Updated: Feb 6
Ajax, Ontario - In 1977, a one of kind, Canadian heavy metal band was born in Ontario's capital city of Toronto. As the band grew, they became extremely influential to many young, up and coming bands in the genre. Bands like Metallica, and Anthrax were completely in awe of this outfit from Canada. The band that exploded out of the gates is none other than Heavy Metal Pioneers "Anvil".
As the story goes, Anvil frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow recalls touring in Europe in 1983, in support of heavy metal giants "Motorhead". After one of the shows, the singer/guitarist ended up hanging with none other than "THE" Lemmy Kilmeister. Even at that time, 40 years ago, Lemmy was a legend, and Steve Kudlow was in complete awe as Lemmy sat across from him. Between the 2 sat bottles of booze, and the showdown was on. Of course, "Lips" was not going to be a match for Lemmy in this category, as he quickly found himself being drunk under the table. Very few in fact were ever able to keep up with the Motorhead frontman.
Being honoured to be in his seat, Steve made it known to Lemmy how influential he is. Lemmy told "Lips" that he would be in his chair in 6 months, and another musician would be telling him the same things that he was saying to Lemmy. Sure enough, some time later, Steve found himself sitting with a young band from San Francisco. The drummer of this band told Steve "You guys are one of the most influential bands of all time" to which Lips replied "Lars, in 6 months, you'll be sitting in my chair telling the next band the same thing I'm telling you now". I think from here you should clearly know who that San Francisco band was, so I'm not going to spell it out for you.
45 years since their birth, Anvil continues to be one of the hardest working bands in heavy metal. While their stardom shot off quite rapidly, and the 1980s saw their greatest success, Anvil unfortunately found themselves in obscurity. They have continued to tour non-stop and release new albums on the regular however. In fact, they have 19 studio albums to their credit. Their latest album is titled Impact is Imminent which was released earlier this year in 2022. It is with this release that Anvil finds themselves touring again, and on September 8, 2022 they made a stop in my home town of Ajax, Ontario at none other than The Edge Lounge, one of the premiere live music venues in Durham Region.
As the band hits the stage, Lips starts the show out on the floor with the crowd, running back and forth, licking out a guitar solo that has the crowd on their toes. Five minutes into the set, I can't even find the words. I have never seen such a start to a show, and it sets the stage for the next 2 hours.
Time takes its toll after 45 years of pounding metal. This is clearly recognizable by some of the fans at the show. Steve Ludlow also sees this plain as day. Early in the set, he tells the crowd how great it is to see them, even with their grey hair, and in some cases, no hair (I wasn't the only one). With this, he also tells us that he sympathizes. He himself has a "hole in his head", referring to his bald spot. He turns around and let's us all see it for ourselves. These are the crazy antics that are Anvil, and they are clearly still having the time of their lives. Despite the time that has past, the musicianship shows very little signs of wear, unlike the age on the faces, and the thinning grey hair.
Steve "Lips" Kudlow is not the only madman on stage for this pioneering metal 3-piece. With his myriad of goofey faces, bass guitarist Chris Robertson is a lunatic in his own right, while drummer Robb Reiner played the complete set with a half smoked doobie hanging out of his mouth.
, whAs crazy as these guys are, they're great musicians first and foremost. In addition to Steve's opening series of guitar licks, we also witnessed the iconic Vibrator guitar solo towards the end of the set. If you have never seen Anvil, you may be wondering what that is exactly. I assure you, it's just as it sounds. Ahead of the solo, Lips pulls out a black vibrator, and uses it to play a guitar solo that is like none other you will ever see, or hear. As with his first solo, we again are joined in the crowd by the Anvil singer/guitarist, It's all out insanity as he again runs back and forth, gets down on his knees, gets up close and personal with the fans, and shreds his electric 6 strings with the electric "toy". Along with his screaming into the guitar pick ups, it's something as obscure as the band themselves, and it's such a cool spectacle!
In addition to Lips' insane guitar solos, we are also treated with a 5 minute drum solo from Robb Reiner. Robb is also a founding member of Anvil, as well as Steve Ludlow, and is one of the most influential drummers in the business. Yes, he is that good! And the crowd agrees with me. As they explode in a roar, I hear one fan yell out "Holy Shit!!" I thought the exact same thing!
I saw Anvil for the first time in 2019. While the theatrics here seemed a little more over the top than that gig, this is Anvil! In 2008, a documentary called "Anvil: The Story of Anvil" was released theatrically to some acclaim. This year sees a re-release of this gem, and it's available pretty much everywhere. As noted, Anvil is constantly touring, so your best bet is to catch these guys at your local venue. Being Canadian, they play tons of smaller towns (like Ajax), so it's not hard to find them at a live music location near you. If you are a metal fan, go check them out. You'll have a super fun evening. But if you've missed them this go around, check out their documentary. I'm certain it'll open your eyes and give you that "WOW" factor. Remember, these guys are from Toronto!
Your best bet? See them live AND see the documentary!!!