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Review: Manilla Road - 40th Anniversary Tour
Manilla Road
www.manillaroad.net
40th Anniversary Tour
Venue: Jewel Nightclub
City: Manchester, NH

Show date: October 22, 2017
Guests: Oxblood Forge, Reckless Force and Grave Knight

Review online: October 25, 2017
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
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40th Anniversary Tour

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Review


Though I am a relative newcomer to the music of Manilla Road, they are undoubtedly a band that, had I discovered them back in the 80s, would easily have joined Iron Maiden and Judas Priest among my favorites. Better late than never as I am a huge fan now, so when the opportunity to see them live on their 40th Anniversary Tour stopped in New Hampshire, I wasn't about to miss it. I have to say the Jewel Nightclub is a class place. It isn't the biggest and the stage setup isn't the best (there is a ceiling beam at the front of the stage) but it is clean and the staff is very friendly and accommodating. On to the show.

Three local bands opened for The Road; Oxblood Forge, Reckless Force and Grave Knight. Oxblood Forge was heavy, but the vocals were screamy, modern stuff and didn't do anything for me. Grave Knight and Reckless Force were more in the traditional metal mold and I thought Grave Knight had better material but neither band was particularly memorable. Lots of energy, so I will give them that.

Manilla Road went on around 11. The set was spare with just the club's lights but as soon as the band started, it was like being at Keep It True or some other big, European festival. Mark "The Shark" Shelton, Bryan "Hellroadie" Patrick, Neudi and Phil Ross just owned it. I was fortunate to be at the front of the stage on Shelton's side and got to see him play up close. The man is still amazing as he approaches 60. I have said in a couple of reviews that I prefer Shelton's vocals over Patrick's but now, seeing the band live, I totally get it. Shelton focuses on the guitar, though he still sings quite a few parts to many of the songs, but Patrick is the lead and he can roar. He hits all the notes just right and is clearly the man for the job as Manilla Road moves into their fifth decade. Ross and Neudi are as solid a rhythm section as any band could want.

They played the title track from their newest release, To Kill a King, but truly understanding what the fans want, The Road focused on older material including SIX songs from Crystal Logic. The crowd was theirs from the opening solo of "Flaming Metal Systems" and we sang along like Vikings keeping time while rowing the longboat. It would have been hard to pick the best songs if they hadn't played "Cage of Mirrors," my all-time favorite, but "The Ninth Wave," "The Riddle Master" and of course "Necropolis" killed. Hell, a mosh pit even broke out during a sped-up version of "Heavy Metal to the World." But perhaps the best part of the show was pulling into the parking lot around 6pm and finding The Shark standing by his car having a cigarette. I walked up and introduced myself to one of the nicest, most humble rock stars I have ever had the chance to meet. We were joined by Patrick and Neudi and talked about the tour, the music business, the music and lots of non-music topics for about half an hour before they had to leave for sound check. After the show, they were all outside (except Ross) once again talking to fans. This, folks, was one of the best show experiences I've ever had, and I've been to hundreds since the early 80s. If you have a chance to see Manilla Road in the future (this tour will have wrapped up by the time you read this), do not hesitate to go.


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