10 November 2018 at Manning Bar
Fozzy is a five piece all American hard rock/heavy metal band who formed in Alanta, Georgia in 1999 by vocalist Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward. Currently, the band consists of an additional three members, drummer Frank Fontsere, lead guitarist Billy Grey and bassist Paul Di Leo. Their musical style ranges from hard rock to heavy metal, progressive metal and alternative metal.
I departed home last night in anticipation of seeing a band I had only myself recently discovered. I arrived at the Manning Bar which occupies a piece of land on the beautiful campus grounds of Sydney University surrounded by old world charm sandstone buildings that look more like cathedrals than classrooms and where the garden beds and hedges are well manicured and tended to with care and precision. I was greeted by a queue of fans who mostly wore black T-shirts show casing their favorite band. The crowd were a mixed bunch to my surprise ranging from ages 18-60!
I entered the Manning Bar and climbed the stairs which curved to the left and found myself in a large room with cathedral ceilings and dark timber beams with a long table against the far wall where they were selling ‘Fozzy’ merchandise. Moving past this room I entered the main arena where the stage was set for the Fozzy onslaught. A very pleasing medium sized venue with stage set at the center and the floor space designed into three tiers and shaped as a semi circle. Two large doors opened up onto a huge balcony where one could get some fresh air or escape the noise for whatever reason. The fans were in good spirits and well behaved engaging in drinks at the bar and small chit chat. I felt very comfortable and at ease in this venue and i will surely love to come back in the near future for another gig.
I’m not going to flower my words or give you lengthy details on the colour of the curtains or shape of the windows and how these things could of disturbed the harmonics in the room. I’m going to share with you what I saw, what I heard and mostly what I felt!
The room was filling fast and everyone had found their position in the room especially the hardcore fans who were glued to the front of the stage and weren’t giving up their position for anything! The energy in the room was electric and everyone was eagerly staring at the stage waiting for that moment to arrive. The lights dimmed and the crowd roared out, chanting in unison, Fozzy, Fozzy, Fozzy, Oi, Oi, Oi!!! The stage was set with a glowing banner which read the bands name, lights were flickering in blue and silver, the room now filled nearly to capacity. Finally, Fozzy blasted out on stage looking energized and eager to please the fans. Chris Jericho was clad in his unique, one of a kind signature sparkly leather jacket and long diamonte scarf which reached his shins! He took a position on the carefully placed pedestal at the center of the stage and the keenly awaited show began!!
Judas, their number one single in the USA was the first song off the rack. The band dazzled as they performed for their dedicated fans. We all sang along and cheered as we were being entertained in a spectacle of light and sound and almost instantly I too became part of the Fozzy family of fans.
Fozzy sounded great and there wasn’t much difference between the studio recorded version of the song to hear it live on stage. I felt excited as smoke billowed out from the front of the stage and the lights danced on all who watched on.
Immediately after Judas ended Chris Jericho greeted Sydney fans with a big ‘HELLO SYDNEY!!’ It was impressive to see how connected the band were to their fans and vise-versa. It was if they had all met before with an extraordinary familiarity which is something I’ve rarely witnessed at gigs. There was a closeness that was truly captivating to watch. Chris Jericho spoke to his fans about the last time they visited Sydney, which was in 2013, and how excited they all were to be back again.
Drinking with Jesus was the next song. Frank Fontsere smashed it on the drums while Rich Wards’ exceptional guitar skills set the room on fire! The fans were waving their arms in the air and swimming in a sound that would make anyone want to shake their hair loose. One Crazed Anarchist followed by Sins and Bones and Burn Me Out. Dedicated fans began chanting, “You’ve still got it, you’ve still got it!” directed at Chris Jericho who celebrated his birthday yesterday. The room was alive with love and appreciation.
The heavy melodic grooves, high energy, and passion swept through the arena and everyone was in high throttle. The band was having so much fun literally bouncing off each other, running up and down the stage and totally immersing themselves at what they do best, and that is, entertain. Everyone in the room was enjoying the show.
