NIGHT DEMON - Philly Speak: "Whiz Wit..."

August 30, 2018, 9 months ago

Mark Gromen

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So anywhere in the City Of Brotherly Love area, those two words will produce one of the iconic meals, recognized around the globe as a Philly Cheesesteak. Over time, people have dabbled with its make-up, adding gourmet touches like Kobe beef or expensive fromages, but there's always something special about the original ingredients. Same in the world of metal and with a nod to the NWOBHM forefathers, another two word appellation seems destined to be labeled a classic: Night Demon.

A short run in the States, promoting Live Darkness, before heading back to Europe for yet another tour, the seemingly perpetually on-the-road Ventura, California trio stopped by the Voltage Lounge, August 23rd. Fifth Philly date in the last four years and my eleventh chance to catch the band, in that same span. Not that there's necessarily the same upside, but there's definitely a similar excitement to early Iron Maiden (especially on this side of the Atlantic, where we missed Harry's infancy), watching a band grow, from virtually unknown club act, to supporting Accept overseas and are now acknowledged as a rising European festival entity. Where does it end (does it)?

Early show tonight, just female-fronted Salt Lake City touring buddies Blood Star to open and Night Demon are on at 9 PM. Nice to see a few varieties of Night Demon t-shirts in the audience, none of which were for sale this evening, meaning repeat customers, although talking beforehand there were quite a few first timers in the house. The haunting intro for "Welcome To The Night" moans, calling fans to the stage and bang! Jarvis Leatherby (bass/vocals) is like a racetrack greyhound, trying to catch the electronic rabbit, musically pouncing on another crowd. Opposite side of the stage is Armand John Anthony, hair flailing, as he speeds up and down the fretboard. The songs are delivered rapid fire. While in life, Leatherby likes to talk, onstage he barely pauses to mention what city he's in. "Full Speed Ahead", as the next song says. For "Hallowed Ground", Anthony cues the fans into thrusting fists overhead. 

New wrinkle, a snippet of Motorhead's "Overkill" leading directly to their own "Dawn Rider". A short break, four songs in, the bassist already covered in sweat, as the blackened stage turns red for the prerecorded intro to "The Howling Man". A veritable human bobble-head, his neck must be made of rubber, Leatherby madly headbangs the entire set. Down front, there's a group of guys in old school patch adorned denim jackets, trying to keep pace with the singer. 35 years ago, that might have been me! Infectious speedster "Black Widow" is up next, Armand laying down the hammer ons. Green lit "The Ritual" sees the trio (completed by He of Amazing Stamina, Dusty Squires, on drums) in attack mode, Anthony at the front of the stage, strafing the crowd. Don't know if it was on the setlist (but has been part of the constantly rotating choices), when someone yelled for "Maiden Hell", Jarvis obliged. 

If there's a slowdown, it's “Stranger In The Room". Sort of a respite before a frenetic "Screams In The Night", Armand's hair pin wheeling, as he plays. The band's skeletal mascot, Rocky, makes an appearance during "The Chalice", said drinking vessel in hand, bouncing between Jarvis and Armand.  The instrumental "Flight Of The Manticore" sees Leatherby hush the crowd, then the music takes off. As in Europe, the proper set concludes with The Scorpions' "In Trance". Ballsy to try Uli Jon Roth licks, but Anthony pulls them off, which is better than the crowd attempted "ah, ah" section, the singer grading the attempt as "good enough" before concluding with their signature tune.

Despite the club trying to clear everyone out, all the guys came offstage to talk, sign autographs and hang (Squires went to school an hour or so away, so there were former school mates around). Eventually, these road dogs pile in the van, off to the next destination. They play anytime, anywhere, so Night Demon probably will be nearby soon. Don't know how much longer these contenders will still be playing clubs.

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