(with guest Cameljoe)
Where: Rockpile, Toronto
When: July 23, 2016
On Saturday July 23, 2016 Canadian metal-masters Phear took the stage with a mission; to present an arena quality show that would leave the audience breathless, beaten and spent by the sheer force of their performance and spectacular stage show. Did they succeed?
Phear is lead by Pat Mulock, a vocalist whose pipes evoke the greatness and styles of the legends of metal including the likes of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and King Diamond. Mulock is a veteran of the metal wars who had ‘retired’ from the scene in the middle part of the last decade due to family commitments. In summer 2015 he came roaring back with a new band, Phear, and an amazing album, “Insanitarium” featuring former Rampage band mates Tyson Emanuel (guitar) and Chris Lewis (drums) with additions Graham Stirrett (guitar) and Chris Boshis (bass) completing the lineup.
The album is a near perfect mix of traditional, thrash and power metal with soaring vocal melodies, ferocious bottom end and spectacular fretwork behind intelligently written lyrics weaving narratives of light and dark, tribulation and victory. Mulock has stated on more than one occasion that a Phear show has to be a special event and the audience deserves to be treated to an arena quality experience complete with amazing lighting and lasers.
Visually Phear displays a post-apocalyptic vibe worthy of something one might expect were they the house band at Mad Max’s Thunderdome. Their look is replete with much leather, studs, and in the case of guitarist Emanuel, demonic, red contact lenses. The result is phearful indeed, bringing to mind what Lucifer himself might look like should he wield a 7-string guitar in spiritual battle. On the other hand guitarist Graham Stirrett looks positively cherubic striking an interesting contrast in light and dark while bassist Boshis has perfected an evil glower worthy of a self-respecting serial killer. Behind the drums Lewis relentlessly drives the show sporting a close shaved mohawk.
The bulk of the evening’s set was taken from last year’s spectacular release including my favourite Phear track, “Until You Die” which they had never played live before this show. Another definite highlight was a faithful, fifteen minute rendition of Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that was technically flawless and showed Mulock’s pipes to be every bit as powerful as Dickenson’s. The show closed with their album’s killer opening track, “Regan’s Dream” bringing the near two-hour set to a close.
Toronto’s Cameljoe opened the evening with a spirited set featuring tracks from their “East of Middle Peace” release along with some fine covers. The highlight for me was their cover of Disturbed’s awesome rendition of the classic Genesis song “Land of Confusion” .
Overall this was an excellent show with Phear blending superior musicianship, stage presence and performance to create a truly memorable experience for the fans.
As stated above, Mulock’s intent when playing live is to bring an arena quality show to the table and leave nothing in the tank. By all accounts and purposes Phear succeeded mightily.
Reverend Rock’s Rating: 9/10
Phear on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phearband/?fref=ts
All Photos by Phoenix Camerah
Reverend Rock is host of Too Metal For Church on Monday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. EDT and Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT exclusively on Metal Nation Radio