|» Wacken Open Air 2011||
The opening words
Wacken. The festival every metal fan in the world wants to travel to once in a lifetime. I, myself, have been there many times starting ten years ago. I have seen the festival grow from close to 30000 people to, what the organizers now say, 75000. The festival area is crowded from noon until dawn, so there really is no place where you just can relax for awhile, making this experience into a couple of hectic days.
Reviews and photos by Tobbe
The first band I paid full attention to this year was Helloween. Five minutes into the first song, Are You Metal, the power broke down and the band left the stage for about ten minutes. I was thinking meantime, how the band is thinking when they start their shows with a song from the new album that should in fact not be even close to make the set for their performances.
The band enters the stage again and play a pair of classics before they go down the drain. Helloween's problem nowadays is that they want to play their new songs that actually nobody at a festival really cares for. When the classics are played the crowd is cheering and singing. This show was no exception and therefore we get a lot of ups and downs. The set obviously got abbreviated due to the breakdown of power and what do they do? They still choose to include a drum solo and two long and boring singalongs in Future World and in I Want Out. For what reason one can wonder?
There were magnificent parts on this show though, like the Keeper Of
The Seven Keys medley and Dr Stein. The musicians are doing good jobs
on stage as well. No surprises though. Sascha has grown into the band
now, Marcus runs around and interacts with the crowd and Michael is just
standing there playing like he always have.
Performance: 5 chalices
Band: Blind Guardian
After a quick break, the intro to Blind Guardian's Sacred Worlds is blasting out of the speakers. A couple of moments later, the band enters the stage with their bombastic power metal. Still there are only three members of this band that gets to face the crowd up front, since bass player Oliver is locked up in the back. It feels ridiculous after being part of this band for such a long time. By giving him more space, Hansi could still stand still most of the time and it wouldn't be so evident that he, as a frontman, is not running around.
As always you have no idea which songs this band is going to play, since they day to day almost changes the whole set. Tonight we get a set full of hits and old stuff. We also get three songs from their latest release. Even though those three songs are good, they feel a bit misplaced tonight, much due to their lenghts. Hansi just couldn't keep the audience in his hands for those long songs.
This set is closed with four songs to please the people and for once
a singalong was good. The one in Valhalla of course. When the fireworks
cracked at the end of Mirror Mirror, I just wished they had continued
a bit longer when they eventually got the ball rolling. They always do
great jobs up on stage whenever they want.
Performance: 5,5 chalices
Band: Ozzy Osbourne
What can I say about Ozzy that hasn't been said? I guess nothing. Even though Ozzy's voice is just a shadow of what it once was, he still is a true and great frontman from top to toe. His voice was working fine though tonight and was better than the two last times I've seen him. Also his musicians are first class and they play the songs almost just as they were made. When having such great songs to pick a set from, almost nothing can go wrong. However Ozzy needs some rest and during those fifteen minutes it is kind of boring. We get a stale guitar solo, a jam and a drum solo, which luckily quicked turned into Iron Man.
When classic tunes like Bark At The Moon, Crazy Train and the long forgotten
Shot In The Dark are played, I'm just standing in front of the stage never
wanting it to end. The crowd is following Ozzy's moves throughout the
performance and no complaints were heard after the show, except from those
who don't know how a heavy metal show should be played. There are records
for those people to listen to if they want perfection. A show is a show
and that was just what Ozzy and his band gave us tonight. He also knows
which songs to play at festivals. The songs people want to hear. The newest
songs played are on the album, No More Tears, released twenty years ago.
Performance: 7,5 chalices
Band: Primal Fear
For me Friday's opener was heavy / power metallers Primal Fear. A band that has been around for thirteen years now. To play a show this early is tough. Not so much for the actual playing, but more for that the bands have a hard time to wake the audience. Some being hung over and some are just tired from last night's experiences.
Primal Fear have always been one of my favorite bands around., so I was hoping to see a show that was going to be killer. I soon found out though that I was wrong. Same old songs were played and there was not one single song that haven't been played hundreds of times before. A band can of course not please a whole audience, but a little diversity would be awesome. Songs like Church Of Blood and Eye Of An Eagle wouldn't have hurt.
Lead singer Ralph is doing a good job and so are the guys with the strings,
but when it becomes too predictable you just lose focus on the show. All
songs are however great songs, but unfortunately not today at Wacken Open
Air. One other annoying thing is that Ralph said that they only could
do a short set and that they only had sixty minutes of playing time, and
then they play for just over fifty.
Performance: 4 chalices
Band: Suicidal Tendencies
Another old favorite band was up next, Suicidal Tendencies. This punk / skate / metal constellation has been around with different linups for thirty years and they are well known for their aggressive and great shows. The intro is fading out and lead singer Mike Muir enters the stage with the words "I just got one thing to say Wacken! What the fuck is going on around here?" From that second all the guys are rocking hard. Muir's consistent running and jumping has been the same since I first saw them and hasn't changed since that.
