Monday, 6 December 2010

Helloween and Stratovarius Live Report

On a perishingly cold Sunday night the London power metal throngs gathered at the HMV Forum for two of the giants of the game to show us what they can do to warm us up. First of all, as I walked in the venue a third and unexpected band were on stage doing the actual warming up so to speak. I didn't have any idea about the presence of this band who were in fact Trick or Treat from Spain. I actually know these guys quite well and they are quite fun. I only caught 3 songs from the band and they sounded quite happy and fun but the singer had an extremely high voice with a rather thick Spanish accent which is a bit funny but power metal is supposed to be fun is it not? ToT were that indeed for three songs..

It is my first time in this venue and I found it to be a really nice place to hold a gig of this size. The upstairs was actually shut off completely as the attendance obviously did not warrant said opening. The crowd slowly built in anticipation for Stratovarius and finally at 8pm they took to the stage with an 800 or so crowd ready to welcome them to London once again. I must admit the sound was pretty excellent all night although I had trouble hearing Timo's vocals on occasion. It was rather strange to see only two long term Strato members on stage - namely Timo and Jens of course. However the new guitarist is really a top notch player and nailed his parts to perfection although he's not the most expressive guy facially.

Timo tried hard to get the crowd going and to begin with it was a bit of a struggle but slowly the crowd was warming to the task. Timo announced that Jorg Michael was ill and would rejoin the band in January but they had a very suitable replacement by the name of Alex something or other I forget what. Anyway the band is very tight indeed replacement drummer or not. I must admit I don't recognise quite a lot of the set list although I've heard them in the past, I'm just not enough of a Strato fanboy to be singing along to the tunes but there were plenty of people present who were obviously! My favourite song of the night was Speed of Light which was played lightning last and sounded very good indeed. Kiss of Judas was also a recognisable highlight. Winter Skies was also excellently played and sung. The song of the set however was the furiously catchy Hunting High and Low. The last song was Black Diamond of course one of theie most famous. I actually don't like this song much oddly enough but people loved it of course. At 9pm Stratovarius finally left the stage to long applause. They pleased me but I wasn't overly excited by them to be honest but like I said I am not a huge huge Strato fan or anything but I respect them as one of the power metal biggies in Europe. I sometimes wonder how Stratovarius would sound if they were a twin guitar band but that's for another day. The only thing I would repeat is that it's rather odd for the founder of the band to not be up there on stage with them not that I care or anything though. I guess it's better for the band that he's not though as the new album Elysium could be very special..hopefully!

  1. Phoenix
  2. Legions
  3. Darkest Hours
  4. The Kiss of Judas
  5. Against the Wind
  6. Winter Skies
  7. Speed of Light
  8. Deep Unknown
  9. Paradise
  10. Hunting High and Low
  11. Black Diamond
Finally at around 9.40pm Helloween took to the stage with a blisteringly heavy version of Are You Metal? blaring out of the speakers. The song sounded much better live than it does on record as well. The band looked and sounded on tip top form by all reckoning and this after just one song. The sound was crystal clear more or less instantly which I am not used to happening in London gigs, as normally it takes the sound guys a couple of songs to sort things out but this time there was no such problems.

Andi Deris was really into it in a rather big way I must say and got the crowd well pumped who were much more vociferous than they were for Stratovarius. Eagle Fly Free saw full crowd participation on the chorus and most of the song actually and Andi often turned the mic to the crowd and was met with loud singing. Andi's vocals were top notch all night and he nailed the highs even though he did make one funny quip before one song with rather too many high notes! He said something to the affect that he has his "predecessor to thank for that!" referring to Kiske of course.

I must admit I had seen recent helloween setlists which were personally speaking much better for me , featuring newer songs which are more in line with my personal taste. However what they did perform, they did with flawless abandon. Markus' bass playing was awesome to say the least and he sounded crystal clear in the sound mix which helped no end. I was hoping to hear World of Fantasy from the new album or If I Could Fly which I have seen on recent set lists as I said but it wasn't to be. The Keeper medley of their longest songs was rapturously received although I must admit that part dragged a touch for me although I should say I was probably alone in that respect in the whole crowd hehe!

The end of the set saw the band play songs that they obviously must play otherwise they'd be lynched probably! The songs being the usual suspects that you can see below in the set list. I beat a hasty retreat after the first encore and missed Dr. Stein but I've heard it enough now I think don't you? :-)

My overall feeling is that Helloween really are the grandfathers of this genre now and most bands look up to them as reaching the pinnacle of European power metal and although the set list did not quite meet with my expectations personally speaking, I can't deny that they are probably stronger as a band than they've ever been. The songs I did hear were executed flawlessly and with great enthusiasm by all on stage even Weiky who is not the happiest of fellows on stage at the best of times, looked to be having lots of fun. The funniest guy was definitely Markus though and he's actually a very talented bass player and I think people sometimes forget that. More new songs next time guys!

  1. Are You Metal?
  2. Eagle Fly Free
  3. March of Time
  4. Guitar Solo
  5. Where the Sinners Go
  6. Steel Tormentor
  7. Drum Solo
  8. I'm Alive
  9. Handful Of Pain
  10. Keeper/The King for A 1000 Years /Halloween Medley
  11. I Want Out
  1. Ride the Sky
  2. Future World
2nd Encore
  1. Dr. Stein

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trick or Treat singer has a so thick Spanish accent, that he is Italian....