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Reviews by David

Thursday August 05

Band: Iron Maiden
True Metal Stage 21:30-23:30

There is no doubt that Iron Maiden is one of the best live bands there is to see out there today, no matter if you are a big front row banging fan or just a curious by passer at a festival like this. They have the energy to keep moving on stage through two hours. They don't waste time with a lot of solos or long speeches. They build up an impressive scene with the highlight of the show when the mascot monster Eddie enters in one of his many shapes.

Bruce Dickinson is the perfect frontman, who jumps and runs around as usual, keeping the crowd in a tight grip with his charismatic stone face and articulates with his whole body.

The setlist suited me perfect this time as it was built mainly on the last three albums. That means that we also got Maiden's perhaps two worst songs ever, Blood Brothers and Wildest Dreams, but also some of the best and least worn out: Ghost Of The Navigator, Dance Of Death and These Colours Don't Run. I missed For The Greater Good Of God though and could have lived without relics such as Wratchild, Iron Maiden and Running Free.

8 chalices of 10

The Wicker Man
Ghost Of The Navigator
El Dorado
Dance Of Death
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
These Colours Don't Run
Blood Brothers
Wildest Dreams
No More Lies
Brave New World
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden
The Number Of The Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Running Free

Friday August 06

Band: Astral Doors
WET Stage 13:45-14:15

Half an hour is not much playing time for bands with a few albums behind them. Astral Doors decided to do the most of it, into the bitter end, and got shut off in the middle of Cloudbreaker. But no matter how little time you have, it is a fatal error to leave out a song such as New Revelation. Now it became a genuine gig, with Nils Patrik Johansson's voice in nice shape as always, but without a natural highlight.

6 chalices of 10

Call Of The Wild
Black Rain
Power And The Glory
Of The Son And The Father
Evil Is Forever
Time To Rock

Band: Mad Max
WET Stage 15:35-16:05

Mad Max is a strange constellation, a 'true metal' band from the 80s with a lot of 'I only love the obscure 80s metal bands' followers, who eventually turned into a Christian AOR band in white suits. As you understand I didn't know quite what to expect from this. But it seemed they had decided to focus on the first part of the career here and skipped the white suits. The guys sure remembered how to rock as well. I left with a feeling of wanting more and that is always a good sign.

7 chalices of 10

Burning The Stage
Night Of Passion
Rollin' Thunder
Never Say Never
Fox On The Run

Band: Tarja
Party Stage 20:30-21:30

When I saw her on a club stage at KB in Malmö a couple of years ago it was magical. But to put Tarja as a solo act on a big stage on a metal festival was simply no good idea. To prove that she is 'metal' she overcompensates and tries to rock, rather than to do what she does best - soft operatic power ballads and epic orchestral goth metal. She hits the absolute bottom with the cover of Whitesnake's Still Of The Night.

Why do a lousy version of that rather than to just do what basically all in the crowd would want, another Nightwish song? It makes no sense at all. Now we got the beautiful Sleeping Sun (the highlight of the concert) and the much overrated Wishmaster, as some kind of minimum delivery on the Nightwish front (not counting the Gary Moore cover Over The Hills And Far Away).

5 chalices of 10

Lost Northern Star
My Little Phoenix
Ciàran's Well
Sleeping Sun
Still Of The Night (Whitesnake cover)
I Walk Alone
In For A Kill
Over The Hills And Far Away (Gary Moore cover)
Falling Awake
Die Alive

Saturday August 07

Band: Nightmare
WET Stage 12:00-12:30

The strangely underrated Frenchmen in Nightmare only got half an hour in spite of seven great albums to choose from. (Check them out if you haven't already and like bands like Masterplan and Mystic Prophecy!) If there had been more time I would have liked a few more songs from the masterpiece Genetic Disorder (2007) but Wicked White Demon was good enough. If singer Jo Amore only lost a few pounds he would be an exact copy of a young Ronnie James Dio. That is not only in appearance but also in his voice. This became most evident when the band chose to honour the lost legend by playing Holy Diver. It was almost scary.

