Thanks to the seemingly eternal roadworks in the middle of Birmingham city centre, I managed to miss opening act Deadfilmstar, but luckily arrived just in time for costumed Northern nutters, Ward XVI. Armed with chainsaws, plastic handguns, and bloody knives, the preposterous Prestoners enjoy cutting each other’s throats, eviscerating dead bodies, and enjoying a refreshingly cold glass of blood. For those who witnessed their memorable early morning show at Bloodstock Open Air last year, the Alice Cooper style theatrics will have come as no surprise, but to an unsuspecting Brummie audience expecting some three-minute explosions of shouty horror punk, the avant-garde insanity took a little time to settle in. However, when it did, the crowd visibly loosened up and really started enjoying themselves, some even going so far as joining big-haired female vocalist Psychoberrie in a little Cossack dancing “Circus Pit”. Although the much smaller venue meant their performance wasn’t as instant or explosive as their tent-filling triumph at Bloodstock, Ward XVI were still the band (main act aside) most people seemed to be talking about at the end of the night.
Mancunian act The Dead XIII was up next and gave the crowd something more in tune with what they were originally expecting from the evening. Keyboard driven Punk Metal with horror themes, cracking guitar solos, and chunky riffs, vocalist Kurt Blackshard grabbed the audience by the scruff of the neck (no small achievement for someone with one arm) and never let go until it was time to exit the stage. An energetic half an hour of aggressively catchy songs performed with determination and exuberance, and the perfect build-up to the main event.
The first thing you notice about Doyle is, well… Doyle. You simply cannot miss him. Wearing a black hoodie in a failed attempt to avoid being noticed, the six and a half-foot monster made his way to the stage through the crowd, a good ten to twelve inches taller than virtually everybody else in the venue.
Removing the pointless hoodie and getting straight down to business with ‘Abominator’, the title track of his début album, the musclebound, devilocked guitarist proceeded to indelicately punch, slap, and smash his poor defenceless guitar into sweaty submission over the course of the next hour, while vocalist Alex “Wolfman” Story introduced virtually every song in the set by saying “the next one’s kind of a love song. You can dance to it if you feel so inclined”, slurring his words and staring into the middle distance like he was in some sort of wasted, drunken stupor.
And he may very well have been, if not for the fact that he nailed every one of his cues without fail. If indeed he was drunk, then he possesses an uncanny sober professionalism, but if he was sober then he has a hell of a drunk act.
A distinct lack of any Misfits material may have upset a few punters, but Doyle obviously feels confident enough in his own solo output to not bother relying on past glories. And with tracks as good as ‘Dreamingdeadgirls’, ‘Witchcraft’, ‘Valley of Shadows’, and the completely tasteful ‘Cemeterysexxx” who can blame him?
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY GARY ALCOCK
Mention photo pit