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The Marquee, London, England

January 7th, 1986

Criss Oliva

Florida’s metal merchants took time off from recording their latest album in London to play this one-off gig at the Marquee. In fact, this show was arranged so late that I doubt if there were too many people outside the London area who could have known about it. But Savatage still drew a sizeable crowd and delivered a storming performance.

‘City Beneath The Surface’ heralded the band’s entrance and opened the show in a menacing style, before powering into the excellent ‘Midas Night’. Immediately, Jon Oliva won over the audience with his dominating stage presence and superb vocals. If you thought this guy was good on record then believe me he kills live, venturing into dimensions that a majority of heavy metal vocalists can only dream about.

Savatage are far from a one man band; Jon’s brother Criss on guitar put on an exciting display of guitar wizardry, while drummer Steve “Dr. Killdrums” Wacholz and new bassist Johnny Lee Middleton provided the driving rhythm as the band ripped through all the choice cuts from their vinyl released to date, plus a new song, ‘Hyde’, before concluding with a superb medley of ‘Sirens’ / ‘The Dungeons Are Calling’.

The band came back for three encores: ‘Power Of The Night’ – the title and best track from an otherwise disappointing third album, ‘She’s Only Rock’N’Roll’ – an almost cringeable commercial number from Savatage’s forthcoming album Fight For The Rock, and a pounding version of the old Samson song, ‘Earth Mother’. Bruce Dickinson never showed up, as the band had promised prior to the gig, but who needs Dickinson when you have the powerful Jon Oliva?

Unfortunately, gigs like this are few and far between in the UK, but hopefully it won’t be too long before Savatage return to these shores for an extensive tour. If they do, don’t miss ’em.

Bernard Doe

Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 16 (1986)

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