Ross The Boss
Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA
November 24th, 2019
Support: Silent Knight
Ross the Boss. How metal is that? Very fucking metal indeed. Perhaps none more metal. Guitar legend, driving force behind Power Metal, founding member of Manowar and he’s right here in Perth for the very first time. If I and those assembled were any less metal we’d be giddy with excitement seeing Ross and his band.
But first things first. The night kicks off in the best possible way with Perth’s own power metal supremoes, Silent Knight. I’ve seen and reviewed Silent Knight more times than I care to remember but tonight produced something new. With the departure of frontman Jesse Onur Oz the vocal duties have been taken up by Dan Brittain and as the lanky longhair took the stage with the rest of the band he immediately made his presence known with ‘Conquer and Command’. This new guy was doing okay. The half-filled room soon became shoulder to shoulder before things really kicked off with new song ‘Blood In The Water’. Featuring mad guitar solos courtesy of Cameron Nicholas, the axe man’s fingers moved impossibly fast along the fretboard and a rousing chorus was perfect for a little bit of audience participation. There was a palpable lift in the energy of the room. Who doesn’t love a good singalong? The guys were clearly having a great time throughout the set, with the two Camerons and Stu McGill goofing off and having a laugh at the expense of each other. Silent Knight played like they were headliners and from comments I heard they’d gained a few more fans as a result.
“Are you fucking ready?” came the scream from vocalist Marc Lopes. Ross the Boss and Co had arrived. Even though we’d waited decades to see and hear this music live, some of Perth wasn’t quite ready as half the crowd was outside having a ciggy or a chit chat. But the call to arms was heeded and the room filled within seconds. The set kicked off with the title track from 2018’s ‘By Blood Sworn’. There’s no doubt punters knew the song with audience participation at a high. Lopes stalked the stage like he was playing a European festival and not Perth’s Rosemount Hotel, working the crowd from the very first note. In contrast to The Boss, the great man stood his ground and did what he does best – play guitar. There were no rockstar poses, flashy tricks or leaping in the air. Like a heavy metal warrior marching into battle, Ross let his weapon do the talking for him.
With the announcement that Hail To England was to be played top to bottom, the crowd erupted. This is what we’d come for! Chatting to punters in the crowd, there were more than a few like me living a childhood dream of finally experiencing this amazing album live. And what an experience it was! Marc Lopes’ vocals are something to behold. The frontman hit every note every time, working the room like the pro he is. Shirtless drummer Steve Bolognese kept the beat and perfectly replicated the album’s huge drum sound. A stand-out for me was bass player extraordinaire, Mike Lepond. The man is an enigma and seemed to occupy a different place in time and space to everyone else, all whilst maintaining complete presence. He’d play an already intricate bass line then just for the hell of it, add a flourish of notes at regular intervals, all while swapping effortlessly between a 4 and 8 string bass. No wonder Ross says he’s the best bass player he’s ever met.
The band did what they promised and delivered Hail to England in its (almost) entirety. The bass solo ‘Black Arrow’s was omitted from the set, but it wasn’t a huge loss. I’d certainly seen enough bass wizardry to make up for it. Finally, Lopes steeled himself for the last track, ‘Bridge of Death’, joking it was for him at least an endurance event. Coming in at around 9 minutes, you can understand the sentiment. The show didn’t end there with the band ripping through a clutch of Manowar classics including the song where it all started for me way back in 1987, ‘Fighting The World’. Ladies and gents, we’ve arrived in heavy metal heaven.
The band wrapped up an amazing evening by just hanging out with fans after the show. No VIP bullshit here, just giving back to those who support you. Each member took time to chat, sign vinyl and CDs and pose for photos. I don’t think I’ve ever met a humbler bunch of musicians, or had more fun at a gig.
Reviewed by Gareth Williams
Ross The Boss