Dilemma: RAVEN play this concert with admittedly just slightly ill guitarist Mark Gallagher.
Tour stop: RAVEN – September 18th 2013 @ St Vitus venue, @ Manhattan Ave. and cross street, Clay; the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York City.
Where next?: RAVEN – “Rock till you drop world tour” – (next stop is in New Jersey, Raven drum basher Joe Hasselvander said, and Long Island soon (among many others) if you missed the Metal mastery of the three Raven brudders right here in this hearty street-backbar in the city! Two in Raven are related – John/ Bassist and Mark/Guitarist; Gallagher. And if you see ’em again it will be a real good one I suppose, but New York City was treated to something off-the-cuff and audacious on this particular evening out.
Everything Raven(ous): Their Ravenlunatics website is glorious, and will fill you all in on everywhere they will be laying it down, henceforth.
The Story of Raven 9/18-9/19’s small hours:
Mark Gallagher, after his athletically rockin’ guitar solo, bounded offstage – like a bull stampeding – as he was pale since arriving with the band after 10pm the night of 9/18/2013. Raven ruled the roost to spread out throughout the whole room with an elite entourage of their own making to turn the St. Vitus dressing room into their own clubhouse for about 4 1/2 hours.
Mark, white as a sheet earlier in the night was healed and re-energized by the sheer volume, guitar ultrasonics, and riffing away as ‘Live At The Inferno’ Into The Jaws of death’ Hard Ride and well well over an hour’s worth of stone cold Heavy Metal by U.K.-bred RAVEN brought the house full of Metalheads to the point of frozen, frenzied exhilaration by show’s end. Fists, Metal horns, sing alongs, lyric singing, chants & other crowd vocal exhortations could be seen done by many in attendance who had paid to journey beyond the literally speaking, actual black curtain of the St. Vitus performance room entrance into the main area. Raven ruled these urban city ruins on this early Fall 2013 clear nite. They knew they had knocked everyone for six by the last squall of feedback, and choice words by lead throat, Bassist (that’s what his black t-shirt said matter-of-factly too. It read Bassist with a pic of a bull with horns(?) It seems fitting that Joe Hasselvander quipped, as we all mulled about earlier, that if you play rock ‘n’ roll that you don’t have to grow up – or something very much akin to this sentiment.
Raven factoid: Mark ( as well as Joe and brother John) are man mountains, meaning that they are all well and truly taller than the average six-footer guys. Forget height though as Mark, though, is the mad one, in the fiercest coolest sense of the word. The perennial rough and ready type, even if you’ve just met each other for the first time. Mark is the driving passionate force of the trio; I’d say, anyway.
Earlier; in the dressing room before the show Mark Gallagher had doubts if he could do the gig successfully, though.
Yours truly, (me), recited some inspiring words as Mark had already donned his hockey-like garb on his legs and part of his thighs that reminded of WASP’s Blackie Lawless in an abstract kind of way. Mark’s arms were wrapped in black bands of a style all its own.
Mark is built for battle. It is in both his personality and his attack. His guitars are warships, one of which has weathered the storms of world touring since 1980 and armed with it he ascended the stairs of the dressing room, mentally building himself strong for the stage that bore the logo RAVEN – blue in all it’s metallic glory. I was the last man, save Mark, out of the prepping/equipment room in the basement with me, me being as a special guest there to join my RAVEN friends hanging out – a lifetime of Rock credentials intact. (Cause for celebration myself had been my latest solo album coming out as sweet sweet serendipity on my fave guitarist RUSH Al Lifeson’s 60th birthday ’bout a week before – “The Essence Of Grace” LP to be found easily on Itunes, Google Play, etc. but here this night to do the Rich Castle Presents show and hours of talking heavy music with much laughing with fellow musician cronies. John Gallagher even heard a rough mix of my current EVERY SATURDAY band with a special package upcoming to quip “oh – Keith Emerson?”, John Gallagher of Raven liking the Prog goings on by his focused listening expression. It was shortly after he was all packed up and relieved to be intact with the unbelievably played Raven gig in the so-called can.
All of our small gathering was in a jovial New York state of mind in anticipation of Raven’s gig, moving back beforehand again to the earlier goings on. Even Mark, sick as he appeared, quipped to me while working diligently, how much he enjoyed stringing his guitar (using custom gauge Ernie Ball guitar strings, as I do).