The band was so engaging and somewhat comical when Chris Jerichos’ belt broke, but luckily, a close by stagehand brought a replacement quickly. The fans chanting once again, “You’ve still got it, you’ve still got it!” The band continued to wow the fans with Painless, Spider In My Mouth, Elevator and Do You Wanna Start a War.
A long line of what seemed like young local girls walk out onto the stage where they took the position in front of Frank Fontseres’ drum kit. The girls, with huge smiles on their faces, joined in on the celebrations dancing to the groove of the music and when the song was over Chris Jericho high fived every one of them thanking them for their time. The fans started chanting “Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday” to Chris Jericho who seemed a little lost as to how the audience knew it was his birthday but he quickly went along with it proclaiming, “It’s all our birthday!” The crowd clapped and cheered.
Painless was next on the list, arms in the air with fans singing along. The song ended and suddenly the room went dark. Chris Jericho disappeared from the stage only to return and resume position on his pedestal with his back to the audience. Then, to everyone’s amazement Chris Jerichos’ jacket lit up like a bright colourful Christmas tree!! I don’t think anyone was expecting that by the sounds that fell from everyone’s throats, everyone captivated and thrilled at the spectacle. It was definitely one of the highlights of the show with the fans chanting, “This is awesome, this is awesome!” Chris Jericho picked up the nozzle of the smoke machine and fired it at the crowd covering the ones he could reach. His funny little antics were very welcomed.
The next song began, an old ABBA classic favorite, SOS, which Fozzy delivered in fine form. I noticed some scuffling center in front of the stage and those dedicated fans were trying to start a snake pit but it didn’t last long. Fozzy continued playing ‘Lights Go Out’ and ‘Wolves at Bay’. When the song ended Chris Jericho thanked Sydney for coming and with a cheeky grin said, “Fuck Def Leopard!”, who also happen to be playing in Sydney the same night. The crowd joined in chanting, “Fuck Def Leopard, Fuck Def Leopard”! No serious or personal insult was intended toward Def Leopard themselves, it was just an assumption that Def Leopard had attracted a bigger crowd and if it wasn’t for them playing the same night a bigger crowd may have been anticipated at Fozzy’s’ gig.
The next song, ‘Enemy’ was the highlight of my night. It gave me, and I would expect everyone else in the room, goosebumps!! Rich Ward played the most amazing solo lead that saw him take center stage jumping into the fans below who caught him on his back whilst he continued to shred his guitar with a precision never missing a note! It was truly a mind-blowing spectacle and unbelievably risky! Fortunately, it went without a hitch and no one was hurt. The crowd lapped it up and I was left with my mouth on the floor! The fans chanted one more time, ‘Holy shit, holy shit!’
The show was now coming to an end and Chris Jericho proudly introduced each band member and bid us all goodnight. An encore was demanded by all and Fozzy complied. An Australian classic TNT by AC/DC filled the room for the last song of the night and the crowd went crazy cheering and head-banging for the last of the evening.
I left the venue elated with a huge smile on my face whispering under my breath as I walked, “that was so bloody good, that was so bloody good!!’ I felt content and very happy that I had been given the opportunity to see Fozzy live. A concert I will never forget!
Thank you Fozzy for one of the most entertaining performances I’ve ever seen! A band so dedicated to providing a fun-filled and exciting stage show, coupled with the expertise and skill of every band member, make them a band to be reckoned with and they are surely NOT to missed next time.
If its hard rock and heavy metal that makes you raise your horns then Fozzy is up there with the best of them. I am now a dedicated Fozzy fan and I wait in pure agony to see them play again!! Guess I’m purchasing their latest album, ‘Judas’ first.
Line-up: Fozzy, Kvelts Vice, Molly The Krells
Reviewer: Anna Laris
Photocredits: Jab Photography