|» Wacken Open Air 2009||
The Opening Words - Final Jolly Roger
There was only one thing that made me do my late premiere at Wacken Open Air this year. Rolf Kasparek was about to put the final nail in the coffin where Running Wild has been laying the last few years and this was to be my final chance to see them live. Not much to discuss, I could not live with the regrets for the rest of my life, so fortunately a Swedish bus company had some tickets to the long time sold out event.
The plan was to see Running Wild and get onboard the first bus and train away from there. I thought I had had enough of the festival experience for this year and the rest of the lineup consisted of bands which I had seen four to ten times already, most of them at this years Sweden Rock Festival, or didn't care to see at all. But once I was there I kind of got caught in the atmosphere at this sacred heavy metal ground. Well, I would not die of a couple of extra days in the dirt. So I ended up seeing 13 bands (of which I will review ten for you here) and left Saturday afternoon, with only Saxon left in the missed band column.
~ David, August 2009
Reviews and photos by David
Party Stage has probably never had a more fitting name than when D.A.D.
entered it. The funny thing about the old Danes is that it must be the
only band I can recall where the frontman, Jesper Binzer, is the least
of a character on stage and the bassist steals most of the attention.
Stig Pedersen did it as usual by changing basses every now and then, to
one that is shaped as a missile and another as an inverted guitar, for
example. But he was also displaying an excellent example of energy on
stage, while he moveed around the whole scene and climbed up the bass
drum. The band as a whole does not take the question of action on stage
lightly. A legend like Tony Iommi still has a lot to learn. It looked
kind of dangerous though to use quite a lot of fire, in the hard winds
that was blowing from the side of the stage.
8 chalices of 10
(sorry, no setlist)
Band: Running Wild
Running Wild is Rolf Kasparek - the songwriter, the singer, the guitarist and the only consistent member. In other words the heart and soul of the band since its first incarnation in 1976. Besides Rock 'n' Rolf the band has had more than 20 members through the years. Even one who's existence as a real person is widely disputed (Angelo Sasso). Some of them have played longer and bigger parts than others, but none of them really matters compared to the captain. He is more Running Wild than Lemmy is Motörhead. It would have been a curiosity to see for example Majk Moti do a guest appearance on guitar, but to be honest I should probably not even have recognised him these days.
For some reason, of which we all only can speculate, the Captain just don't want to do it anymore. Why he rather plays glam rock as his new red haired alter ego T.T. Poison in Toxic Taste beats any logic. If this really was the end of Running Wild, it is just a sad day on planet earth, but stranger things have happened, haven't they? The fans sure did their part in convincing Herr Kasparek to think again, this evening at Wacken.
It was just about ten years ago that I discovered Running Wild through the songs Under Jolly Roger and Black Hand Inn on some compilation album. I soon bought the album Victory (2000), that perhaps is not the highest in light among old fans, but which got me all hooked up with the unmistakable riffs of the pirate captain himself. It didn't take long before I discovered the whole treasure of great speed metal. Well, actually it took its time, and I'm still getting new favourite songs now and then when I go through the discography. The next record I bought was The Rivalry (1998), and I was totally lost in the riffs of the title track, The Ballad Of William Kid and Fire & Thunder. Still we are not talking about any of the true Running Wild classics.
Sure, even my fire got a bit water on it with The Brotherhood (2002) and Rouges On Vogue (2005). Those were static albums out of inspiration and ideas. But I still remained very much hopeful to see the band live some day sooner or later. It was therefore with both a bit of a shock and some kind of joyful resolution that I realised that I had got this one last chance. It was Wacken or nothing. The decision was not hard to make. But I also feared for the almost inevitable disappointment that must follow such expectations on one single occasion. It simply had to be magic.
The German pirate theatre in the beginning was somewhat unworthy, but as soon as the intro Chamber Of Lies tuned in, all that was forgotten. Finally I got to see Rock 'n' Rolf alive and kicking. If he really have lost all will for this, he was able to hide it more than well. It was amazingly tight and energising, to be a band that actually has not existed for a few years already.
I was missing songs like Chains & Leather, Treasure Island, White Masque, The Hussar, Fight The Fire Of Hate and should I go on? But some of them I never actually expected and of those played I only want to trade The Brotherhood, Draw The Line and perhaps a couple of others at most.
Apparently the band wanted a scene of a pirate ship and other features of a sparkling show, but the organisers did not want to give them the time nor the money to put it up. Heavy rain, even heavier German crowd surfers, the mentioned lack of pyrotechnics, special lights, backdrop and other features of a decent stage show are factors that could have ruined the magic for most bands. But the magic in Running Wild lies in the riffs and those were delivered as always, by the master. Was it worth it? Hell, yeah!
8 chalices of 10
Band: Heaven & Hell
The closing gig at Sweden Rock Festival was perhaps the fiasco of the year, so it was not with any expectations of something fantastic that I chose to give Heaven & Hell another shot. Tony Iommi might be the most boring rock star who has ever entered the bigger stages. As usual he just stood there, at the same spot through the whole concert, looking at his feet. Never a smile, never a glimpse of gratitude for being where he is, among all the fans.
Ronnie James Dio might have the voice intact, which is impressive, but he has never been a huge scene personality either. His most dramatic move is to bend his thin knees (will they break this time?). His speeches are utterly boring and uninspired. The only person who shone of some force and attitude was Vinny Appice, behind (and under) his giant drum kit.
