CONCERT REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – Armored Saint Live at The Regency Ballroom

A seasonably cold night in the Bay Area was heated up considerably by old-school, razor-sharp American Heavy Metal riffs on this late November night. All the usual suspects were out in their finest vintage shirts bought on ebay and secondhand spikes and leather as W.A.S.P. made their long-awaited return to North America on their 40th Anniversary tour. The crowd was extra-hopped up (pun intended) from the second I got on line outside the venue. Clearly, people were pre-gaming at nearby watering hole spots like Tommy’s Joynt, The Cinch Saloon, or Harper and Rye.  

Since moving to the area I have attended three shows at The Regency Ballroom, and in truth, it’s been a mixed bag of experiences. A great layout, with excellent sightlines, a cool old balcony, strategically placed bars, several bathrooms, usually good security staff, and a dedicated merch area are pluses. The venue is hit or miss with the sound. On this night the show was a sell-out (good) with the walkup sealing the deal, but the staff at the front was overwhelmed with all the cash payers, will call and others trying to get in. I felt bad for them, but also the venue can do better than this. 


Armored Saint provided direct support on this tour with no other opener, with both bands playing essentially a headliner’s setlist, value-wise. Even though he had voice issues earlier in the tour, and was spelled by Jason McMaster for several shows, John Bush was in full control of the stage and the mic tonight. Putting out their Punching The Sky (Metal Blade) album at the height of the pandemic and not touring too much since, the band was energized and hungry at the next to last gig of the tour, as they were at the start of it. Or, our spies back east told us. They banged through a killer set of old-school songs, and more recent tracks and the last few strong ones. The world needs much more ass-kicking heavy metal from The Saint soon.

INTERVIEW: John Bush of Armored Saint on Touring with W.A.S.P., and Much More!



I totally get that the current San Francisco/East Bay is a mix of old-guard lifers, and new fans that are the lifeblood of the new underground scene. Also, W.A.S.P. hasn’t toured the USA in a very, very long time, so the crowd was understandably amped up. I definitely witnessed a lot of over- partying, hearty in-show raging, and bathroom stall Columbian nose candy partying happened tonight. I’m not against having an awesome time, and a Heavy Metal show is supposed to be a blast, but the crowd vibe in between the bands was a downer to me.  


W.A.S.P teased the anticipation, with an odd audio pastiche of all the band’s greatest hits and choruses. Cool, but I’ve never seen or heard that done ever. They hit the stage hard with a cool medley of “On Your Knees” / “The Flame” / “The Torture Never Stops” / “Inside the Electric Circus.” The stage setup was a cool carney vibe with killer lighting. Blackie Lawless held dominion over the crowd from his personal pulpit from hell, complete with his steerable motorcycle handlebars! The entire band sounded killer, especially drummer Aquiles Priester, who was a standout the entire night. I was really impressed with how much Blackie moved around, engaged the crowd and put on a good performance. I say that knowing full well there were a bunch of backing vocal and guitar tracks used on this night, rendering the performances little different that the sound of the records, with the band still performing at the same time. Many bands, especially veteran bands are doing it, so don’t interpret this a diss, my dear readers. Along with the music videos of each song playing behind them, it did create an interesting experience, to say the least. 


The set held a few surprises, but fans wanted to hear the hits, and so they did! The loudest singing of the night from the very hype crowd was on the choruses of jukebox faves “L.O.V.E. Machine,” “Wild Child,” and the major tracks that made up the encore. Blackie spoke to the crowd just a few times, but mentioned it is not just the 40th anniversary of the band, but also the 30th anniversary of the bands artistic zenith, The Crimson Idol. It was a nice detour for the short set of songs, but the air went out of the crowd briefly in terms of participation. 


The band came out for the encore, proceed by a big video discussing the obscenity trials and the controversy over “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast).” I appreciate the history lesson for the fans that don’t know that story or weren’t around for it, but it would be more impactful if the song hadn’t been axed from the setlist for many years. I loved Blackie thanking the crowd and even crediting fans on social media for demanding the band return to the USA and a sold-out tour! He even praised the fans he interacted with at the meet and greets, even though he said he wished he didn’t have to do them. Very classy and humble.



For the final throes of the evening the band jammed out to their typical Who cover of “The Real Me” and “I Wanna Be Somebody” to close out an overall great show. I could do with more songs, but I won’t complain about two bands playing hour-long sets and leaving everyone satisfied. I really appreciated Blackie’s real joy being back with the fans and the give and take he had with the crowd. If you missed this tour, definitely do go see them when they circle back around in the future.


Set list, via

On Your Knees / The Flame / The Torture Never Stops / Inside the Electric Circus

L.O.V.E. Machine

Wild Child

The Idol

The Great Misconceptions of Me

Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)

Blind in Texas



Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)

The Real Me (The Who cover)

I Wanna Be Somebody


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