmed as a new Guinness World True Metal Record by an oiled, loincloth-clad Norris McWhirter. The Kings Of Metal literally did not pause for the duration of the gig’s entire 135 minutes of steel, propelled relentlessly by an unquenchable thirst for the gift of true metal and fruity leather waistcoats. Sadly this meant we had to miss the intense power of a Joey DiMaio rant, which left a large number of the fans in attendence at a loss as to what direction to now steer their lives, having grown weary of their epic quest to annihilate the Facebook servers through the unlimited power of Manowarism.
By the time a rousing Hail & Kill and Black Wind, Fire and Steel had been thrust violently into our souls, they finished with a superb closing 10 minutes of Feedback arr. for Guitar & Bass. As Joey presented his snapped bass string to a young pleasure slave with a cheeky thrust of his leather posing pouch, it was clear that tonight he would again have no shortage of help saddling his horse as he drinks his last ale. The mighty Eric Adams again redefined the order of the universe by proclaiming that THEY WILL RETURN, and the warm glory of The Crown & The Ring allowed the exhausted warriors – many emotional and overcome with tears – to leave the hall with honour and pride, particularly one young girl clutching a guitar string who was sobbing something about kissing the ring and now being a slave… Not a wife.
Manowar may never return, but the memory of the night will take its rightful place high atop the mountain of human accomplishment, the sheer legacy of majesty being enough to cement their position as the foremost legends of all music forevermore.