Anvil Still Has It After 42 Years


Photos by David Rubene


Billy Bragg wasn’t the one legend I was able to cross off my bucketlist this week. I spent my Saturday night with the one and only Anvil. Yes, that Anvil. The one that the 2008 critically acclaimed documentary “Anvil! The Story Of Anvil” was all about. Having only ever seen the documentary and only ever heard their music and the insane stories that seem to follow this Canadian band around, I was beyond excited as I stepped foot into The Turf Club.

Getting the night started was Santa Cruz, CA based Archer Nation. Clearly younger than the members of Anvil, the older crowd seemed hesitant to give this opening band much, if any, of their energy. I was captivated by the guitar playing of Dylan Rose. He had this uncanny way of making complicated riffs look easy all while singing along in the most perfect way. It had to have been a couple of songs before I had a chance to actually take a look around me but, when I did, I realized that the older crowd had started to migrate closer to the stage. That says everything that needs to be said about Archer Nation. It’s their music, their sound, their unique style (yet clear nods to the great of the old school metal scene) that got everyone up, out of their seats, and moving closer to the stage. Their set was short and flew by on top of that so when their time was up and they were unloading the stage to make room for the next act, I was no alone in wishing they had just a little bit more time up there. This band has an extremely bright future if they keep it up. If you’re a fan of the old school metal scene but are looking for something new, I urge you to check this group out.

Stand-up comedian and all around metal lover Don Jamieson took the stage next. Does the name sound familiar? If you ever watched That Metal Show on VH1 Classics then there’s a reason– Don hosted that show. With a clear love for metal music and a knack for comedy, Don’s politically incorrect set had majority of the audience trying their best not to spill their beer as they laughed all the way through. Although some of the jokes were way over my head and others had me feeling a bit out of place as other people laughed and supported things such as Ted Nugent for president (dear lord please no), there was something super comfortable and fun about Don’s set. He honestly came off as a friend, not a famous comedian. As much as some of his jokes had me laughing to the point where it hurt, my favorite part of his set and Don as person was the way he was just hanging out before and after his set. There were clearly people in the audience who knew who Don was and looked up to the funnyman so watching the interactions between Don and the audience was definitely a highlight of the night for me.

Things moved quickly and in no time the one and only Anvil was taking the stage. You could feel a sense of royalty as they took the stage but it didn’t take long for that feeling to be switched to just being in awe of how clearly humble this band is. Within the first couple of seconds guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow had made his way from the stage down into the crowd where he proceeded to treat the excited audience to a stellar guitar solo. Starting off their set in this way definitely brought this sense of family to the show that would reign supreme throughout the rest of the night.

Eighteen albums. I mean, can you even imagine? Anvil has been putting out music since their debut album ‘Hard ‘n’ Heavy’ that came out back in 1981 (although the band formed in 1977). I wasn’t even a thought in my parents’ mind at that point! What’s crazier than the fact that this band has put out 18 albums since 1981 is the fact that guitarist/ vocalist Steve Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner have been in the band since the beginning. Truly impressive and a feat these days, this just goes to prove that this band is doing everything right even though some of their antics and stories seem more like something out of Spinal Tap rather than real life. Being able to see a band like this live is something I wish everyone could experience. They may not be the most popular band in the world or even a household name but they are Anvil and, in this scene, they are kings and have truly stood the test of time.

It was sixteen songs of pure nostalgia for the audience while it was sixteen songs of pure entertainment for me. Clearly one of the few people that hasn’t been listening to Anvil for years on years, I did feel a wee bit out of place as the older generation around me got their second wind for the day and were super involved in the set but it made me smile. Anvil isn’t my band so Saturday night’s show wasn’t my show but being lost in a sea of people who were reliving their youth and having the time of their life was almost better than going to see one of my favorite bands. It’s energizing and made a smile stretch across my face from ear to ear that never quite faded.

Anvil is one of those bands that I had just come to terms with the fact that I would never see them live. After Saturday night’s show I honestly can’t imagine how I ever talked myself into being okay with never seeing them. What a genuinely fun show from a genuinely amazing band.