Dark Mat EU (me, Markus/Darkguy on the board and my brother, Patrick/Sucio on the board) attended Fozzy's first concert in Vienna, Austria last night. The venue they played (Szene Wien) is one of Vienna's smaller ones, so attendance was probably around 250. Fozzy was the semi-headliner on this tour, which also included Soil (headliner) and originally Breed 77. Breed had to leave the tour early, because something came up with money and they could not afford hotel rooms, etc., so Vienna last night and Zürich tonight will feature Fozzy and Soil only.
As is the case with most Fozzy concerts, they also offered VIP packages, that included a ticket to the show, a dinner/meet and greet with the band, photo ops and access to the pre-show soundcheck. These packages
cost 160 euros (around $210) a piece and since the both of us are both big, big Fozzy and Jericho/wrestling fans, we bit the bullet and got the full-out experience.
Unfortunately, Fozzy currently are burdened with the world's worst bus driver on this tour and traffic also wasn't that light, driving over from playing in Frankfurt, Germany the night before, so what should have been about a 7.5 hour drive turned into 15 hours. They were all somewhat pissed at the fact, since most had planned on checking out our beautiful city of Vienna ith it's various sights and Christas markets in the afternoon. Despite all of this, everybody in the band was totally professional and super-friendly, joked around and talked to us as if we'd all been friends for years.
There were four of us who purchased the package, the two of us, a girl who was mainly a big music and major Jericho fan and another girl who turned out to be about one of the coolest girls (and persons!) I ever met, and belongs to a species I didn't know to actually exist: big Fozzy/metal fan, big wrestling fan (with even an interest in MMA), beer-loving, down to earth and on top of that not looking like a cave troll (and if she reads this, that what supposed to come out as a compliment). Suffice to say, our merry little group had loads of fun and got along great right from the start.
VIP management also helped us bond right away, as we were just left us out in the cold (outside temperatures were around 23 F/-5°C) for about 40 minutes after the first short greeting by Todd, our VIP contact. He
came out from time to time and apologized, telling us they were running on a late schedule because of the delay in transportation and things would start "soon". We made the best of it, talked, joked around and tried to figure out the access code for the tour bus and not freeze to death in the meantime. After a while, we discovered the door to the venue was actually open, so we decided to at least spend the rest of our waiting period in the heated foyer of the venue.
Then finally things started happening and we got to meet the band and enter catering. Jericho was talking to somebody as we entered but greeted us warmly in passing. The rest of Fozzy entered catering shortly after us and started chatting to us right away. We sat down and ate (Jericho joined us shortly afterwards), talked about Vienna and the tour thus far, music, wrestling (with Jericho interestingly repeating Lance Storm's argument from a while back that wrestling could actually be an Olympic sport in the way that gymnastics or figure skating are: people working together and the best worked match winning). Jericho also briefly talked about his time in Europe and how he especially loved Hamburg, since whenever he had a day off, there were some of his favorite bands playing basically across the street. I also really enjoyed talking to Paul, Fozzy's bass player whose wife actually has Austrian roots, a fact we discussed pretty in-depth.
After finishing dinner it was time to get the stuff we brought signed and take pictures. I had Jericho sign his two books (he asked which one I liked better and I told him the first one, because I just loved his world-traveling stories). Sadly, he refused to sign one of Mick Foley's books (I asked if he could put in that Foley had nevr beaten him in a match), arguing that if he did, he was afraid Foley might one day beat him over the head with it.
Then it was photo-op time and everybody posed like the rock superstars and Fozzy marks that we (respectively) were. Since I had beforehand decided that the Bella Twins being on the F4WOnline.com front-page for any length of time was a no-go, a Figure Four Weekly mock-up was created before the show, touting the rocking of Vienna by Fozzy, while gently implying that Lance Storm was currently doing no such thing. Jericho agreed to pose with it and the result is attached to this report.
After that, we were dismissed for the time being and decided to use the opportunity of being alone in the venue to shill out some more money and get some sweet Fozzy merch from the yet unoccupied merch table. After
all, hungry mouths need to be fed, and Lady Gaga must be destroyed (plus it's winter and everybody should have a Fozzy hoodie when it's getting cold)!