I knew for fact that the performance from the bandmembers was going to
be great even before the show started. This afternoon however, they had
decided to do funk versions of a couple of songs, ruining them totally
and therefore the show became not what I had expected, even though the
band's efforts were fantastic. Suicidal don't play the music they did
20-25 years ago, but please leave the old songs be and play them as they
are supposed to be played. Kudos, to the shortest drum solo I have seen
in a long time.
Performance: 5 chalices
This thrash metal quartet from Florida is growing a more and more soild fan base for every record done, so tonight they got to play at the spot before Judas Priest at the True Metal Stage. On this show they did what was expected. Four brand new songs from their fifth and latest release, In Waves, and just as many from their second album, Ascendancy and two from Shogun.
The performance is good, but the guitarists are standing way too frozen
to the stage floor. More movement is needed when those two are not singing,
just to make this into a show. The audience seem quite satisfied with
show, so maybe it's just me thinking differently? This band will probably
get even bigger with a bright future as time passes by and the dinosaurs
Performance: 5 chalices
Band: Judas Priest
Judas Priest's last world tour? Are they breaking up? Any more albums? Who knows and who has time to care when it's time for their performance this evening at Wacken Open Air?
Rob had problems with his voice before. Tonight it was like those problems almost never existed. He was singing better than for a long time and he was back to the old Rob, not standing still and staring at the ground. It feels strange to write it, but he almost nailed Painkiller, which he hasn't done since the early nineties. Glenn on the other hand felt a bit old tonight though and if you have a look at Ian, you can't tell the difference, since he has been standing in that same position ever since the dawn of man.
Just as promised, they played songs from every album, minus the ones that Tim Owens handles the mic on. We got a lot of highlights tonight, probably peaking with Breaking The Law, which Rob didn't sing one single word on. He just had the crowd doing the job and they were successful. Things like this is important for a band when they have played so many years. Those are the things you will remember when talking about a gig ten years later.
Most of the songs are killer and the musicians are fantastic, so to make
this a night to remember should be an easy task, but unfortunately this
show contains worse parts too, like the version of You've Got Another
Thing Comin, with both a singalong and an extended guitar solo. They should
also had picked a better song from the Nostradamus album, since Prophecy
gets boring even before it has started.
Performance: 8 chalices
Band: Iced Earth
This show was lead singer Matt Barlow's last one with Iced Earth. Have you heard the story before? Maybe we will get to see another comeback in a couple of years?
A recorded version of the instrumental song 1776 opens this show and when the band enters the stage with Burning Times, they look focused to make Matt's last Iced Earth show something to remember. Main man John is impressive with his guitar playing style and he is making it look so easy when playing that six string. The hired guns, who has now been in the band for a long time knows their position, but are truly making a good job. Matt has unfortunately not that strong voice he used to have. He screams a bit too much, but still it's good though.
Fifty minutes into the set when they leave for an encore, I'm thinking that only two songs are not following the same track, Declaration Day and I Died For You. All other songs sounds almost the same, so a little more diversity should have been great.
Yes, of course it gets a little sentimental at the end. Some guys didn't
seem too happy with Matt leaving the band again, but fortunately I couldn't
see any tears down in the crowd.
Performance: 5 chalices
Once a great band with the future at their feet, but sadly in people's eyes they are just shadows of past times. A lot of people showed up however and people seemed satisfied during the performance. They were working hard up on stage, but from where I stood, the sound quality was poor and therefore and due to that the songs are not as good anymore, I left before the show was over.
I think however think that this version of Sepultura should keep on playing,
no matter what people say. A reunion with the Cavalera brothers seems
far away and with this situation, people who like these bands get more.
Performance: 3 chalices
(sorry, no setlist)
Band: Tobias Sammet's Avantasia
Avantasia, Tobias Sammet's solo project have been playing live a pair of dozens of times now, so the exclusivity is not there anymore. I however did want to see this, because you never know if there will be more chances to see these constellations, with many guest appearances from well known lead singers like Jørn Lande, Bob Catley, Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville.
The show starts with Twisted Mind, which Tobias sings on his own and you could see that people where waiting for the guests, because let's face it, that's why most of us came. Tobias did a great job tonight though, so his efforts were welcome. I hadn't expected him to sing as good as he did. Jørn Lande enters and one of the best songs tonight, The Scarecrow, is played. Suddenly the crowd goes nuts and the show has started for real. One who didn't sing as great as we are used to was Michael Kiske. I got a little surprised when I heard him sing Reach Out For The Light, because I saw him last year and then his voice worked better.