Showtime!: Enter stage left. Mark stood behind me but wasn’t ready to go out. Lifelong musicians instinctively connect with each other on some astral level, I think, as I thought it best to let the door close behind me to leave Mark Gallagher to finally be alone with his thoughts. As the door to the performance venue dressing room closed behind me, I saw from my peripheral sideways hindsight angle, Mark slumped down in a heap at the top of the stairs. No one else saw this. It would be a dramatic few before Mark emerged to begin his brisk walk to the stage for, as fellow NWOBHMers’ SAXON said on their 1984 “Crusader” – Come on Crusader / let battle commence/(roar of the minions heard), could almost be heard playing somewhere in the ether. On his way to play, Mark Gallagher of Raven bounded like a giant warrior and only a petite blond broke his stride. He put his hand gently – and oh so briefly -on her, in a peaceful but obvious very masculine gesture and climbed the stage platform a good few yards more to go, looking for all the world like a Heavy Metal Spartacus stepping into the gladiator’s arena. The aforementioned blonde was simply in his singular path. Mark is a man driven. With a mission of Metal. And he was primed and ready for action. KISS-sorta like boots to the Raven lightning bolt on his muscular abdomen showed him off as the band’s focal point. His pedalboard for special sounds and effects was lit up and the show began without delay.
John shrieked and sang exclusively into his trademark headset microphone worn for maximum mobility yet at this particular gig John Gallagher dared not move from his spot too far. Some gooey, never-identified substance on the stage floor was limiting movement. No one knew what the offending glop was but it covered the surface of the stage yet it wouldn’t detract from the performance. Our trio of heroes that comprise Raven couldn’t wouldn’t and didn’t let it. Mark pulled insane faces using every muscle on his countenance, in rapt concentration. He echoed the banshee wailing of his bro, John – at times throughout – who was clinically deconstructing the place with a customized red Bass guitar of his own that was duly battle-ready, as well, and capable of insidious/bombastically booming tone replete (saved) by nice melody. John did a bass solo to end all bass solos. Joe, the team player opted not to. Though Joe Hasselvander bashed and crashed with the might of Thor’s hammer, following every chord change like Neil Peart, of Rush reknown, on steroids. From 12 studio albums, two special live ones, and outstanding anthemic EPs, as well as the newest RAVEN multi-hour DVD detailing their careful Full Metal takeover of Planet Earth ( soon New Zealand will experience Raven); Raven blazed through each and every number they performed.
Joined by band Cactus‘ frontman Jimmy Kunes, ‘Born To Be Wild’ was exhumed as yet another Raven showstopper as a Black Sabbath tune helped also to form the integral part of the final encore medley. The crowd could not believe how RAVEN was treating New York City, a mecca of busy commerce and a rich musical tapestry, to set surprises rarely heard by these original New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Speed Metal-inventing stalwarts with a career spanning 30-years.
Recommended Raven albums: Architect Of Fear (Joe Hasselvander on drums), All For One ( with ex-drummer Wacko), Glow (ballads on this disc – John can sing wonderfully). And I can’t leave out mentioning the new century’s beginning volley, Raven’s aptly-titled One For All.
Everyone was shell shocked by Raven’s surprise impromptu set of everything true fans of the band clamor for. And Mark Gallagher, quintessential tough guy guitar hero marched out when it was all over into the relative calm of a mid -September night’s cool air. Victorious. Unperturbed.
His guitar did all the talking and said everything right.
One last look up at the full moon amidst grey, wispy clouds on 9/18/2013 told the tale of pure and unadulterated Metal Conquest here tonight, in Brooklyn.
RAVEN had now played this St. Vitus gig twice this very year of 2013. The first time was in April.
9/18/2013 in Brooklyn in the pm belonged to the humble yet determined – and every bit fit to be called ‘ Rock Stars’, Raven.
RAVEN. Remember their name. They ain’t bad at breaking the chain.
“Long live Rock n Roll” -sang R.J. Dio, right? So are you sitting at home watching TV on too many occasions in a week? Go spend a night out and improve your happiness. Catch RAVEN.
This raven doesn’t refuse to sing.
– Rich Castle