This is the third time that we attended this great festival. And every year it becomes bigger and better. Wacken is situated in the very Northern part of Germany, just above Hamburg. Already months before the festival starts, the first names of the bands that play there circulate on the internet site of Wacken (www.wacken-open-air.de). Many changes occur until the official line up is confirmed. And then you still see some changes coming up last moment. The cancellations this year came from CRADLE OF FILTH (in a very early stage already), WITCHFYNDE, OVERKILL, TESTAMENT, ANNIHILATOR and THIN LIZZY. The festival started on Thursday evening, August 3rd and ended Saturday night. What you'll read here is an overview of the many highlights on this year's festival. It's impossible to cover all sixty bands that played during these days. But I hope you get a good view of what this mighty cult festival is all about. We start our review on Thursday evening, August 3rd.
Thursday, August 3rd, 2000.
After a seven hour trip full of traffic jams, we finally arrive in Itzehoe. It's a small town just above Hamburg, where we booked our hotel. The second reason to be there is a recordstore called Hellion Records. Some people waste their money in casinos. We rather spend it there and return home with a bag full of new CDs, records and magazines. It's a great place to find some rare stuff, too! BREAKER had just done an autograph session in the store. Many bands will follow their example during the upcoming days. Our next goal is the Wacken festival site. But first we had to go through a huge check up on drugs and weapons by the German police (which was done in a very rude way), which took place at the exit just before the festival. Of course these wankers didn't find anything, but it costed us about twenty-five whole minutes. At the Wacken backstage area, we spend less time collecting our backstage passes due to the fine organisation of this festival. And we already made contact with some good friends of ours, which we hadn't seen for about a year. Most of the time we never miss a thing on a festival, but now we couldn't help it that we missed the biggest part of the opener KROKUS. But I heard that they'd played songs like "Long Stick Goes Boom", "American Woman", "Heatstrokes", "Bedside Radio" and as an encore they played the JERONIMO cover "Heya" from their new album called "Round 13".
MOLLY HATCHET were on next with their magnificent Southern Rock sound. Hero of the band is long time band member Bobby Ingram, whose solos kept going on and on. The band also played some songs of their newer albums "Devils Canyon" and "Silent Reign Of Heroes", but the older fans (like me) enjoyed the classics the most. And with classics I mean songs like "Whiskey Man", "Bounty Hunter", "Dreams I'll Never See" and "Gator Country". Without any doubt the band played a great show, but the sound wasn't too well. I can still hear the bass thundering in my heart. With this show MOLLY HATCHET showed us that "The South has risen again!". COMPANY OF SNAKES was the last band on this first day of the Wacken festival. A name that probably won't ring a bell to many Metal heads around. But if I say that this band actually is WHITESNAKE minus David Coverdale and Cozy Powell, then you'll get the point I guess. Cozy, who sadly died in a car accident, was replaced by John Lingwood and David was replaced by Robert Hart (ex BAD COMPANY). However, Robert decided to leave the band and is now being replaced by Gary Barden (ex MSG). The song remains the same though and the band kicked off with "Come On". Many WHITESNAKE classics will follow like "Sweet Talker", "Slow and Easy", "Come And Get It", "Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues", "Fool For Your Loving", an acoustic version of "Ain't Gonna Cry No More", "Is This Love?", "Love Hunter", "Wine, Women and Song" and the RAINBOW/RUSS BALLARD classic "Since You've Bee Gone" which was dedicated to Cozy Powell". Bernie Marsden sang a few songs. And I must admit that you miss something when Coverdale doesn't sing all these magic songs. But it was great to see that people like Neil Murray, Don Airey and Micky Moody (who played the instrument of the devil, the slide guitar) are still alive and kicking. A great closer of this first day. An opening without any ladies, but we had two more days to go. Tomorrow we would get the real stuff going on!
Friday, August 4th, 2000.
Despite a few cancellations, the organisation of the festival came up with again one of the finest programs they ever made. A good collection of old and new bands were on the bill. And some interesting ladies came on stage as well. Here's what we came up with. The first notes we enjoyed were from a Polish black metal band called VADER who started their activities at one o'clock exactly. Most of the songs they played were from their new album "Litany", that they promoted during this tour. While on another stage the first headbangers could enjoy the sound of metal heads DARK AT DAWN. Their music shows some similarity to IRON MAIDEN.
