The last time I was at the forum, Kiss were destroying it in aid of veteran soldiers. Helloween's Andy Deris tonight later pays tribute, perhaps unknowingly, with a magnificent Gene Simmons t-shirt. One has to say though, the place is almost as full as then, with a very youthful audience from all over Europe.
That is testament to the status and legacy of Helloween, with bands like Dragonforce, Edguy, Hammerfall and Masterplan all being able to attribute influences to the Helloweenies. If new power Metal's health can be judged on t-shirts on the tube and ticket sales when there are other choices for your London Metal night out tonight, it's very much alive and groping nurses.
Having lived through the grunge 90s, when you basically had to go to Germany or Scandinavia to find decent Metal, this revival is pleasing indeed, and no doubt also to the bands and promotors.
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So tonight's double bill. Kai Hanson's Gamma Ray, and New Ween... Gamma Ray light the stage up first, (we missed the first support sadly, due to indulging in excellent garlic and duck in a local eatery). Popular opinion says they are a tad uninspiring, and seem to be very static on stage. Having said that by the time we get to 'Future World' its bordering on the barnstorming with 'Keeper...' Klassiks! A sign is sent to follow for the final song, and most hands in the room are clapping along...
Helloween burst on stage, and it's spectacular. Animation and energy in complete contrast to the support. 'Nabataea' and 'Straight Out Of Hell', our first new songs from the new album, both sound fresh and epic, but with more than a nod to the mighty Priest. Then 'Where The Sinners Go' exploits the new youthful crowd who are well up for it tonight. The Metal connection keeps the liquid steel flowing with intent.
A rather dull drum solo from Daniel Loeble clanks into action, giving a chance for a break to visit the bar, or for the nicotine addicts to get a fix and it's back to the action. Passion and energy from start to end.
Helloween's current singer, Andi Deris, looks resplendent in various hat attire that make their presence known throughout the gig, but it's his voice that is the true hero, being amply able to cope with Hansen and Kiske vocals and screams throughout. I remember being impressed at Hard Rock Hell the last time I saw them and he's lost none of his talent.
Indeed, in a later sing off with Mr Kai himself, he easily proves so. The backing vocals of Grosskopf and Gerstner add colour and depth in all the chorus, in trademark Eurometal style.
As an encore we are asked 'Are We Metal'? I think very much so before Dr Stein makes strange creatures of us all. Feet stamp for more, and then the band take us on the streets of Helloween. There certainly is something going on in power Metal and it's resurgent Euro fans, thanks to the groundwork done by the Helloweenie grand daddies of the genre, and the later acolytes.
FInally to the iconic choruses of 'I Want Out', a triumphant song penned to vent frustration of Kai Hanson's latter day membership of Helloween, we are treated to a Gamma Ray/Helloween Ensemble that is simply bristling with energy.
Altogether, an awesome show, but one wonders if the significance is lost on the younger audience, as I overhear on the tube ride home "why did the singer of the first band leave then"... *sigh*.
Now, real question is, was a certain Mr Kiske's talent obviously missing? Personally I think Andy Deris' class reigned supreme, but you never know with the sound of €€€s ringing in the years, the next venture through the streets of Helloween could look very different, and by any other name! \m/ \m/
5/5 Brandy and Cokes... hic.
Wanna Be God
Eagle Fly Free
Straight Out Of Hell
Where The Sinners Go
Waiting For The Thunder
Hold Me In Your Arms
If I Could Fly
Hell Was Made In Heaven
Are You Metal?
Halloween/How Many Tears/Heavy Metal (Is The Law) (with Kai Hansen)
I Want Out (with Gamma Ray)