Helix @ Legendary Red Rooster, Burlington ON, March 27, 2010

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By Albert Mansour

Instead of going to the Immortal show in Toronto on Saturday, I opted instead to go check out Canadian hard rock/metal legends Helix instead. They were playing locally at the Legendary Red Rooster in Burlington for about 1/5 of the price of the Immortal gig and since I had never seen them but caught Immortal a few years back with Manowar I decided to go check them out.

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The opener starting off the night was a Toronto band by the name of Frankie Whyte & the Dead Idols. They were a completely generic band, cookie cutter boring. I was already bored during the first couple tracks of their set, and I didn’t like the way the female singer performed with somewhat Avril Lavigne-like vocals. Even though the band was actually pretty good, the vocalist was brutal.

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Second band on for the night Replica didn’t have much to say. The name of the band gives it away – they are a cover band. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name,” Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” were some of the eight or nine cover tunes on Replica set list. Just some of my own advice: it would be cool to slip some of their own material into the set too.

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Now the moment arrived and the crowd got what it wanted: some 80’s metal by Helix. As soon as the band came on to stage there were lots of fists up in the air, many singing along with each song – especially the females in the crowd. The volume was pretty blunt, but the overall sound was brilliant! Helix has been known in the metal scene since the mid 80’s and has over the years made some incredible tracks. They played a good chunk of them Saturday night and it made for one hell a perfect night. Checking out this band live is a must for any metal fan into the 80’s scene. The hits kept on rolling one after another. Great set list. As I get to see so many bands in concert, the one thing which caught my attention with Helix was their level of professionalism shown on stage. No sloppy guitar solos, no scratchy feedback in the speakers. Basically a flawless gig. Brian Vollmer did not avoid the higher or long notes – he sang the shit out of these songs and impressed the hell out of me doing so. I was very happy that Helix played a couple of tracks from each of their albums and weren’t just focusing only on their latest album Vagabond Bones – which by the way one is one of Helix’s best.

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After all of these years, Helix are still hammering out killer tracks one after another and did an amazing gig. It was just perfect – all the drumming, guitar work and vocals were remarkable. Brian Vollmer and Brent Doerner share the vocals on many of the tracks and look thrilled to be on stage together again. Quite an impressive set list for an hour and a half; the only thing I have to bitch about here is the poor lighting, which was supplied by the Red Rooster. On the right side of the stage the lighting was so dim you could barely see the guitarist and bassist from the back of the room. For a place bringing in national touring acts it has real shitty lighting. All in all, I am fulfilled after having attended the show.

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To wrap up the night, Helix did a meet and greet with the crowd that was a nice bonus. I had the opportunity to chat for a short moment with Brain Vollmer and to get all my vinyl, cd’s, cassettes and 7” picture sleeves signed by the band members. They were very good live, I highly recommend seeing them live if you have the chance. Here is the show’s set list, thanks to Brent Doerner:

Vagabond bones
Wild in the street
The Kids are all shakin’
The animal inside
Get up!
Go hard or go home
Heavy metal love
The storm
Running Wild in the 21st century
When the hammer falls
Make ‘em dance
Gimme gimme good lovin’
Dirty dog
Make me do (Anything you want)
Deep cuts the knife
Billy Oxygen
Heavy metal cowboy
Shoot full of love
Rock you

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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.