Tuesday, June 10, was the opening night of Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper mini US Tour. This is a quick seven shows in eight nights run launching with a two night stand at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn.
Saint Vitus is a heavy metal bar and killer place to see a show. You walk into the bar area which is long, narrow and dimly lit with video of metal concerts projected on one of the side walls (classic Black Sabbath, Dio and Guns n Roses on this night). The bar back shelves are lined with classic mostly signed metal albums and the other side wall is the doorway into the concert area which I would guess holds in the area of 200 to 250 when packed out which it was on this night when Grim Reaper took the stage.
Just before the show I read that the last time Grim Reaper played New York prior to this night was in 1987. I was at one of those shows (at the Mid Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY) 27 years ago. It was a great triple bill right before Halloween headlined by Grim Reaper with Helloween and Armored Saint opening. One of my friends who came to this show actually had the setlist from that gig and Steve got a kick out of checking it out all these years later when we met him after the band's set.
We were all excited for this gig, but wondered how Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper of today who hold up to the teenage memories of the band that kicked ass at that Poughkeepsie gig. Would Steve still have the voice? Would his current band have the chops of the original band that featured guitarist Nick Bowcott? There was a brief moment a couple of weeks ago when it was announced Bowcott would actually be playing at these Brooklyn gigs, but shortly after it was said he had to cancel due to tendonitis. A lot of questions to be answered.
Perhaps knowing some might have such questions, Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper decided to immediately put them to rest by opening with one of their two most iconic tunes - "Rock You To Hell."
It sounded awesome!
Other than Steve on vocals, the lineup of Grim Reaper is Ian Nash on guitar, Chaz Grimaldi on bass and Paul White on drums. The band is tight, energetic and appeared to love the reaction of the rabid metal fans in attendance who knew not only the two "hits" (which would open and close the show), but all the songs played on this evening.
Following up the opening title track to their third album were two other songs from that album, "Night of the Vampire" and "Lust For Freedom". They then went into a double shot from their debut album with "Wrath of the Ripper" and "Now or Never."
Between songs Steve continually thanked the crowd for coming out and the great response. We then got a taste of their second album with the title track off of "Fear No Evil."
Next up was "Liar" and then Steve announced they were going to play something new, the title track from their forthcoming album "From Hell." (If "Hell" works why not stick with it!).
Three of the next four songs were back to the second album with "Never Coming Back", "Lay It On The Line", "Rock Me Til I Die" and "Matter of Time."
As stated earlier, Steve and the band sounded great, but if a vocalist ever wants to show he's still got the goods, there's always a litmus test that can't be faked - cover a song by Dio. The band nailed "Don't Talk to Strangers" with the audience singing loudly along.
As the cheers died down after this Dio tribute, Steve announced he was going to play a song that he figured was one for the ladies and had a chuckle when one such lady in the crowd yelled out for "Suck It and See"! If the band does look to add to their setlist when they come back to the states later in the summer for another leg of the tour, the most requested songs by the audience all night were "Suck It and See" and "Dead on Arrival" - neither of which would get played. Instead the band played "Waysted Love."
Steve said how normally at this point, if there were a backstage they would leave the stage and come back for the encore, but since there was not they would just play through and launched into "Final Scream."
Then there was only one song left and as the opening notes of "See You In Hell" began, the audience who had been rocking out all night went apeshit and a good portion of the crowd jumped up on stage to sing along. I love the look on Steve's Face in this shot during the audience invasion!
Steve allowed them stage time for about half the song but then somewhat shooed them off and everyone politely obliged, finishing their rocking back down on the floor.
Steve said the band would come out to the merchandise table for anyone who wanted to meet them or get stuff signed and they all did about 15 minutes later and it was a great way to end the night.
On this tour, all the band was selling was this shirt pictured below. Evidently it was so popular it sold out after the third gig and their screen printing company was working emergency overtime to get shirts out for the rest of the tour.
It was a great night of rock and if Steve or any members of the band are reading this, we'd love you guys to come back to Poughkeepsie all these years later. Maybe at the The Chance or The Loft at the Chance. I'll be happy to pass on the info.
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