Horror-punk legend Wednesday 13, supporting his latest album, Horrifier (read our review), brought his “Halfway to the Grave” tour to Club Academy in Manchester, and the hordes assembled to enjoy a full-on night of rock and roll debauchery.

The eclectic support acts came from far and wide to open the show. One from L.A., one from Bournemouth, and the other, a completely different planet.

LA’s Tarah Who? brought an authentic, gritty, and enthusiastic performance with a handful of hi-energy grunge-tinged rockers and was well received by the already half-full audience. It was clearly a significant moment for Tarah when they closed the set with a track she’d written about the Manchester Arena bombing at an Arielle Grande show in 2017.

The intergalactic collective Sick N’ Beautiful landed on stage next and played a set that brilliantly fused Rob Zombie-esque stomp with Alice Cooper theatrics and Lady Gaga vocals. It was an enjoyable mix of styles that landed well with the crowd and was visually incredible, meaning you couldn’t take your eyes off the stage but were never sure where to look at any one point as there was that much going on. They came across like a nice GWAR without any of the splooging of audience. Great fun!

Bournemouth’s South of Salem seems to be on every gig poster and festival line-up out there at the moment, and the hard work has clearly paid off with a great deal of the crowd being fans already, and as a band, they are tight with blistering solos, big choruses and twice the energy of bands half their age. They are definitely one of the most exciting British bands around at the moment, and you won’t be short of opportunities to see them, so make the effort next time they’re on at a venue near you.

Even with an early start and relatively short sets from each of the opening bands, it was 9.20 pm before the lights went down for the headliners.

Imagine you’re hurtling towards the gates of hell in a rusty old Chevrolet Jalopy, with the radio on full blast, five lunatics in the car with you and no seatbelt. You’re not driving, you’re not in control and you just have to enjoy the ride. That’s what a Wednesday 13 show feels like… and it’s great!

There were moments when they sounded just like primetime Earth vs-era Wildhearts, like on “Good Day to be a Bad Guy,” and others where there was more of an old-school metal vibe. With the lurching dirty riff of “Insides Out,” they sound like a band with a residency in Hell’s dirtiest dive bar, and there was also a moment when Wednesday had to tell a few members of the crowd to break it up and play nice. Throw in a drum solo that lifts the eerie theme track to The Exorcist to a whole new level and various other horror movie soundbites; you have the makings of a classic show.

With a couple of (Wednesday’s original band) Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13 ‘covers’ and a run-through Murderdolls stomper “Nowhere” in tribute to Joey Jordison, they bring yet another visit of the Rock n’ Horror Sideshow to a close – and we can’t wait for the next one.

Be sure to check out Wednesday 13 online: https://officialwednesday13.com.