8 chalices of 10

Eternal Winter
The Gospel Of Judas
Wicked White Demon
Holy Diver (Dio cover)
Legions Of The Rising Sun
Trust A Crowd

Band: Unleashed
Black Stage 14:30-15:30

I like Hammer Battalion (2008) a lot but I think that As Yggdrasil Trembles (2010) has taken Unleashed's music to a totally new level. So I was really psyched about seeing them again. And then they only played one new song, Wie kapitulieren niemals - not even one of the better on the album. What an anticlimax. I got three songs from Hammer Battalion though, but in the unbearable heat of the sun and I hardly managed to stand up straight through the numbers of old standard death metal. Apparently frontman Johnny Hedlund had problems with his back as well, which curbed him in his stage movements. The energy was not on the same level as on Sweden Rock Festival last year.

5 chalices of 10

Shadows In The Deep
Hammer Battalion
The Greatest Of All Lies
Your Children Will Burn
Wir kapitulieren niemals
Into Glory Ride
Legal Rapes
The Longships Are Coming
Death Metal Victory

Band: W.A.S.P.
True Metal Stage 18:15-19:15

If you have seen W.A.S.P. live a few times you know exactly what to expect. It is On Your Knees, L.O.V.E. Machine, Wild Child, Chainsaw Charlie, The Idol and I Wanna Be Somebody over and over again. It is all good played and performed, but without a single surprise it appears as just another routine gig. I am a bit allergic to the trick to do a bunch of more obscure classics in a medley.

I know Blackie wants to be taken seriously these days, but a little bit of a show wouldn't hurt his reputation. And why have all songs from the widely acclaimed 2007 record Dominator been taken off the set? Mercy, Take Me Up and Heaven's Hung In Black would hold as well as the old classics. The most surprising thing was that there was not time enough to end with Blind In Texas...

6 chalices of 10

On Your Knees
The Real Me (The Who cover)
L.O.V.E. Machine
Babylon's Burning
Wild Child
Hellion/I Don't Need No Doctor/Scream Until You Like It
Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)
The Idol
I Wanna Be Somebody

Band: Stratovarius
Party Stage 19:30-20:30

For some strange reason this was the premiere show for me when it comes to these classic Finns. Our roads have simply not crossed each other before. I must say Timo Kotipelto sung much better live than what I had expected. They have a few songs to choose from, and did a fine job with that. I got old favourites such as Hunting High And Low, Kiss Of Judas and Phoenix and the best song from the latest album, Winter Skies.

Matias Kupiainen might be a decent substitute for Timo Tolkki as a guitarist, but I could not help missing the greatest profile in the history of the band. Otherwise, one might wonder why the whole band was dressed up - except for the Swede Jens Johansson. He did an indolent appearance in shorts and grey t-shirt.

6 chalices of 10

Hunting High And Low
Higher We Go
Speed Of Light
The Kiss Of Judas
Against The Wind
Deep Unknown
Winter Skies
Black Diamond

Band: U.D.O.
True Metal Stage 01:35-02:50

I was close to call it a night after Immortal, but since I was planning to leave very early in the morning anyway I could as well spend some of the time with U.D.O. - for the eleventh time. I could repeat the setlist back and forward in my sleep, but everytime you stand there and hear the pounding drums of Independence Day or slow guitar intro to Princess Of The Dawn it is almost as good as the first time. I like that the focus lies on the U.D.O. material, with a few spices of Accept. But there are many treasures in the U.D.O. chest to vary the setlist with.

U.D.O. is on one hand a well oiled metal machinery. On the other hand they love this with their hearts and souls, every time they go on a stage, no matter in front of a couple of hundred in Växjö or, as here, on one of the biggest metal festivals.

7 chalices of 10

The Bogeyman
Independence Day
The Bullet And The Bomb
Princess Of The Dawn
(guitar solo)
Midnight Mover
Man And Machine
Animal House
Metal Heart
Balls To The Wall

To the top

The Closing Words

I did return to Wacken sooner than I expected, after the premiere last year due mostly to the exclusive Running Wild gig. I had a nice time indeed. But it will take something really spectacular next year to bring me over again. It is simply a big project that craves a lot of energy. Although I live almost as close to Wacken as it gets in Sweden, it took me twelve hours from home to the festival area, by ferry, train, train, ferry, train, train, train, bus and feet. (The last walk with all the packing several kilometres around the whole village and festival area to get to the accreditation office and backstage area was worthy an elite soldier. I guess you are not supposed to arrive by shuttle bus as a 'VIP'...)

But musically it was well worth it (I saw another ten bands, besides those reviewed above) and I really like the atmosphere in the village and festival area. Observation: Germans like to grill or fry things and put them in bread. The flatfish is super!

~ David

See also: Wacken article/review by Dux

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