Hail to Manowar the Manowar family, brother and sisters around the world.
Having taken inspiration from a previous Manowarrior story told by my good friend Elvis I thought id put the proverbial pen to paper and share my own.
My name is Matt Verrell and it started way back in 1987 a good friend at school said he had a killer vinyl from and I quote “ The loudest band in the f@#king world” and would I like to borrow it, well it was a no brainer, of course I wanted to borrow it to see what kind of music could make such a grand claim, well as soon as that needle dropped into the groove all Hell broke loose in my bedroom, my world, inside my head sensations I had never known with music were awakening from the very first thunderous beats of Scott’s drums, I knew I had found “my” band and that band was Manowar, the album was fighting the world and I was 13 and the newest member in the Army of immortals.
After I had to reluctantly give the LP back I was on a quest to find this magic circle for myself, the trouble was my local town was not exactly coming forward with metal music shops, just the generic music shops selling the latest drivel, but my persistence paid off, although it wasn’t FTW I had a new tape (ask your grandads) to listen too, and what a aptly named tape it was too, Hail to England !!
This tape unleashed the desire for more and more, my metal path lay ahead and great adventures lay ahead.
I first saw the band in 1989 at the Hammersmith Odeon Kings of Metal tour, this was not just my first Manowar show, but my first ever live show by any band, and boy did Manowar lay down a marker that no one else has come close to since, I couldn’t believe the wall of speakers that was in front of me, my most vivid memory of the night is putting my hands in the air and feeling the kick of the bass and the sensation of the air moving around me, and I was about 15 rows back! My ears were ringing the next day at school, but i was proudly wearing my kings of metal tour shirt under my white school shirt, visible for all to see and teachers to scorn at.
These were the days pre computer and internet ( for me anyway ) so a wait ensued until the next gig at the London Marquee club, for anyone who doesn’t know, this is ( sadly now, was ) a legendary club, small, very small, but as I was to find out perfect for the up close, front row, stood in front of Joey, hard not to bump into him whilst standing there type show, I had my trusty 110 Kodak camera and took some good snaps from that gig, and are still treasured by me to this day, I was one of the first in line out the front and was ecstatic to meet Eric, Joey, Rhino and the Death dealer and get my cd ( ask your dad ) signed by them and a couple of pictures, such down to earth guys, you know, you dream of meeting your idols, your best band and don’t know what to expect, but 4 very polite, humble and friendly guys met me.
The scene in the UK went quite on the Manowar front after this tour, and again without having access to computers etc the band went off the radar for me live wise, that was until I got my first computer, I think one of the first things I did was type Manowar into the search bar… BOOM I discovered the WWWW ( World Wide Web Warriors ) that then turned into the House of Death where I am known as “ TourEngland “ for reasons that escape me currently.
This website put me in touch with fans all around the world, those fans some became friends, and after a announcement that a fan convention would happen at a show in Germany it was the easiest decision I’ve made, lets book tickets to Geiselwind… AKA The Earthshaker concert and fan convention.
What a momentous weekend that turned out to be, a weekend where friends I had meet online via the HOD all of a sudden became family, a weekend spent partying, talking, drinking, eating all with the best guys and girls in the world, Manowar fans. I was lucky enough to get to see Eric talk about his upcoming hunting dvd, also see Ross blasting out classic Manowar riffs in a small room with some other folk, listening to tales of life on the road from some of the old crew such as “The Arm” and Paul Clark Snr ( whom over the years has become a close and dear friend ) I just loved it, putting faces to the names you used to read in the album covers, Tayna Seeman ( who designs the leathers ) and the gentle giant of Genies that was Dawk, I just lapped up all of those stories and tales.
I was fortunate enough to win a competition to have my photo taken on the stage in the convention hall with all the band past and present, in fact I won 3 tickets, and gave 2 away to some people I was stood next to at the time.
The concert itself lived up to its name of Earthshaker.. Mind blown well and truly, when those drum risers came up during battle hymns and all members were on stage at once I felt invincible, I’m sure a touch of the berserker rage surged through my body for a few of those most glorious moments.
I have tried to attend at least one show of most of the tours since, and attend MCF 2 & 3, MCF 2 was again a congregation, a gathering, a mergence of close brothers and sisters, and a chance to meet new ones, the Manowar family spirit was alive within me and those 6 albums back to back were just mind blowing to witness live.
I have the Sign of the hammer tattooed onto my forearm, and then I bit the bullet and got my entire back done with the Triumph of steel artwork and Manowar logo, ouch, but manowarrior for life.
So I think I’ve explained my self quite a bit now, oh hold on.. yes I almost forgot…. TourEngland !!
I have probably badgered every member of the manowar crew I had the privilege to meet over the years to get them to come back to the UK, back to England, back “home”. I’m sure if you go on the HOD site 50% of my old posts were related to that topic, probably drove the admin bonkers with it, well I finally got my wish, the year was 2011 and the car was heading north, north to Birmingham.
That concert along with Earthshaker is up there as my best Manowar live show, front row, centre stage, surrounded by my family who knew that this was what I’d been banging on about for all those years, the emotion that flowed through me that night was immense, I’m not afraid to say I shed a tear during Hail to England and embraced all those around me.
I have a saying, something that’s come to me over the years, a Manowar show is more than just “the” show, it’s the whole experience, its about meeting up with family the night before, maybe for a curry at the Moonlight in Birmingham, maybe at the bar at the Linder hotel Frankfurt, maybe for a truck load of beer around Katja’s breakfast table in Bad Arolsen talking the night away, its about being with family, living life for the now and the Manowar show is the cherry on top of the cake.
I also have the Manocave collection, some goodies and collectables I have amassed over the years proudly displayed on the walls, the Manocave is my space to reflect, reminisce and recharge my batteries although my two girls enjoy coming in to head bang along to what ever dad has blasting through the speakers.
Personal Manowar highlights that stick out:
Meeting the 4 guys outside the Marquee gig
Seeing them soundcheck Hail To England at Leeds in 2011, Eric saw me and asked me to sing for him as I know the words better than him.. I declined
Joey handing me the last Bass string at the 2011 Birmingham show
MCF 2 and 3
Seeing my name on the inside of a CD booklet
Meeting everyone I know and love and call family, you are the best and make each show that bot special.
On reflection Manowar has played a major part of my life, its been there through the good and the bad, its made me the person I am today and given me a whole new family all over the world, I would like to thank the band from the bottom of my heart and say their music is just the tip of iceberg, the gift they give is far reaching and probably cannot be put into words, whilst sober at least.
So that’s me, come and say hi at the next show, ill probably be at the bar before and after with my “TourEngland” campaign flag wrapped around me, you’ll see me, the deaf one with a stupidly huge grin etched all across his face