So back out to the Foyer we went, chatted and rolled our eyes at some of the people already arriving, talking of the greatness of some Sheamus chairshots and other nonsense that may or may not have happened at the
last, way too-long episode of RAW, that was lacking a neat Fozzy soundtrack and one Mr. Jericho coming back to save this trainwreck of a weekly episodic television show.
Todd, our VIP contact then came out once more and invited us to join the band's sound-check (which they somehow managed to still squeeze into the tight schedule of the evening), to the envy of everybody else around us who couldn't quite figure out why we were being allowed in while they weren't - ah, the magic of being a V.I. F'n P.!
Sound check also was fun and a very unique experience, especially when contrasting it (everybody casually dressed, calm, professional, goofing around with the mics, etc.) to the eventual concert later.
So we enjoyed our little personal mini-concert and took some more pictures. After stepping out again, it was time for the first beer of the night and a little more waiting (we were getting pretty good at that by the time).
Sadly the guys at the venue screwed up and didn't open the door we were standing by but another one, robbing us of our well-deserved spots in the first row. We settled for second and opted just to take first row when we deemed fit to do so.
Finally the lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, Have a Drink on Me by AC/DC hit and Fozzy entered the stage. A few seconds later, the Ayatollah of Rock'n'Rollah himself materialized and did what only he can do, and what most band-leaders and pro wrestlers lack these days: total control of the crowd with every motion, look and gesture, directing them to do exactly what he wanted them to and having them eat out of the palm of his hand and just being too damn froot (look it up in his books, guys and girls) to really show that he cared much about it, because he is Chris Jericho and these things just come natural to him.
They opened up their set with Spider in my Mouth, the opening track of their current album "Sin and Bones" and the place basically exploded. They followed that with their current Single Sandpaper and then went back in time to their roots as mostly a cover band (remember Fozzy Osbourne?) with a cover of Krokus' Eat the Rich. Then came songs such as She's my Addiction, To Kill a Stranger and Enemy before they finished
the set off, way too early after about an hour on stage, with Blood Happens. By that time I had virtually headbanged my neck off and was drenched in sweat, had shot more than 70 pictures and was looking forward to my next Fozzy concert, which I somehow hoped could be right on the next day. Sadly, flights from Vienna to Zürich are pretty expensive, when you want book them the night before, so I'm putting all my hopes in the upcoming summer festival line-ups.
Besides being a wrestling fan for more than 20 years, I've also been a big metalhead for the greater part of the last two decades. I've attended probably a few hundred concerts and festivals all over Austria and Europe and have seen probably most of "name" acts (and lots and lots of smaller, more underground bands) of that period on stage during this period. With that being said, Fozzy as a live band blow most, if not all of these bands out of the water with their stage-performance. Jericho, as a big metal fan himself, also greatly profits from his 20+ years of experience as a performer and entertainer in the ring. He is just such a show-off on stage, with his sunglasses, sleeveless shirt and rock star mentality. He really draws the audience into his world, runs around,poses, jumps off the drumset-podest, points at the crowd, interacts with the other band members, hoists up the mic-stand, slaps hand with fans and has an all-around great time. The rest of the band are just as professional, never miss a beat and you can just feel that they all love performing on stage and are really experienced and well-rounded musicians. Rich "The Duke" Ward is an awesome and wildly entertaining
guitar hero and backup vocalist, Paul Di Leo is just a beast on the bass, Billy Grey on the second guitar is a real speed machine and Frank Fontsere holds the whole thing together on a rhythmic level with his
awesome drum play.
After Fozzy, Soil played and we watched them with a kind of admiration and pity - yeah, they had their fans and those reacted to their various hits, but it just wasn't Fozzy playing there on the stage and at no point did they get the reactions or had the control of the crowd that their preceding act had.
At various points after the concert we briefly met Rich, Paul and Billy who all were very appreciative of our kind words and Billy told us they had plans for the festival summer and hoped they'd be back soon.
My recommendation: If Fozzy plays anywhere near you or near enough we're you'd consider to go see them: Stop considering and just go, they are both an awesome live act and have come into their own during the last few albums, created a unique sound and will just rock your head off. If you can afford it, also get the VIP package, as the band really is very down to earth, approachable and friendly and treats its fans first class.
On a side note, we decided to close the evening out with a few more drinks and took a cab to a well known hard rock/metal establishment in town - and managed to get the one driver in Vienna who actually knew his way around town AND started talking about Fedor Emelianenko and Junior Dos Santos plus had actually trained MMA for a while.