It’s always windy on the Mumbles Road. The wind blasts in across Swansea Bay from the Bristol Channel, sweeping across the beach and dual carriageway. Tonight, hundreds of fans are sheltering around the edge of the Grade II listed Patti Pavilion, waiting for doors to open for a night of overblown charisma, Heavy metal posturing, and heavy riffs, with Fozzy, Escape The Fate and Scarlet Rebels in town.
Fozzy – Escape The Fate – Scarlet Rebels
The Patti Pavilion, Swansea – 10 November 2022
Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings
At least it’s dry, although no weather will prevent these fans from getting inside. Christopher Keith Irvine is in town, and his fan club is out in force. Who? Ah yes, Irvine is, of course, the real name of Chris Jericho, professional wrestler and singer with the band Fozzy for well over two decades. Fozzy are in Swansea as part of the Save the World Tour, promoting their Boombox album released in May.
The Patti Pavilion is a grand venue. Named after the great 19th century soprano Adelina Patti. The building was originally part of her fabulous Craig-y-Nos estate before being donated to the city in 1918. Now refurbished, it’s an 800-capacity venue that has seen a host of decent acts visit in recent years. With good sight lines and a decent sound, it’s easy to see why bands are now adding it to their tour schedules.
If ever there was a character born to be a Heavy Metal frontman it was Chris Jericho. Bang on time, the lights dim, and boom, there is the legendary wrestler turned rock star, utilising a flight case as a stand in front of a raging crowd who seem to have increased the tempo and temperature by a full ten degrees. It’s a heroic welcome, and the number of Fozzy shirts in the crowd bears testimony to the man and band’s popularity.
He may be 52, but Jericho is in fine shape. Not many his age can wear no shirt, a sequinned purple leather jacket, gloves, and leather trousers. Jericho can. With ease. He’s grinning from ear to ear as Fozzy get stuck into Sane, the first of 14 songs that will ultimately end with a raucous cover of Dirty Deeds. He seems fit and healthy, maybe a little larger than he was 20 years ago, but otherwise, there’s little change in physique. He ripples with focus and intensity.
Thankfully there’s more to Jericho than muscles. He can sing, work the audience and prowls like a caged tiger. The songs flow, with an unusually prolonged Relax from the latest album, an interesting choice. It’s a crowd-pleaser, though, with everyone singing along. Fozzy have brought a show. There’s plenty of lighting, smoke pillars and two screens showing various images.
Jericho reminds the crowd why Fozzy’s previous Swansea date in December 2021 hadn’t happened due to his pulmonary embolism, which caused him to be hospitalised in London. As he tells the crowd to look out for warning signs and stay healthy, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that at least one in every second person in the room is obese!
Fozzy is more than Jericho, of course, with the band tight and on point. Lead guitarist Rich ‘The Duke’ Ward can lay down a solo with ease, whilst the trio who make the engine room tick, Billy Grey (guitar), bassist PJ Fairly and new drummer Grant Brooks all add their own flashes to the show. Their music is anthemic, with songs like Start A War, Lights Go Out and Martyr No More all prompting huge singalongs.
Before we get to Enemy, Jericho asks the crowd who has seen Fozzy before. Surprisingly the number is far fewer than those who are breaking their Fozzy cherry. It seems that even after 20+ years, Fozzy is still attracting new fans. Enemy allows time for Ward and Grey to show their chops before the finale of Judas and the aforemented AC/DC cover bring things to a heady climax.
Although Scarlet Rebels are the local band on the tour, there doesn’t seem to be quite the partisan support one might have expected. A top-seven album in February with See Through Blue made them the first band from Llanelli to hit the top 40. Their brand of melodic hard rock is infectious, though, and the crowd are quickly drawn into the Rebels’ magic.
Vocalist Wayne Doyle’s rich and soulful vocals pull you in close, with lead guitarist Chris ‘CJ’ Jones’s ability to contort into numerous poses whilst ripping out lead breaks makes him a dream for those in the front row and especially for the togs in the pit. Opening with I’m Alive, it’s a short 30-minute set of six songs, three including I’m Alive, drawn from See Through Blue, and it goes by in a flash.
A blast of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to The Top pulls in a bit of extra crowd participation before Doyle does the appropriate advertisement for the band’s recently announced headline show at this very venue next year. It’s certainly noted in the diary, as I’m sure it is in a few others after this confident and polished set. Good to see the band happily mingling in the audience after the set too.
Escape The Fate
It’s evident within 30 seconds of Escape The Fate hitting the stage that the crowd are in two camps. Those that know every word written by the Los Vegas outfit and those who haven’t a clue who they are. The front row is clearly in the former camp, for they are screaming the words to Choose Your Fate from the off, including a couple of very enthusiastic females who later decide it’s far too hot to wear any clothes! Thankfully I’ve long cleared the photo pit by then.
Escape The Fate are a blur of motion. Craig Mabbitt is non-stop movement, so much so that you wonder how he can find the breath to sing, but sing, shout, roar and scream he does. He conducts the crowd, and those that know, well, you know … they respond 110%. Flanking either side of the stage, guitarists TJ Bell (also backing vocals) and lead Kevin ‘Thrasher’ Gruft are no slouches, strutting their stuff with the arrogance that only American bands seem to have.
They slice through heavy as hell riffs, their music a strange concoction of Metalcore, sleaze, emo and screamo. It’s hard, heavy, at points crushingly so in the same way Lorna Shore burst your ear drums, and yet there’s melody, clean harmonies and an overall groove that makes them absorbing to watch. They have a 45-minute set, and cram in 12 songs which are fast and furious. The Flood, Lightning Strike and Something all increase the temperature, although interestingly, only one track is taken from the most recent 2021 album Chemical Warfare with nearly half the set pulled from 2008s This War is Ours.
They slow things down temporarily for Ashley, but eyebrows are raised when TJ Bell takes the mic and asks if Swansea knows what a wall of death is. Cue slight adjustments on the floor as the vulnerable and faint-hearted scatter.
Swansea does the business though, and a small yet ferocious couple of rows slam into each other before the band conclude with One For The Money. “Best moment of my life,” says the young lady on the barrier when I overhear her later. “TJ touched my bra at least four times!” One wonders on the legality of this, so I moved quickly out of earshot. Escape The Fate certainly brought a show. The gauntlet was not so much thrown down as slammed on the stage.
It’s been a hot and sweaty evening full of charismatic performances. Three bands at different trajectories, all on top of their game. It was fun to watch, and for those diehard fans, probably the best opportunity to see three excellent bands up close and personal.