Metamorphosis, part two of a three-part concept, was released in 2020 by Ward XVI (pronounced Ward Sixteen), but only now have they been able to tour the album. They play the album in full chronologically, but a Ward XVI performance is not like many others, with the band being supported by two ‘actors’ who play various parts during the performance, as the story unfolds.
The biggest challenge for the band was to fit four band members and the numerous props onto the small stage, whilst allowing sufficient space for the actors to perform. Somehow, the band managed to commence the set with two wardrobe-like stage entrances, a bed, a cot, and a toy box as well as the usual band equipment and members.
All the band, and for the majority of the time, the actors too, were decked out in monochrome outfits, costumes and make-up, representing the inmates of Ward XVI, a ward in a mental hospital, based on the real life Whittingham Hospital in Preston that closed in 1995.
The band’s songs are a melting pot of styles with fairground music supplementing the metal, prog and doom. It sounds slightly bonkers, but works within the creativity of the concept. Psychoberrie takes the vocals, perched on a small area of the stage for much of the set, but she performs with accomplished aplomb, also doing her bit of thespian work, as the story unfolds. Doktor Von Stottenstein on guitar plays some evocative solos that complement the music well, with the solid rhythm section of Wolfy Huntsman on bass and Bam Bam Bedlam handling drumming duties.
We were entertained by eight foot tall puppets, a monster, a murder, the disposal of the body in a dustbin, various face masks, and some of the acted scenes taking place in the audience. This was a show, supplemented by well-crafted music telling the story. If you haven’t seen Ward XVI, I recommend that you do, and be prepared to be entertained and delighted by a fabulous spectacle.