Tonight's highlight was, without any doubts, Death Is Just A Feeling. Kai Hansen did a good job and so did the rest of the band. Speaking about the rest of the band. They are great musicians, but even Tony Iommi takes more steps during a show than all these guys with the strings. Bob Catley had the toughest job tonight, having to sing the worst song of the set. Even though he pulled it off, the song should never have been played.
We get a couple of bombastic encores like Avantasia and almost a full
version of Sign Of The Cross. However we only get one minute of The Seven
Angels, which is a shame. Kai Hansen is playing guitar at the end and
with one more guitar it got even more powerful of course.
Performance: 6 chalices
I am one of those persons who have liked Kreator almost from the start. Nowadays I however think that their latest albums are the best and the first ones have highlights, but with way too many fillers. Having that said, I was hoping for a lot of new stuff tonight.
and I got it. If you count Phobia as a new song, we got eight full songs out of thirteen. It was however a little surprising for me that a lot of people in the crowd was rocking just as hard to the new stuff as to the old. Kreator will never be what they were, they will probably just get better and better.
Main man Mille is just as evil and angry as he has been ever since I first saw him and Ventor is banging his drums even with more power than before, as they rush though their set at full speed. The sound quality on this gig could definitely have been better. Songs like Endless Pain and Pleasure To Kill needs a good sound, otherwise they can't make themselves justice on a live show.
They finish the set with Flag Of Hate and Tormentor, which makes me feel
pretty fed up, because that was so predictable. For how many years more
will Mille keep on wanting the crowd to shout Hate right after he said
Performance: 6,5 chalices
Motörhead seems to play at every festival all over Europe every year. I have seen them at least fifteen times at festivals, so I was going to the show in good hope that they would perform a great gig once again.
The show started excellent with songs like Iron Fist and Metropolis, but then suddenly something happened. The songs and the performance felt too rehearsed, so all the moves felt like they had been done before. Probably this actually means that these guys have been playing together for so long that they know exactly where they got each other.
I saw about fifty minutes of the show before leaving, because I was quite
sure that Going To Brazil, Ace Of Spades, Overkill and Killed By Death
were going to be played the last twenty minutes or so, which would have
made it even more to just a day at work tonight.
Performance: 4 chalices
(sorry, no setlist)
Band: Venomin James
I had only heard one song from Ohio's quintet Venomin James before, but I decided to go check them out. Going there is not something I regret. They played five songs of what they said was doom metal, but I would call it a hybrid of Life Of Agony and Swedish band Mustasch, with a touch of doom.
The singer was wild right from the start. He was spending half of the show in the foto ditch and popping up here and there to hang on the people at the front row. The guys with the strings were rocking as hell too, making this one hell of a show. I must say that the performance was even actually better than the songs, even though the songs were ok. The song I had heard before, Make No Mistake, was one of the highlights on this gig.
What happened afterwards was even more fun. They were throwing out T-shirts
and CDs for a couple of minutes and then suddenly one guitarist starts
to bang his guitar to the stage floor and then hands out the debris to
the crowd. The other guitarist sees this and decides to do exactly the
same. We got a good laugh and most people will probably never forget this
Venomin James show.
Performance: 7,5 chalices
(sorry, no setlist)
Band: Children Of Bodom
I missed the first songs due to the conflict with Venomin James. As I stepped down to Black Stage to see Children Of Bodom, In Your Face was up. I soon realized that this was going to be just another gig for the Finnish melodic death metallers. Sometimes I feel like lead singer and guitarist Alexi is taking way too much space on stage. He is a great performer and frontman, but it would be good if he let go a bit.
Apparently they started the show with a couple of songs from their latest album, Relentless Reckless Forever and then turned this show into a hit oriented one. The crowd down on the ground did a good job to support the band, even though the hour was getting late and rain was coming.
As stated above they played many hits, but something was clearly missing
tonight. The band are well known for their great live performances, but
tonight things really didn't work out.
Performance: 4,5 chalices
(might be slightly incorrect)
The closing words
When I was reading the weather forecasts a couple of days before this year's festival, they were nothing but bad. Heavy rain for at least two days, which would have meant that Wacken once again would be the home of mud. Suddenly the forecasts changed at Wednesday afternoon. Now they said temperatures in the low twenties Celsius (low seventies Fahrenheit) and just a couple of showers. This time, they were fortunately right, so the weather turned out good, but a couple of degrees warmer wouldn't have hurt.
Wacken Open Air 2011 will for me be remembered as a year with good shows, but with almost none who were great. The festival had all the usual bands and all the usual signs everywhere about metal. Metal breakfast, Metal markt, etc. It feels like I could continue forever. When thinking about it, it is close to ridiculous, but they do it in a good way, making it cool instead. The huge gap between the bigger stages and the crowd is something they will have to work on. I think this is one major reason that many bands did not perform as good as we are used to.