LIVE (Retro): Metallica, WASP, & Armored Saint @ The Skyway Club, Scotia

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36 years ago tonight, the “Two outta three ain’t bad Tour”: Metallica, W.A.S.P. and Armored Saint at The Skyway Club in Scotia, NY.   Yes, Metallica played in Scotia once.

This was the first time Metallica (all 3 bands, actually) played the Albany area. For Metallica, this was the first US date of the ‘Ride the Lightning’ tour – this tour started the night before in Boston, but Lars Ulrich had some sort of passport problem and was sent back to Denmark, and legend has it that Cliff, James and Kirk just hung out in the Boston crowd and drank beers while WASP and Armored Saint played. But Lars made it to Scotia [legend has it he flew into Albany Airport at the last minute and had to be rushed out to Scotia], and Metallica played this gig.  WASP was originally intended to play last, but Ulrich’s lateness meant Metallica headlined.

Armored Saint was still actually wearing armor onstage back in these days, and were touring their great debut album, ‘March of the Saint’. Fantastic band. Still are, in fact.  They opened with the new LP title-track – still a classic decades later – and did all stuff from the first LP and a couple from their ep debut as well. They played many more times in the Albany area after this, at JB’s Theater in ‘86 and (mostly) Saratoga Winners in the years after. All hail Armored Saint.

WASP was sort of the odd men out on this tour – I’d gotten a Kerrang! Magazine the year before that had Blackie Lawless covered in blood on the cover, which looked cool, so I bought their debut 12” single on Music For Nations records on import: Fuck Like A Beast b/w Show No Mercy. It was ok, not bad, but I’d expected something more Venom-like. Around Xmas ’84 I got their self-titled debut and … meh. Sounded like typical LA-Motley Crue metal. But they were pretty popular back then, a lot of the crowd was there for WASP and thought Metallica to be noisy underground crap.  They dressed in leather costumes, and the stage show featured Blackie Lawless throwing out raw meat.  Not my thing, but many loved them, and still do.

Metallica, of course, were the gods of all gods in 1985. Even though they headlined, the set was shorter than you’d want – maybe an hour, only 1 encore, the then-new “Creeping Death” and no “Metal Militia”, “Motorbreath” or “Am I Evil?”, but there were few (if any) better bands on earth. This was one of two times they played with Cliff Burton in the Albany area before his death – this gig, and Glens Falls opening for Ozzy the next year. All hail Cliff.  

The set began with a blasting “Fight Fire With Fire”, and proceeded through “Ride The Lightning” – Hetfield welcomed the crowd to the “ride the vodka” tour and they continued with heroic versions of ‘Kill ‘em All’ anthems “Phantom Lord” and “Four Horsemen”, followed by a Cliff Burton bass solo.  Everyone expected “Whiplash” to follow, but the band instead went into “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.  A raging “No Remorse” was next, followed by an epic “Call of Ktulu”, the creeping, Lovecraftian instrumental which would soon after be dropped from the set in favor of “Fade to Black”.

The set finished with a couple of ‘Kill ‘em All’ favorites: “Seek & Destroy” and (finally) a thrashing “Whiplash”, and a quick encore of the then-new single “Creeping Death” concluded the gig.

This tour lasted until March, and believe it or not WASP actually headlined many of the dates – hard to fathom these days – while Metallica played last in the bigger cities, like Brooklyn where they headlined a three-night stand, and Chicago. On the west coast WASP dropped off the tour and it was just Metallica and Armored Saint, and Saint was so big in the LA area (their home) that Metallica opened those shows. It was a different time, and Metallica was not yet the stadium-filling deities they are now.  But a historic area show – in Scotia, of all places.  All hail the mighty Metallica, and Armored Saint.

Armored Saint’s setlist:
1. March of the Saint
2. Mutiny on the World
3. False Alarm
4. On the Way
5. Stricken by Fate
6. Can U Deliver
7. Seducer
8. Lesson Well Learned
9. Mad House

WASP’s setlist:
1. On Your Knees
2. The Flame
3. Hellion
4. Love Machine
5. Sleeping In The Fire
6. School Daze
7. The Torture Never Stops
8. Animal (I Fuck Like A Beast)
9. I Wanna Be Somebody

Metallica’s setlist:
1. Intro – The Ecstasy of Gold
2. Fight Fire With Fire
3. Ride the Lightning
4. Phantom Lord
5. Four Horsemen
6. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
7. For Whom the Bell Tolls
8. No Remorse
9. The Call of Ktulu
10. Seek & Destroy
11. Whiplash
12. Creeping Death

Photo Gallery of 1/15/1985 Show
by Wayne William Archibald

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