He did it. Almost 40 years after the release of debut album Keep the Dogs Away, rock/metal legend Thor finally fulfilled a personal quest to perform the entire album on stage in the Big Apple as part of his “Hard Rock Odyssey” mini-tour. After a career of ups, downs and reinventions spanning 5 decades, the man, the myth, the demigod was there at the Highline Ballroom in all his armor plated, hammer wielding glory and seemed to be loving every minute of the roughly two-hour extravaganza of music, props, strongman demonstrations and other metallic oddities.
It was a jovial, perpetually beaming God of Thunder who regaled the crowd with tales of past adventures and how happy he was to be presenting the Keep the Dogs Away album live to commemorate it’s 40th anniversary re-release via Cleopatra Records. Considering the album was entirely based in 70s hard rock the material sounded surprisingly “metal” in a live setting. In fact it was like a heavier Rocky Horror Picture Show, especially during the title track, “Military Matters” and album closer, “Thunder.”
The show’s second segment featured a sword swallowing strongman performance by a leather-clad Viking fellow named Titano, and this eventually spilled into an onstage dust up between he, a large yeti monster, an evil Wizard clad in a Mexican lucha libre mask and the Thunder God himself. The sheer number of props onstage at any given moment made a Carrot Top show look like the Vagina Monologues and there was no shortage of bizarre moments amid the rocking and flexing.
The show’s closing segment was where Thor unveiled the big hits of his long career, with gems like “Let the Blood Run Red” and “Anger is My Middle Name.” For the former he was joined onstage by the band who originally performed on the classic Only the Strong album and the nostalgia factor was high indeed. The only sour note was the exclusion of their calling card song “Thunder on the Tundra,” which is akin to Iron Maiden skipping “The Trooper.”
For an event billed as a “Hard Rock Odyssey” it lived up to the title and the crowd was entertained, amused and at times even a bit overwhelmed. Thor remains an obscure act in the annals of metal, but how can you not root for him? You certainly have to give the man credit for his perseverance and unflagging dedication to metal. 40 years in the game and still going. If you haven’t seen his I Am Thor documentary, do so immediately. All hail Thor!