Turbonegro with Bad Wizard at Lee's Palace, September 19. Tickets: $15-$20. Attendance: 400. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The legend of Turbonegro's drug-enhanced dissolution had many Toronto fans convinced they'd never get a chance to see their manly Norwegian idols in the flesh. That would account for the whole Make-A-Wish Foundation vibe at a Lee's Palace packed tight with beaming rockers in jaunty sailor hats. Following a pleasantly hard-rocking set of background music provided by openers Bad Wizard , the "Turbs," as they're known to initiates, ambled onstage shortly after midnight, clad head to toe in denim. Bassist Happy Tom opted for his trademark nautical accessories, while guitarist Rune Rebellion favoured an honorary Maurice Gibb look and singer Hank Von Helvete went for some Alice Cooper-style eye makeup and a walking stick.
With an overhead twirl of Von Helvete's cane, Turbonegro tore into their first song, sending the awestruck assembly into a moshing frenzy. A thoughtful crowd-surfer pushed forward to the stage to hand Von Helvete a trucker cap that he stabbed with his stick and, without missing a beat, proudly placed on his sweaty head so everyone could see the slogan emblazoned on the front: "I Cock."
The heavy rock 'n' roll action never let up. The band played selections from Ass Cobra and onwards, threw cauldrons of fake blood onto the delighted horde and peppered their performance with between-song anecdotes about lecherous Quebecois border guards. Then they led the happily compliant crowd in a chant of "wide ass" at top volume.
Speeding through the set, the only element that kept the show from being deafeningly magnificent was the fact that Von Helvete's vocals were sometimes lost in the mix. No one seemed overly concerned. When the band left the stage for the first time, more than half the people there began shouting for Turbonegro's classic boner anthem, I Got Erection, and that lasted a good five minutes.
The Turbs dutifully returned to blast an encore of the aforementioned song, and followed it with a killer version of Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker, leaving no one in doubt that they had just witnessed Scandinavia's number-one death punk exports.