Rowdy metal fans bleed for Savatage in Vancouver on the Gutter Ballet Tour


By Steve Newton

It was supposed to be a triple-bill of American recording acts, featuring Atlantic’s Savatage, Def American’s Trouble, and MCA’s Spread Eagle, and that combination could well have resulted in the year’s top metal triple-bill.

But as bad luck would have it, Trouble and Spread Eagle pulled out at the last minute due to lack of tour support, which left Savatage with back-up from Vancouver acts Tommy Floyd and Osiris.

That also left local metal mavens going, “Huh?”

But a few hundred hard-core Savatage followers showed up at the Commodore last Friday (August 31) anyway. I got there just in time to hear Tommy Floyd making a disjointed racket with his last tune—it sounded like he was trying a little too hard to pull things off with a roar, and not succeeding.

When the main attraction hit the stage amidst a cloud of smoke and the barrage of cranked amps, the die-hards on the floor squeezed up front, heads a-bangin’ and fists a-pumpin’—which is typical for a metal show, of course. Unfortunately, the noise Savatage was relaying sounded—for the most part—typical as well.

The band sounded best to these punished ears while performing tracks from its latest album, Gutter Ballet, interesting tunes that combine the intricate arrangements of Maiden or Metallica with the simplistically brutal melodies of Priest. But the more numbing and repetitive thrash side of Savatage exerted itself throughout the show and left me wondering, “Don’t I have something better to do?”

What did impress me about Savatage, though, was its street-level rapport with the fans, in particular the rowdies up front. While some recording acts have roadies who look to maim anyone who dares hop on stage, the Savatage security guy used minimal force—meaning a good solid shove back onto the floor.

One unfortunate stage-diver suffered a nasty cut on landing, though, his forearm saying hello to some broken glass. He repaired to the washroom for some cleaning up, and in no time was back out front, waving his bandaged arm in the air.

Are those metal fans nuts, or what?

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