On the strength of seeing Helloween a couple of years ago dominating Hard Rock Hell 4 in Prestatyn, I jumped on a train and travelled down to London to catch them again on their Hellish Rock Part 2 tour with fellow countrymen Gamma Ray supporting them for another dose of power metal. A sunny London boded well for the nights triple bill entertainment with Brazilian band Shadowside completing the power metal line up.
On arriving at the HMV Forum it was nice to meet up with some of my fellow London togs who I hadn’t seen in awhile and catch up with what we had all been up to since we had last shared a photopit together. Tonight’s audience spanned a wide age range from when Helloween first became famous and plenty of younger followers who are enjoying the resurgence in Power metal who have come to see one of the originators of the genre. The audience was also pretty far travelled with people from up and down the length and breadth of the country as well as from abroad.
After the usual formalities of getting my photopass for the night it was down to the front for the first band of the night Brazil’s Shadowside, who took to the stage of a rapidly filling up Forum. Opening with ‘I’m Your Mind’ from 2011’s Inner Monster Out the band launched into their own brand of power metal, unfortunately the sound mix was rather muddy and Dani Nolden’s vocals were rather lost in the mix. Which was a shame as there was clearly fans down the front who were here to see the band as they were singing along to the songs. While I was performing my photo duties Dani provided us with a fine line in hair whipping though it has to said that the rest of the band were rather static for the most part. Photo duties finished the band launched into the Motorhead classic ‘Ace Of Spades’ while I was walking through the crowd which got the audience singing along. Finishing with ‘Angel With Horns’ the band seemed to go down well with the audience despite the poor sound mix.
- I’m Your Mind
- Inner Monster Out
- Ace of Spades
- Gag Order
- Waste of Life
- Angel With Horns
- Dani Nolden – Vocals
- Raphael Mattos – Guitar
- Fabio Carito – Bass
- Fabio Buitvidas – Drums
Next up was former Helloween member Kai Hansen’s Gamma Ray who hit the stage after a brief intro tape and launched straight into ‘Anywhere in the Galaxy’ and trouble! While the sound had improved for the German band Kai’s guitar kept cutting out so much so that he stopped playing and just sung the song while his guitar technician frantically worked to find the cause of the problem, thankfully before the end of the song the problem was traced to a faulty lead and Kai was back in action and despite the problems they didn’t distract too much from Gamma Ray’s arrival on stage as Kai and the band didn’t miss a beat threw out the problems.
Straight into ‘Men, Martians and Machines’ and Kai and the band are showing why they are one of the hardest working German bands around tight and faultless execution of the songs. While it’s true that Gamma Ray don’t do much on stage they do genuinely seemed pleased to be on stage performing with smiles all round as they storm through their set and occasionally indulging in a little on the spot jumping from kai an Dirk Schlächter on bass.
Songs like ‘Master of Confusion’ and ‘Empire of the Undead’ are lapped up by the audience with plenty of head shaking and fists pumping in the air. A solo by Henjo Richter incorporating parts of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg and Gamma Ray launch into ‘Future World’ from Kai’s days when he was part of Helloween and the audience is well and truly behind the band. ‘To The Metal’ brings the main set to a glorious climax with plenty of foot stomping and fists punching the air to this anthemic song. The band leave the stage to many cries for “One more song” and do not disappoint by reappearing shortly to perform ‘Send Me a Sign’ before finally leaving the stage for the final time to the cries of a very happy audience ringing in their ears.
- Anywhere in the Galaxy
- Men, Martians and Machines
- The Spirit
- Dethrone Tyranny
- Master of Confusion
- Empire of the Undead
- Guitar Solo
- Future World
- To the Metal
- Send Me a Sign
Gamma Ray are:
- Kai Hansen – rhythm & lead guitar, lead vocals
- Henjo Richter – lead & rhythm guitar
- Dirk Schlächter – bass
- Michael Ehré – drums
With the stage cleared and a large camouflage net hanging across the stage obscuring Daniel Löble’s huge drum kit and the raised back section it’s finally time for tonight’s headliners the mighty Helloween. As the intro tape of AC/DC’s very appropriate ‘For Those About To Rock’ ends the lights go out and searchlights pierce through the camouflage netting, giving a very war like atmosphere as the drums to opening new track ‘Wanna Be God’ rings out. This song performed by just Löble’s and singer Andi Deris till just after half way through when the guitarists hit the stage finally giving the photographers something to actually photograph! Unlike the previous two bands Helloween are all action criss crossing the stage constantly and bassist Markus Grosskopf is often to be found atop the raised back section looking down on the crowd.
Another song from this years album Straight Out of Hell follows ‘Nabataea’ as Andi Deris joins the rest of the band on the ground to lead their Power Metal charge from the stage front. It’s back to 1988 classic album Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 next for ‘Eagle Fly Free’ before jumping back to their newest album for the title track ‘Straight Out of Hell’ 4 songs in and 3 have been been from their newest release which shows how much confidence the band have in their new material and they haven’t lost the audience who are clearly enjoy the German rockers set.
The band are clearly enjoying themselves and in-between all the criss crossing of the stage and climbing to the back they throw guitar picks at each other and even catch a few without missing a note. The ballad for tonight is ‘Hold Me in Your Arms’ with Sascha Gerstner on acoustic guitar for the opening of the song before the band start the build up to the final song of the main set which is ‘Power’. The band soon return to the stage and we are asked if ‘Are We Metal’? judging by the noisy reply I think it’s safe to say we definitely are, Dr Stein’s monsters quickly follow to bring the first encore to a thunderous ending.
Much foot stomping and shouting brings the band back on stage for a medley of songs with Kai Hansen reunited with his former band as they play Halloween / How Many Tears / Heavy Metal (Is the Law), and features a sing off between Kai and Andi which I think it’s safe to say Andi won hands down with his considerable vocal talents. As if that wasn’t good enough seeing Kai onstage again with his old band the rest of Gamma Ray joined Helloween on stage to perform a supercharged version of the kai penned Helloween classic ‘I Want out’ to bring the show to a triumphant and very happy ending.
On the strength of tonight’s show it is quite clear that power metal is safe and sound in the hands of Helloween and it’s other European offspring and long may it continue to thrive. A superb show and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long before these shores are graced once again with some Germanic power metal.
- Wanna Be God
- Eagle Fly Free
- Straight Out of Hell
- Where the Sinners Go
- Waiting for the Thunder
- Steel Tormentor
- Drum Solo
- I’m Alive
- Live Now!
- Hold Me in Your Arms
- If I Could Fly
- Hell Was Made in Heaven
- Are You Metal?
- Dr. Stein
- Medley featuring Halloween / How Many Tears / Heavy Metal (Is the Law)
- I Want Out
- Michael Weikath – lead & rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Markus Grosskopf – bass, backing vocals
- Andi Deris – lead vocals
- Sascha Gerstner – rhythm & lead guitar, backing vocals
- Daniel Löble – drums
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