They say that rock n’ roll never dies, that it lives on forever. The same is true for vampires and the band that shaped the genre goth n’ roll: The 69 Eyes. Celebrating their 30th band anniversary, the Helsinki Vampires crept into Mesa, Arizona on February 9th during their Hell Has No Mercy Tour. With the recent release of their 12th full-length record, West End, there were fans both new and old that came to Club Red to see them live. It was promised to be an evening of tantalizing vocals from Jyrki 69, powerful guitar solos from Bazie 69 and Timo-Timo, electric energy pounding from Jussi 69’s drum kit, all held together with Archzie 69’s clean bass lines. With the support of a wide range of musical talent, theatrics, and sound, the show kept you on the edge of your seat.
Texas metalheads The Crowned opened up the show with an interestingly provocative set, blowup doll and all. The four-piece metal band, fronted by the drummer/lead singer Marc Coronado keeps you entertained musically as well as comically. During the first song Johnny “Danger” Damien on bass sparks the crowd’s interest with consistent performance across the stage. Their song Warfare catches the attention of the crowd with its heavy intro and powerful first scream. Ending with an incredibly impressive guitar solo by Anthony Carrillo and supported by guitarist Jesse Rodriguez, the crowd finally fully engages.
Next to take the stage is the female-fronted band Sumo Cyco, all the way from Toronto, Canada. The four-piece present a fusion of sounds; blending heavy metal with dance hall and punk rock. From the moment she stormed onto the stage, the crowd could not take their eyes or ears away from vocalist Skye “Sever” Sweetnam. With her constant dance moves and charged vocals, she keeps an upbeat intensity that is infectious. It is hard to ignore Matt “Trozzi” on drums, there are so many moments where Trozzi steals the show with his vibrant showmanship, hard-hitting sound and facial expressions that pull you right into the moment. The explosive live performance and sound from both Oscar Anesetti on bass, and Matt “MD13” Drake on guitar brings the band together as a full powerhouse. Stragglers at the bar have now made their way to the stage, even as Sweetnam makes her way through the crowd to get a “little closer look” at her fans before the set ends.
An array of Wednesday 13 shirts take over the crowd, as anxious chatter grows loud across the venue. The evening turns up another notch as the lights fall and spacey synth sounds begin to play. The stage remains dark, but the fans scream as they begin to make out the shadow figures of the band Wednesday 13 that creep across the stage. An eerie robotic voice informs the crowd that they are now entering the Necrophaze and the shadow of front man, Wednesday, begins to move with the blinking lights illuminating from his body. The drums crash, sending Wednesday into exaggerated movements that transform him into his first stage persona. Dripping in green slime and black leather, Wednesday takes command of the stage and the audience.
His bandmates follow suit with their black leather getup and horrific black and white makeup; encapsulating both the essence of rock n’ roll and a horror movie. The crowd is completely tuned in to the story being told on stage, as Wednesday rips off one mask to reveal another. Jack Tankersley on guitar looms over the crowd as he delivers riffs that send chills up your spine. As the first song comes to an end, Wednesday leaves the stage, only to return from the darkness as a new persona wearing a black hood and wielding a knife. A pulse-rising intro begins to play and shouts of Zodiac are heard from the crowd. Kyle Castronovo steals the show on this song with his heart pounding drum fills and terrifying faces peering over his neon drum kit. Next, they are taking it back to the Wednesday 13 classics. You hear the crowd screaming along to I Want You Dead, Scream Baby Scream, Serpent Society, and Prey For Me. The solo instrumental guitar work from Roman Surman is spellbinding on each song, accompanied by Troy Doebbler’s powerfully haunting bass riffs. Serpent Society unearths the satanic persona, equipped with a cloak, glowing pitchfork and horned mask. The stage is soaked in red light as the crowd raises their horns to the hypnotic instrumentals and theatrics. Prey for Me and Decompose reveal another monster. This persona, with two faces, bends the illusion of theatrics and reality. Altogether the band creates a performance that must be seen as well as heard. The pace keeps up until the final note of Keep Watching the Sky rings out, leaving the crowd in the dark with their nightmares.
