Fozzy delivers an afternoon show filled with solid hard rock tunes, WrestlemaniaLisa Martineau
NewHampshire.com April 10. 2018 6:13AM
The Fozzy show at Wally's Pub in Hampton Beach Sunday was probably the most entertaining show we've seen in months. The drinks were flowing. The atmosphere was charged. The pub was packed. And the music? The music was good, a fresh dose of hard rock/heavy metal that is current, heavy and thrashy enough at times to generate some head banging by fans. However, no one was head banging harder than the band and just when you thought you'd seen them do everything you've never seen at a rock show, Billy Grey would stand in some unusual position while playing guitar vertically or Paul Di Leo would do a near split, without missing a beat or a bass line. These guys - every one of them - added to the positive energy of the show.
Gymnastics aside, the five musicians who make up the band Fozzy do know how to put on a show. Each of them took it to another level, but it was Chris Jericho - the WWE wrestler and singer/front man of Fozzy - who stole the show. He had some tough competition from his band of brothers though. All of the other band members - Rich Ward (lead guitar), Frank Fontsere (drums), Paul Di Leo (bass) and Billy Grey (guitar) - were equally animated on stage. It was Jericho though, who fans came to see, and if that was not clear from the start, it was certainly clear by the end of their set, when Wally's pulled down a big screen so the crowd could watch Wrestlemania and most of the audience stuck around to watch it with the band.
Before the band took the stage, the ominous sounds of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" was played over the speakers. It announced the band's arrival and made it clear what kind of band was about to take the stage. Fozzy was influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Dio and Metallica, a band whose name Jericho mentioned at some point during the show. In fact, Fozzy's first two albums featured covers of music from bands like Dio, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and the Scorpions. A third album, All That Remains, featured several guest appearances including Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Myles Kennedy (Slash, Alter Bridge), Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge) and Marty Friedman (Megadeth).
There have been four additional albums since 2009. Most were not heard on radio much less running up any charts. But that began to change with their 2014 Album, Do You Wanna Start a War, which featured "Lights Go Out," a song that reached number 29 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. For every band there is always a beginning, and for Fozzy, this was the beginning of their beginning. Sometimes a wave takes time to roll along before it breaks. For Fozzy, it's been onward and upward since their latest album, Judas, was released in late 2017. With the release of their first single off the album, the title-track, "Judas," the band began to see some chart-action. "Judas" peaked at #5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts, and quickly went to #1 on the iTunes Metal Charts.
At Wally's on Sunday, the band opened with "Judas" and the crowd sang along. Fozzy followed that with another single off the Judas album, "Drinking with Jesus." Of the two, it's "Judas" that this music fan is still hearing in her head, so it's catchy. "Drinking with Jesus" has a bit more of an anthem vibe to it. Two other songs were played from the new album, the third single, "Painless," and "Burn Me Out." Both "Lights Go Out" and "S.O.S.," an ABBA cover done Fozzy-style, were also on the set list along with a handful of their earlier songs, notably "Bad Tattoo" and "Sin and Bones." Do not be mistaken, this is whiskey drinking music and the band was there to serve up some entertainment.
Dry ice hissed on both sides of the riser whenever Chris stood on it to belt out a track, which he did often throughout the show. During one song, Jericho grabbed a dry ice "hose" and sprayed it upward in the direction of the crowd making it look like he was spraying water. We ducked for cover, but realized the joke was on us. And we almost missed the shot. Almost.
The band - much to our surprise and bewilderment - also brought us up on the stage during a song. Chris took my hand and pulled me across the stage, turned his back on the audience and gave us a mini show, motioning with his hand, click-click, directing us to take pictures of them with the crowd as a backdrop. Then he sang to us, the crowd cheering behind them. This is one band who doesn't mind having their photo taken and each band member has plenty of stage presence to pull off the perfect shot at any time. The most serious of them all was probably the lead guitarist Rich Ward, but even he had his moments; like most guitarists, his were in the form of facial expressions.
Jericho had a few rebel rock star moments during the show. Coming on stage in a lighted jacket was not one of them. By lighted jacket, we mean a jacket that runs on batteries. It may have pleased WWE fans, but rock and roll fans take their music and their bands seriously. You better know who you are or the fans will see right through you.
With that in mind, there were other moments that stood out. Chris Jericho played the role of rebel rock star at the end of the show.
Instead of leaving the stage before an encore, Fozzy just performed their last song. Jericho laughed about the pomp and circumstance of the encore, where the band leaves the stage and waits in some backroom before coming back out for a song or two. They ditched that entirely and reenacted it instead by asking the crowd to do their part by chanting, clamping and stomping on the floor to make noise - then, they waited a moment - before ripping into "Sandpaper," their last "final" song of the night on the final night of their "Judas Rising tour."
There was not a "slow" song on the set list. No lighters raised. That's just the way Fozzy rolls. And rocks.
Following their performance, Wally's pulled a screen down in front of the stage so the fans could watch Wrestlemania, right along with the band, until the final Smackdown.