Never say never. With
the exception of their show on New Year’s Eve 2009, and the release of THE HEX
IS ON…AND THEN SOME in November of 2011, things remained quiet in the WITCH
camp for nearly four years. There had
been talk of a reunion show during those years, although nothing ever moved
into the planning stages, and the band members remained in touch despite the
fact that Jim and Punky were in California,
Ronny in Idaho, and Peter in Texas.
But just when it seemed that WITCH had played their final show and
packed it up, in February 2013 Punky and former Jezebel’s manager Tom Boyle
discussed the possibility of a full-fledged WITCH reunion to take place
sometime in early summer. Starting in
2011 Tom had begun producing a yearly “Jezebel’s Resurrection” concert at a
club in Santa Ana called Malone’s, gathering together bands who were regulars
at Jezebel’s back in the 80s and early 90s.
Since WITCH had headlined Jezebel’s nearly twenty times it seemed only
natural that they would take part in these Resurrection concerts. However, for various reasons a WITCH reunion
was not possible in 2011 or 2012, but after speaking with Tom and making calls
to Peter, Jim, and Ronny, Punky announced that 2013 would be the year and June
22 would be the date. With the band
members living in three different states, extensive rehearsing was a luxury
they could not afford, so on April 20 and 21 Punky, Jim, and Ronny convened at
Trojan Studios in Orange
County for two marathon
sessions. To complicate matters further,
and because WITCH has never taken the easy road, they decided to play no less
than seven songs from the GOD BOX sessions featured on THE HEX IS ON…AND THEN
SOME, none of which had ever been played live before.
On June 17 Peter flew in to Orange County and rehearsed with the band that night and the following two nights.
Thursday the 20th was a day off, and on Friday the 21st a band dinner was held at Punky and Kelsey’s home in Huntington Beach.
June 22, 2013
Santa Ana, CA
Closing Acts: Filthy Rocks, White Lie
Opening Act: EV Loud
Archived: Video (multiple sources)
Mad For Life
Pay the Due
Take Me Away
Playing In the Rain
Games That People Play
Cinderella (In Black Leather)
It only took 24 years, 2 months, and 11 days, but the
classic lineup of Peter Wabitt, Punky Peru, Jim Warmon, and Ronny Too
finally took to the stage one more time (photo top right by Mike "Ozzy" Gibbens).
Truly a great night for the band, made possible in part by a loud and
enthusiastic crowd of well over 300 metal heads young and old (some so young
they hadn’t even been born when WITCH was playing the original Jezebel’s
twenty-five years ago). This show was
part of the Jezebel’s Resurrection night, but it also commemorated the band’s
30th anniversary. Anniversary
shirts were sold at the show, and included the date and location of every gig
the band ever played listed on the back.
No intro tape was used (originally a video retrospective was going to
introduce the band, but the idea was scrapped early on), and Punky did not use
the torches. The only staging elements
were a fog machine and a large curtain rigged in front of the stage that was
dropped to reveal the band during the beginning of “Mad For Life.” A lot of bands have played a reunion gig, but
how many of them include seven never before heard songs in their set? Only WITCH.
The new songs were well received and served to take the nostalgic shine
off the show. This was the ‘old’ WITCH,
but in many ways it was also a new WITCH, armed with new songs, a new yet
familiar image, and a slightly—slightly--more mature attitude that only comes
with time. Ronny even updated the WITCH
banner (the new banner made in 2008) by painting the white logo green. The band took their final bows at the end of
“Cinderella,” then without leaving the stage they launched into the encore
tune, “Conviction.” Exactly sixty-two
minutes after taking the stage it was over.
Thirty years of history, twenty-four years in the making, nearly five
months and countless dollars in the planning, it all came down to sixty-two
minutes of unforgettable stage time.
This may well be the final WITCH gig, but never say never.
(4 band photos above by Mike "Ozzy" Gibbens)
On July 15, Melissa Anderson at the Lake Elsinore Examiner published a review of the June 22 Reunion show, and included some great photos by Rockwell Anderson Media:
"Next on my list to see was Witch. All I can say is WOW!!! This was my first time seeing them play. For the band it was a reunion set. Hard core fans packed the floor to see this set. I was being tossed around when trying to take pics because the fans were trying to get as close as possible. The band was very gracious on stage. They tossed out t shirts and CD’s. The bass player took notice and personally handed some lucky fans a cd from the stage. One fan in particular, a young man who was all of 6ft tall and 200lbs plus, started jumping up and down hugged me and said, “Oh My God Witch just gave me a CD!". The band seemed to feed off the energy of the crowd and the more people cheered and waved arms in the air the better the songs got. Even the drummer got in on the action by standing up at the end of every song and waving to the fans. I had a rocking time at this show.
On July 23, Orange County, California arts and entertainment newspaper OC Weekly published "The 10 Greatest OC Metal Bands Of All Time," and WITCH came in at #7. Here's their blurb about the band:
"This is definitely an obscure pick. Only true underground and old-school metal fans will know about Witch, another band out of Huntington Beach, born out of the early '80s Southern California speed metal/glam metal scene. This is a band that has been FORGOTTEN by time, but only now fans are nostalgic for its music and legends of its live performances. Made up of singer Peter Wabbit, Ronny Too on guitars, Punky Peru on drums and Jim Wormon on bass. Perhaps in a parallel universe somewhere, Witch is as big as Motley Crue. Be sure to check out the 1984's EP The Hex Is On and the compilation Damnation from 2008. The band is no longer active but a complete history, including pictures, archives of shows and flyers, as well as a detailed biography can be found at www.witchtheband.com."
The complete list is:
10 Bleeding Through
8 Fu Manchu
5 Avenged Sevenfold