With the final band, there is no need for an introduction. The moment that the lights dim, the crowd erupts with noise. The echoing of “I love you’s” and the names of The 69 Eyes band members fill the venue as each one takes their place on the stage. Jyrki takes his place; front and center. With his back turned to the crowd, exposing the iconic bones on the back of his leather jacket, he throws his two horns up (leather bone gloves and all) and the crowd matches with theirs. An electric buzz is cast over the venue as a heavy riff kicks open the headlining set to greet the eager fans. There are no special lights, or special effects – just the pure sound of goth n’ roll as it was originally intended. The recognizable sound of Jyrki’s deep and edgy voice bathes the listeners in the distinctive sound that has captivated crowds for decades. This opening song showcases the talent of each musician. Bazie, accompanied by Timo-Timo, hit the crowd with dynamic guitar riffs that keep your blood pumping. Their masterful skills have the audience at full attention. Archzie on bass and Jussi on drums together create the dark and echoing ambiance of heavy metal. Each of their unique sounds blends flawlessly to create a goth ballad that keeps the crowd rocking until the final chant of Two Horns Up. Jyrki leads into Never Say Die with a jumping start and gestures belonging to the lyrics. As Timo-Timo spins along with the drumbeat, you find your feet involuntarily stomping with him. The energy flows through Jussi into the next song; bringing him to his feet to begin the intro to Black Orchid. The bass rumbles to your core as Archzie flashes wicked grimaces to the crowd. The dark romantic ballad fades into the enticing tune Perfect Skin. Introducing the sensual and seductive nature of Jyrki’s voice, with the perfect lyrics to match, there is even allure in the instrumentals. This leads us into Betty Blue followed up by Borderline, and rightfully so because at this point the crowd has been taken on a poetic journey through life and love.
There is a song for every person in the crowd, no matter what style resonates with them. The pace increases over the next few songs, with Jyrki’s punk rock Elvis-inspired dance moves and shameless spirit. At one point he lifts the microphone stand over his head and gyrates to the sound of the guitar. He dedicates Cheyenna to all of the biker girls in the crowd. The heavy sound pulls back slightly during the verses, but overall the song is powerful in its subtlety. Every woman in the crowd sways her hips and hands to the music, until Jyrki theatrically narrates the lines “And no story can tell, how many souls she took down to hell,” starting an epic guitar solo. Bazie delivers a tight solo that matches the iconic sound of rock n’ roll greats. There is no doubt that with the mesmeric chorus and entrancing bass riffs, this is a song that has you singing along and follows you long after it ends. The addictive guitar licks don’t end with Cheyenna, but only pick up in the oldest song on the set list Wasting The Dawn. The energy spikes as the haunting drumbeat of 27 & Done begins. For being a song off of the latest album, the crowd knows every word. As the crowd sings “let’s all die young” in unison with the band, it is hard to ignore the grim feeling of reality that sinks in with the lyrics. At this moment the crowd-to-band connection is inseparable. The crowd is tired, but begging for more, dances along to the last songs of the night. They relentlessly chant “69” until the vampires take the stage for a few more songs. Jyrki takes a moment to thank the fans, saying that they are truly humbled. After an eerie introduction of the song Framed in Blood, the fist-pumping intro rings out over the screaming crowd. The pace continues with accompanied claps during Dance D’Amour and finishes with Lost Boys, which draws the largest reaction of the entire night. As the show comes to a close, the nostalgia sets in. It is hard not to reminisce on the music career of The 69 Eyes; the history, the passion and the evolution of their music. That said, it is also easy to see why they are not stopping anytime soon.
CLICK HERE for more pics of The 69 Eyes from the show.
CLICK HERE for more Wednesday 13 pics from the show.
THE 69 EYES