Anvil review

Alan McKendree amck at
Wed Jan 27 05:36:19 UTC 2010

Review:  Anvil at Emo's, Austin, January 25, 2010

All in all, a joyful evening of rock and roll.

Caveat:  If you haven't seen the movie ("Anvil The Story of Anvil"),
at least watch the trailer at before
reading the below.  Context is important.  I also recommend reading
the excellent New Yorker review of the movie, at 

I waited out back in a courtyard while the opening act (Broken Teeth)
played.  Lots of roaring into the mike, but enthusiastic enough
audience response.  During intermission I moved up to about 15 feet
from the stage, center.  GA, of course, the place holds maybe 800,
and was quite full from what I could see, with maybe a little white
space around the edges.  Good crowd.

The band was a trio --  Steve "Lips" Kudlow on lead and vocals, Robb
Reiner on drums, and a bassist, Glenn Five I believe -- looked to be
in his early 30s, beefy, shaved hand, beard, later to demonstrate his
headbanging and glaring skills. Lips (may I call him "Lips"?) played
a couple of black flying Vs, drums were ddrums, a double-bass setup,
8 cymbals plus a hi-hat, the bass player had a Gibson 5-string and
later a 12-string by -- um, Ovation? (is that possible?)

Let me say at the outset that my evening was NOT made complete by a
performance of "Slip Kid", but I suppose that was too much to ask
for, especially given the guest vocalist on their cover version.
(It's available on youtube if you haven't already heard it)
 From the moment the band came on, they seemed pleased with the
audience reaction, and it only got better.  Before they even played,
the audience chanted "An-vil!  An-vil!  An-vil!" (yeah, I helped).
Lips (may I call him "Lips"?) said something about being shocked, and
he couldn't stop grinning through much of the show.  On the opening
of the very first song he came down some steps center front and waded
10 feet or so into the thick crowd, playing all the while, winning
the audience over even more, camera flashes going off continually.
Each song was applauded warmly if not wildly, and when another "An-
vil!" chant went up he said "We're only into the third song, and you
guy are already going wild!  You're making my dream come true!".
Later during another round of cheering he said, "Bring up the
lights!  Are there any more lights?  Bring up every light in the
house!"  In a classic Spinal Tap moment, Emo's is such a dive that
there wasn't another single light to be had -- nothing changed at
all :-D.

Lips asked "How many people here have seen the movie?"  More than
half the people ! could see raised their hands.  He said, "So I feel
like you all know me a little bit.  You've been to my house.  My
mom's fine, by the way."  Later: "I'm just an average fan, like you
guys.  I hate it when people act like stars and blow you off [then
referenced being clearly blown off by Tommy Aldridge in the movie].
I'm gonna come out and shake every one of your hands."

I couldn't get many of the song titles, but among them were This is
Thirteen, Mothra, White Rhino (about Lips' particular favorite type
of pot), Thumb Hang, Forged in Fire (referred to as Anvil's anthem,
which contained a lyric "never bend", quite apropos given the band's
history), Metal on Metal (referred to by Lips as the audience's
anthem, with an opportunity to shout along), another wade into the
crowd on the set closer, and as the encore, Jackhammer (complete with
story about its inspiration, a particularly accommodating young lady
he and the bass player at the time encountered in the '80s).  During
"Mothra", in what has apparently become a signature move he picked up
a chromed "marital aid" from his amp and played the guitar with it
like he did in the movie in 1984.

These guys are very good at what they do.  Lips alternated between a
goofy clown prince and a serene Zen master, sailing on his riffs in
both cases. Even at his age (mid-50s) he's in good shape, with a
guitar player's forearms.  Robb worked it out hard on the drums all beats on most songs, not much audience interaction.  It
struck me that JAE would have enjoyed sitting in with these guys for
a couple of numbers...the bass frequently set the fast pace and laid
the sonic foundation for the lead work.  White Rhino was an occasion
for Robb R to give, as Lips said, a "demonstration", a 6-7 minute
drum solo that showed what he'd been doing these last 40 years.
"Practicing" is the answer.

After both the set and the encore (about 1:30 total), the band bathed
in the audience appreciation, obviously enjoying it and, if their
stage banter is to be believed, it was one of the best receptions
they'd had.  As they left the stage, Lips said, "In 5 minutes I'm
going to come out and speak to you all" and, true to his word, after
a modest rest period all three of the band members came out a side
door (in this joint it's all pretty much the same area) and waded
into the crowd who had stuck around, freely taking pictures and
giving autographs.

While it's not my "church" musically, emotionally it's pretty darn
close. I didn't get (or expect) the true ecstatic rush of the best
Who shows, but it was a yellin' good time of genuine enjoyment all
around, both audience and band clearly encouraging each other's
energy.  Having seen the show, I would have been sorry to miss it, if
you can parse that out into sense.  I was happy for them, happy for
me, and proud that Austin could show them some love and, equally
importantly, respect.

Recommended.  But see the movie first if you have doubts, then decide.

Upcoming dates:

Tue 01/26/10 Dallas, TX House Of Blues
Fri 01/29/10 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
Sat 01/30/10 Kansas City, MO The Riot Room
Sun 01/31/10 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre
Tue 02/02/10 Tempe, AZ The Marquee
Wed 02/03/10 San Diego, CA House Of Blues

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