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Review: Manilla Road - The Blessed Curse Tour
Manilla Road
The Blessed Curse Tour
Venue: The Nitro Lounge
City: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Show date: November 04, 2015
Guests: Dr Rock Doctor & The Malpractice, Chainmail

Review online: November 4, 2015
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
The Blessed Curse Tour

Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (5 Votes)

Review: When I found out Manilla Road were actually going to play in my hometown, I was as stoked as anyone can get. Despite the fact that their home base is rather nearby in Wichita, they spend far more time touring overseas than here in the wastelands of the Midwest. I grabbed a ticket way ahead of time, and showed up right when the doors opened at 8.

The Nitro Lounge is a classic place that's been open in one form or another since the 80s, so its rather intimate confines were perfect for a show like this. Publicity had been light, and so there were maybe 50-60 people in attendance total, but the relaxed atmosphere and the friendly staff made for a memorable time anyway. There are actual places to sit in the Nitro, and complimentary water and snacks, so it was a far different experience than some of the crap venues I have been in.

My first big surprise was finding Mark Shelton himself sitting at a table outside having a smoke and chatting with fans. The man is as far from 'prima donna' as it is possible to get, and I spent a good while just hanging out with him, getting my shit signed, and hearing metal stories. He was friendly and gracious to every fan who came up, and made sure to introduce the other band members as well, though they were far less voluble. It was obvious they were tired after the three solid weeks of their US tour, but their energy level for the show never flagged.

First opener was local cover band goofballs Dr Rock Doctor & the Malpractice. With a name like that I didn't expect much, but they ripped through an energetic set of cover tunes including "Metal Gods", "Curse of the Pharaohs" and "The Axeman". They had chops and a good vocalist with a lot of presence, and they did a good job of warming up the crowd.

Second openers Chainmail managed to almost kill the entire show. They seemed to be playing some kind of groove bullshit. I say 'seemed' because they cranked their stage amps way too loud and all that could be heard was a reverberating rumble of sound crashing into itself. They succeeded in chasing almost half the crowd outside onto the patio, and people just wanted their set to be over.

Thankfully, once it was, the Road took the stage and ripped through a tremendous set of mostly classic material - I don't think they played more than a few songs from this century. They opened with "Mask of the Red Death", segued into "Death By the Hammer", and never let up. "Mystification", "Flaming Metal Systems", "Divine Victim", "Witches Brew", "Cage of Mirrors", "Open the Gates", and of course "Necropolis" were all played with conviction and spot-on virtuosity. Mark even played the solo behind his head during "The Road of Kings" as a genuine mosh pit got going in the front row.

Before the show, as he was signing my stuff, Mark and I had discussed favorites and such about all the different Manilla Road albums, and I had waxed on about "The Ninth Wave" being about my favorite song they ever did. So the pinnacle of a great night for me was when Mark gave me a shout-out from onstage and then proceeded to play "The Ninth Wave" in its glorious entirety - spot-on and note for frigging note. Drummer Neudi was playing on the classic Manilla Road drumset that was used by Rick Fisher to record Crystal Logic back in the day, and he hit every single obtuse fill and beat in that song absolutely perfectly. It was without a doubt the best fucking moment I ever had at a show.

So I have to say that if you get a chance to see this venerable band in person you should not miss it. far beyond just being a band with a great back catalog of songs, they play their asses off and put on a fantastic show. Mark Shelton is a true fan and a man of the people, and watching him play in person was a genuine pleasure, as I still consider him one of the greatest players to ever pick up a guitar. A fantastic show.

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