Right after that we already saw one of the first highlights of the festival. The return of the mighty SAMSON, complete with Thunderstick (Barry Purkis) the caged drummer, and original bass player Chris Aylmer. Vocalist Nicky Moore may look a little older, but this blues vocalist still hits all the high notes like he did in the old days, while Paul Samson fires his riffs and solos at the hungry audience. Classics like "Vice Versa", "Red Skies", "Earth Mother" and "Riding With The Angels" are played. In the middle of the gig Thunderstick managed to escape from his cage and started dancing in the middle of the stage. After that he destroyes his cage. After the show he managed to escape into the backstage area where it stayed unquiet for the rest of the day. A very cool performance of some great musicians. On the other stage Swedish death metal band DERANGED was promoting their latest release called "III". Also from Sweden is DARK FUNERAL who brought us some very brutal combination of black and death metal. The first crowdsurfers made their appearance.
A lot of older people went to see another band from the NWOBHM period namely GASKIN. Paul Gaskin is the only original member. He played quite a few songs from his new album "Stand Or Fall", but of course he couldn't go without playing "No Way Out" and "I'm No Fool". It was good to see these guys back on stage again. It was very difficult to decide which bands to see at this hour of the day. There was so much happening. ROYAL HUNT was working on one stage, with ex ARTENSION vocalist John West heating up the crowd real well. It was kinda strange to see him dominate the stage with this band, in my eyes ROYAL HUNT is much too commercial for the powerful voice of John West. Nonetheless the audience loved it. Right at the end of this gig SAVAGE started their set. It was nice to see them returning with their, pretty new sounding, recent album called "Xtreme Machine". Chris Bradley and Andy Dawson are the original members. It's a shame that not everybody seemed to like the 'new' sound of these English rockers. At the same time, on another stage, people could see German black metal band UMBRA ET IMAGO. They presented the fans a shocking show full of evil, unholy blasphemy. Here we got the first ladies on stage. Not as singers or playing an instrument, but they were there to dance and create a horror like atmosphere. The girls were nailed to the cross and tortured with flames. The show looked very spooky and I think you'll hear more about this blasphemous black metal band.
Another highlight came when one of my all time favorites ANGELWITCH hit the stage. They opened with "Extermination Day" and from these notes on they surprised the audience completely with a 'best of ANGELWITCH' show containing songs like "Baphomet", "Sorcerers", "Atlantis", "White Witch", "Twist Of The Knife" and of course "Angelwitch". Thousands of people sang the song and cheered their lungs out for an encore, but the organisation kept a tight schedule (of course). Through the ANGELWITCH gig, that I needed to see, I largely missed the really great true metal band from America called OCTOBER 31. Their attitude is to go for it completely. Frontman King Fowley gives himself entirely. Dressed in a "WILD DOGS" t-shirt he made the audience taste some true metal. Last song of the set was the SAXON classic "The Power And The Glory", which gave the audience a chance to sing along to. The rest of the time King Fowley spend record hunting on the metal market. I hope he will return soon for a longer tour, cause the atmosphere he created with his band was exactly like in the good old days. IMMORTAL had to swap places with MARDUK. IMMORTAL, who played instead of ANNIHILATOR, didn't give a shit and right from the start, they went for the throat. Their set was almost the same as the one at Dynamo Open Air. Great riffs and a thundering rhythm showed the audience that they are still 'the kings of black metal' and no one else. RHAPSODY's star is rising really fast and their new album is a million seller. Luca Turilli and his band mates showed that they can also create this impressive sound on stage as well as on CD. MARDUK sounded very brutal on stage and they played u.w. "Obidience" from their new MCD. Nobody can escape from their iron claws except for some Germans, who wanted to see Tom Angelripper's new outfit DESPERADOS. Which is in fact a cross between metal and country music.
