It’s become an expected tradition that Wednesday 13 and crew make it over to us every year or two – they have a dedicated fan base, and the Undead Unplugged acoustic tour proves which of them are the diehards. It turns out in Melbourne tonight, there’s a lot of them. Wednesday 13 could announce a live rendition of the weird and wonderful ‘puppet show’, Weirdo A-Go-Go and everyone will still turn up.
The stage is set in the Corner Hotel where Wednesday 13 haunted just last year. Local rock band Cicadastone warm up the crowd for the Melbourne-leg of the tour. They’re on acoustics too, so it’s hard for first-time listeners to grasp their full sound, but lead vocalist Mat Robins has a great voice, and everyone’s happy to nod along. They play through singles, ‘Chance Collide’, ‘Forgotten Fears’, and ‘Oh Satellite’ which are well received.
The venue isn’t as full as it usually is for a Wednesday 13 gig this far into a support act, and it’s looking like the acoustic stint for Aussie metalheads wasn’t the greatest idea. With two minutes past the expected arrival, there’s still gaps in the crowd. ‘Undead’ plays through the speakers, and soon Wednesday 13 is on stage setting his guitar on his lap, joined by guitarist Roman Surman who the crowd are more than familiar with. Although we expected Wednesday 13 to croon through a Bourbon Crow set with good mate and former W13 bass player Rayan Belchere, we’re given what Wednesday has to offer us straight up.
In his everyday clothes and a black cowboy hat, Wednesday speaks ‘Blood Fades To Black’, a song usually booming from the speakers to introduce the full band as they take the stage in darkness. Tonight the stage is well-lit, and Wednesday is almost bare-faced, giving fans a chance to see him without his stage clothes, without a full band, and without even a backdrop.
People have filled in quick, seemingly from nowhere. The song fades out and Wednesday 13 explains the rules of the night: “When I’m talking, don’t talk. I turned 40 last year; I’m deaf, and your accents are very strong.” What follows is a two-hour set of comical stories wedged between acoustic tracks from Wednesday’s extensive catalogue. They play through ‘God Is A Lie’ and we immediately hear the diversity to Wednesday’s voice.
While Wednesday has spoken about the vulnerability that comes with such a stripped-back show, after telling the first tale about punching a ‘fan’ in Romania, Wednesday settles into himself. He’s humble and funny, and does well at executing his tales. For long-time fans, they’ll know Roman is a natural talker full of quick-witted jokes, but the spotlight is only on Wednesday tonight.
Another question gives Wednesday the opportunity to quash rumours others have spun over and over again about a Murderdolls reunion. “I haven’t spoken to Joey [Jordison] in 7 years. April 2011 was the last Murderdolls show and the last time anyone spoke to Joey.” An enthusiastic fan offers an Aussie initiation and asks Wednesday to do a ‘shoie’ with him, but after Roman fills in the details, Wednesday quickly declines, giving us instead a rock ‘n’ roll story about him and good friend Randy Blythe [Lamb of God].
‘Home Sweet Homicide’ gets people bopping around and easing more into the acoustic set, and everyone sings louder and louder on Wednesday’s command. A song intended to shine light on justice, ‘OJ Did It’ brings out the first lighter of the night, and Wednesday promises us it’ll still be stuck in our heads next week (it still is).
After he reveals just how Murderdolls got their now-classic ‘Welcome To The Strange’ on the Freddy vs Jason soundtrack, Wednesday treats the crowd with an acoustic cover, but it just can’t quite compare to the original. He tells us about having to apologise to Iron Maiden’s 42-man crew as well as Iron Maiden themselves. And then the narrative quickly switches with the track, ‘My Demise’, a song from 2008’s Skeletons never before played until these Unplugged shows. The crowd refuses to follow the self-depreciating chorus – until Wednesday demands it. With the last line the crowd are shouting back as Wednesday puts his full voice and emotion in to it.
While an acoustic setting translates perfectly for songs like ‘Ghost Stories’ and ‘Scary Song’, tonight they’re replaced by ‘I Love Watching You Die’ and the Murderdolls track ‘Summertime Suicide’, injecting us with a sombre vibe. In fact, the whole set deviates from 2014’s Undead Unplugged, but perhaps the makeup and theatrics would do better for the scary songs.
Wednesday takes more questions but everything’s pretty tame considering the did-you-really-just-ask-that questions that have been flung to him in other countries. The crowd ask what Wednesday’s favourite band was as a kid, his favourite tour ever, his favourite Aussie tour ever, and of course the “I just fucking love you” from a heartfelt dude – and this all coming from the Aussies who Wednesday declares say the word ‘cunt’ the best.
‘I Walked With A Zombie’ gets everyone clapping along; we hear the James Brown story first-hand that’s already gone around the internet after the U.K. and US Unplugged tours, and then the classic Murderdolls’ ‘Love At First Fright’ is veiled as a legit love song serenade with Wednesday’s stone-face and steady voice.
We’re then given what Wednesday calls “the dumbest song Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 have ever written”, but we could all argue that there are many of them (albeit comical masterpieces) that came out of that horror punk project. It’s ‘R.A.M.B.O.’ this time, but without Wednesday’s toy machine gun, signature screams and full band, it’s a bit lacklustre, but we find fun in it all the same. The theme continues with crowd pleaser, ‘Bad Things’ where fans are chanting, singing and fist pumping before Wednesday has even gotten to the second line. It’s the song that Wednesday gets into the most, stamping his foot, smiling and unleashing more of his voice into it. We thought we’d already been given the best of the night, but Wednesday gives us “the best one” to close, none other than ‘I Love To Say Fuck’.
Even without hard-hitting drums, deep bass and theatrics, the acoustic session is a stripped back Wednesday 13 in the very best way. Wednesday tells us he’ll see us again soon, and we know to believe him with a new record on the way. There are no shadows to hide behind as he exits back stage. Roman makes a paper plane out of the set list, as fans watch in anticipation which direction it’ll shoot in. The curtains close.