Add to this that the new record The Devil You Know is one of the biggest
disappointments in the rock world this year, and the songs from it - with
the brilliant exception of Bible Black - rather sink the set than lift
it up. On top of that the constellation's absolute best composition, Sign
of the Southern Cross, was left out again.
4 chalices of 10
I said it on Sweden Rock, UFO without Pete Way is just not the same.
Then they had the somewhat acceptable stand in Barry Sparks, now with
a new and unnamed character. Neither the band nor the public seemed to
be fully awake at this early hour, which Phil Mogg pointed out as well
in his half-hearted speech. Ironically, the normally dull character Paul
Raymond seemed to be the one in the best mood this time. With a rather
short set it was no time in the end for Doctor Doctor. Normally I don't
care that much for the inevitable hits in the end of shows, but this time
I had really looked forward to hear Doctor Doctor in the end for some
5 chalices of 10
Band: Gamma Ray
Few bands have had wider gaps between their best and their not so good
shows I have witnessed as Gamma Ray. Yet it is hard to put your finger
on what it is that differs. It could be as simple as a mere feeling of
a day at the job versus some of that extra spark of fire. This performance
placed itself in the lower middle however. There was something missing.
Kai's voice was not as strong as the few latest times. There were a few
solos and passages that were not as tight as usual. The medley with Future
World and I Want Out was a bit too cheap to really buy me. The setlist
at large was extremely predictable and built on routine. Songs like Man
On A Mission, Into The Storm and Heaven Can Wait have never really become
any personal favourites. And the new song, apparently titled To The Metal,
is plain awful. At its best it sounds like a bad cover of Judas Priest's
5 chalices of 10
This was the eleventh time I saw Hammerfall live, but the first time
outside of Sweden. Quite fun to see how Germans really like Hammerfall
- like, for real
That almost doesn't exist in Sweden. Although they
always draw a big crowd, most of the people seem to stand with their arms
crossed and looking sceptical, because it is not really okay to like a
Swedish band that catchy and successful if you are either 'mature' or
very 'true metal'. The guys seemed a bit more relaxed in this surrounding
as well. A few songs could have been left out, like the new, almost childish
Life Is Now and of course the horrible 'hit' Hearts On Fire, but I welcomed
the return of Glory To The Brave.
6 chalices of 10
After the ten-concert anniversary at Sweden Rock I thought I needed a
break from Motörhead. Just for a year or so, but still. But in the
end the cravings for Lemmy & Co. was a prime motivator for me to stick
around for another day at Wacken. I got paid for that. The gig was much
better than the before mentioned. I cannot put my finger on exactly the
reason for this, but it can be as simple as the volume. With the bureaucratic
restrictions in Sweden against playing loud, Motörhead did not come
to their true right. The setlist still could have been a lot more fun,
but the suite with Just 'Cos You Got The Power, Going To Brazil and Killed
By Death was swinging as phenomenal as ever.
7 chalices of 10
Doro stood for the biggest surprise of the festival, as far as the bands I saw. Frau Pesch and the boys have done well in my presence the two times before on Sweden Rock, but with very limited resources. On her own German soil, and subsequently surrounded by true fans and able to build up a full stage show, it became a whole different experience. Doro spread her light in the dark night, with a never ending smile and a voice as strong as ever. But I still don't understand the necessity of the Breaking The Law cover. Doro should have more than enough material from Warlock and Doro to cover an hour's set. Even more peculiar is the soft intro to the same song, where half of it is played extremely slow, before they start it all over in normal pace.
8 chalices of 10
Band: Amon Amarth
As with Hammerfall, it was fun to see Amon Amarth abroad, for the first
time (of six) with a full stage show, including Viking ship and extras
dressed as warriors. In the late (or early?) hour the band gave it all
like I have only seen them a few years ago, back in Sweden at Gates of
Metal. There was a whole new spark there, compared to the routine gig
at Sweden Rock earlier in the summer. It's amazing how many hits Amon
Amarth has produced by now. A one-hour set is almost full with must-play
songs, where new tunes like Twilight Of The Thunder God, Free Will Sacrifice,
Guardians Of Asgaard and Live For The Kill all stand up well against the
oldies. The volume was remarkably low - I couldn't even wear my earplugs,
which I always do at concerts - but otherwise the sound was totally clean
9 chalices of 10
Rage was to be the closing gig for me for this festival. They did a great
piece of work at Sweden Rock, so I wanted to lend them my ear yet another
time. I will not regret that. 'Peavy' Wagner sadly did not have one of
his best voice days, but he had been foreseeable enough to bring in a
row of guest singers, with Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) and Schmier
(Destruction) as highlights. To that we got a whole new setlist with the
amazing Lord Of The Flies, from the latest album Carved In Stone, on top.
7 chalices of 10
The Closing Words
Just to see Wacken - the village, the festival
ground, the medieval market, the famous skull logo and all the people
- was an experience I will not have undone. In a way I owe a thank you
to Rock 'n' Rolf for finally getting my ass away there. It was not as
'bad' as I expected either. Sure a lot of people in front of the stages,
many totally mad German crowd surfers, mud everywhere and hilarious prices
for non-alcoholic drinks. But also a relaxed mood, service-minded workers
and great sound and impressive large-screen services from the stages.
It might happen that I would return some day, if the lineup and the mood
is right, now that I know what to expect. I still prefer smaller festivals