GRIM REAPER played a set which was much too short. Thirty minutes were filled with classics like "See You In Hell" , "Rock You To Hell", "Nightmare", "Fear No Evil", "I Need Love" and "Don't Waste My Time". Steve Grimmett (vocals) is still the perfect front man of this band. His new band is called SEVEN, and backstage he told me that his other band LIONSHEART does no longer exist anymore. STRATOVARIUS is a cool band and Timo Tolkki is a great guitar player, but I liked the sound of their forgotten first album the best. Reason for us to get something to eat. We missed a piece of PINK CREAM 69 through this but what we saw was more than impressive. Their new CD "Sonic Dynamite" is highly recommended and their stage appearance can be described as very powerful. ARMORED SAINT filled the gap that was left behind by the cancelling of OVERKILL. And man, did they kick some serious ass here! They're back and they sounded like they've never been away before. Songs like "Can U Deliver", "Delirious Nomad", "Reign Of Fire" and "Raising Fear". proved this. PRAYING MANTIS surprised the audience with a crystal clear sound of their melodic rock. Of course they played some new songs from their new CD but I'm glad that they didn't forget songs like "Captured City" and "Children Of The Earth". And they did a good version of the QUEEN song "We Will Rock You", which was the ultimate chance for the public to show their singing talents again. For the oldies among us, it was cool to see good old Dennis Stratton (first IRON MAIDEN line up) play lead guitar again. ICED EARTH is very hot band at this moment. Especially after the release of "Alive In Athens", they got a special place in my heart. Their performance at Wacken was super cool. They played for the first time with new drummer Richard Christy (ex DEATH, DEMONS & WIZARDS). John Schaffer, their guitarplayer, played with a neck protector. He appeared with his other band DEMONS AND WIZARDS in Holland not long ago, but now it was time to switch back to ICED EARTH again. Besides the many classics that we all know from the "Alive In Athens" triple CD, we also got to hear a smashing version from "Electric Funeral" (BLACK SABBATH cover), which comes from their limited "Melancholy" EP. To me this band is what IRON MAIDEN was in the eighties. Maybe that's why they also played "The Trooper". They live for heavy metal. Same goes for Danish speed metal band ARTILLERY, who played on another stage, presenting the public their new album "B.A.C.K.". After a short break backstage, where my wife Rita had a meeting with the monster that's to be seen on the new GAMMA RAY CD sleeve, HYPOCRISY and BLACK SWEDEN were enjoying themselves on stage. After that, we went to see the last few bands on this first day. On two different stages we saw GAMMA RAY and LIEGE LORD. GAMMA RAY did what they were supposed to do. They played a sort of 'best of' set and the people loved it. The band is very popular in their home country and they've influenced a lot of bands. Kai Hansen is the king of metal and it was just great to see thousands of people go crazy in front the stage at one o'clock in the morning. On the other stage we saw the return of LIEGE LORD.
Their metal, complete with speed breaks reached the cult status. And although there's only one original member in the band they still played the old stuff like they never did before. Classics like "Master Control", "Freedom's Rise" and the RAINBOW cover "Kill The King" sounded very tight. SIX FEET UNDER and BREAKER were the last two bands on the first day. Everybody talked about BREAKER, that made a great comeback with the release of their "Accept" EP on CD and the release of a two CD set called "Get Tough" on which they present us sixteen new tracks. Earlier this week the band played a club gig in Bremen, Germany. People told me that it was a great performance. Maybe that's why I was a bit dissapointed by this gig. The sparks didn't reach the public, no matter how hard they tried. Nonetheless, you could notice that this band is very experienced. Maybe if I saw them at a small club gig, I would go totally out of my mind or maybe it was the fact that I was tired after seeing so many bands. Day one was over before we knew it. Highlights being ANGELWITCH, SAMSON and GRIM REAPER. What a great way to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal!!!! As you can read, there were not too many ladies hitting the stage on this first full day. I think they waited with the best part for our magazine 'till the second full day.
Saturday, August 5th, 2000.
After a short, five hour sleep and a good breakfast we went to the festival site again. When we arrived we'd missed openers SHARD and DARK AGE, who were playing on two different stages. But who the hell is playing on a metal festival at ten o'clock in the morning? You must be nuts to play at that time and you must be even more out of your mind to go and see it. No reason to say that there was almost no one there when we arrived to see MOB RULES and FREEDOM CALL. MOB RULES already made a good impression with their album "Savage Land". On stage they sound a bit too clean to my opinion, but they let the audience taste a few new songs already, which sound very promising indeed. FREEDOM CALL is a bit more experienced and consists of former members of GAMMA RAY and MOON'DOC. They attacked the audience with songs from their debut album "Stairway To Fairyland". LATE NITE ROMEO was not very impressive to my opinion.
I was more impressed by French heavy rock animals NIGHTMARE, who really surprised me with their refreshing heavy sound. Sometimes they even used three guitar players, which gave them a nice full sound. Their singer shows some resemblance to Klaus Meine (SCORPIONS vocalist), he's a perfect frontman. In their too short set, they also played two new songs namely "Kill For The New Messiah" and "The Spiral Of Madness". And although the day was still young, the band made some good contact with their audience. LABYRINTH had to make up for their cancellation last year. They already played some new tracks from their forthcoming album "Sons Of Thunder" And despite the use of keyboards they played remarkably heavy. For the fans of the more heavy stuff you could see German metal band AGATHODAIMON on the other stage. Their dark metal is very popular in their own country, which showed by the enthusiastic response of the public. This time they brought along their female keyboard player Christine.
