The long history of Anvil has been well documented. Formed in Toronto, Ontario, they were on the forefront of a heavy metal explosion in the early eighties but their star never quite reached the heights that so many predicted.
The 2008 documentary film, ‘Anvil! The Story Of Anvil,’ directed by screenwriter and former Anvil roadie, Sacha Gervasi, gave fans a very personal look inside of the Anvil machine. The focus was on founding members Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner and the emotional roller coaster they have endured while pursuing their dreams. They somehow have persevered through four decades and now are seventeen albums into their career. Staying true to the title of their last album, ‘Pounding The Pavement,’ they continue to tour and play to a very loyal fan base, like the fans that filled The Turf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Starting the night was a band out of Santa Cruz, California called Archer Nation. They are a hard-hitting three piece that are supporting a new album called ‘Beneath The Dream’ that was released in 2019. Dylan Rose handled the guitar riffing and vocals, David DeSilva was on bass, and Keyhan Moini was behind the kit. These guys were a throwback to fist pumping, headbanging days of eighties. The pace was breakneck, the riffs abundant, and solos with enough notes that you could fill your pockets with the leftovers and take them home as souvenirs. They worked hard to win over a reluctant crowd but by the time they played their last song, “I Am The Dawn,” many of those folks had made their way to the stage and got involved into the show.
Comedian Don Jamieson provided a lot of laughs before Anvil went. He is well known for his stint on ‘That Metal Show’ on VH1 Classic and has toured around the country delivering his style of humor on everyday life that is overlooked by so many of us. His sarcasm cuts deep and the crowd had a great time listening to him.
The mighty Anvil would close the show. Steve “Lips” Kudlow began the show standing in front the stage with his guitar and spoke through the pic-ups and introduced the band before cranking into “March Of The Crabs.” The crowd quickly engulfed him as cell phones were drawn snapping pictures and video. The rest of the band, drummer Robb Reiner and bassist Chris Robertson, completed the opening thunder as the trio launched into a terrific set. It was a great moment and something I’ve never seen before. With Kudlow now on the stage they blasted through “666” and “Ooh Baby.” Robertson got his moment to shine with a bass solo leading into “Winged Assassins” and he ignited the crowd through his energy as he leapt up and down while hammering on his bass. Lips has an infectious personality and he sucked everybody in with his stories, especially when talking about Lemmy. The band dedicated the song “Free As The Wind” to him. Certainly, one the most associated visuals of Anvil is Lips playing his guitar with a vibrator. We got that anticipated moment with fans cheering wildly as he pulled it out during the song “Monthra.” The song “Swing Thing” provided Rob the opportunity to solo and fans went equally wild during it. The rhythm section of the band, Reiner and Robertson, was impressive. The duo was extremely tight and you could feel it pulse though your body as they played. The iconic classic anthem “Metal On Metal,” roared the set to a close and fans ate up every second of that song.
Rock concerts come in all sorts of packages. Some have the stage props and ramps, some have massive screens behind them blasting out images as the band plays. Some bands have too many lights while others have almost none. No matter what the physical environment is, the success of a concert always comes down to the connection between the band and the fans. That’s the very root of metal music and without it you have nothing. The biggest takeaway from the evening was how genuine the feeling Anvil had for their fans and those feelings were returned in spades from the crowd there to see them. You can’t help but appreciate the passion and drive they continue to have night after night, year after year.
The Turf Club was treated to a great night of music and comedic humor. Archer Nation provided an adrenaline shot of a classic metal vibe mixed with a modern feel and Don Jamieson kept the atmosphere vibrant and fun. In the simplest explanation, Anvil was simply Anvil. They were hard hitting, energetic, humorous, and genuine. The legacy and history of the band is permanently intertwined within the folklore of metal music. The road they have traveled has never been easy but every person in the club got exactly what they were looking for…”Metal On Metal.” It’s not just a song but words to live by.