ANCIENT is also very popular. Aphazel and Deadly Kristin gave the people exactly what they wanted. Brutal riffs, and death metal that grabs you by the throath. A great promotion for their new CD "The Halls Of Eternity". Deadly Kristin attracked a lot of viewers with her sexy outfit. If their music didn't reach the metal heads, I'm sure her looks did make up for that. I enjoyed both a lot, and who won't like a band that's playing as tight as ANCIENT did this afternoon. On the other stage STEEL ATTACK, a German true metal band, was followed by Peter Tägtgrens band PAIN. Peter was dressed up like Satan, with his head painted red and with a long black coat. Pretty scary, but the industrial metal was not really my cup of tea. While ANCIENT was closing their set, a lot of people were already waiting for ex IRON MAIDEN frontman BLAZE BAYLEY to jump on stage. It was very brave to see that this man simply picked up his life and started a new band under his own name. He didn't change his stage performance too much and next to songs from his current solo album "Silicon Messiah" ("Ghost In The Machine", "Evolution", "The Brave"), he even played a few old MAIDEN songs, like "Man On The Edge" and "Futureal". The audience loved it and so did Blaze. His new album is very well received everywhere and the response from the crowd was enormously today. Probably this was one of the reasons, why a lot of people missed the German band SQUEALER…..and so did we. As we already saw SENTENCED at the Dynamo Open Air festival a few weeks ago, we decided to skip their show and watch SOLSTICE instead. They are a doom metal band from England and sound like a cross between SOLITUDE AETURNUS and BLACK SABBATH, but with just a little bit more speed. Another highlight was coming up, while SOLSTICE was playing their last songs.
LIZZY BORDEN was back and in forty-five minutes he 'shock' rocked the audience like he never did before. Swaying around with his axe and changing clothes every two songs. LIZZY is constant in action. Right from the start he climbed in one of the pilars besides the stage. He also raped a nice young girl and drank her blood like a vampire. This is real cult. For the Wacken public, he even played the titletrack of his soon to be released new CD "Deal With The Devil", next to oldies like "Me Against The World", "Rod Of Iron", "Master Of Disguise" and "Red Rum". At the end of the show he shook down a pillow full of feathers, which made a great effect. LIZZY was back and I hope he will return soon again for some more (indoor) shows. VANISHING POINT came all the way from Australia to present us their power metal. Most of the songs came from their album "In Thought". ENTOMBED changed from a death metal outfit to a bit more straight forward rock band with influences from death metal and punk. And this variation was very much appreciated by the fans. It was a shame that DEMON didn't choose to surprise the fans by bringing the big show , for which they were famous in the early eighties. Now they let the music do the talking. This means a mean attack of hardrock like it was popular in the late seventies and early eighties.
Where DEMON took us somehow a few years back in time, NIGHTWISH wanted to show the public what metal is all about in the new millennium.Their female singer Tarja has a wonderful voice and is a great stage performer. She also knows to hit all the notes right, even the tough ones. Splendid performance! And a good songchoice as well. Cause next to older songs as "Gethsemane" and "Sacrament Of Wilderness", we got a lot of new material to hear as well. Songs like "The Kinslayer", "Come Cover Me" and "Fantas Mic" were played with an unknown enthusiasm, which made this band one of the highlights for the younger fans. Cause we already saw SPIRITUAL BEGGARS play at the Dynamo festival already we went to see HADES. This band knew to impress the public with their technical qualities. Their set was a mix of new songs from their recent CD "The Downside" with oldies like "Rebel Without A Brain". MORBID ANGEL is already to be found on many festivals around the world so here we took some time to get something to eat. That's also why we missed a big part of JACOB's DREAM. Their self titled debut CD impressed us a lot but I was just in time to see that HADES singer joined the band on stage for a spontaneous jam.
Right after that it was time for the one and only rock diva from Germany DORO. She is still very popular in her home country and played a set which gave the public a good overview of her career. The full setlist: "I Rule The Ruins", "Burning The Witches", "Terrorvision", "Metal Tango", "Burn It Up", "Bad Blood", "Dedication", "Für Immer", "East Meets West", "All We Are", the BILLY IDOL cover "White Wedding" and "Ich Will Alles". She even had to come back for an encore called "Eye On You". DORO still rules in Germany and I've never seen such an enthusiastic crowd during the signing hour she did. While DORO was enjoying the biggest part of the crowd, a few die hard metal fans were waiting to see the return of HEIR APPARENT. After an absence for fourteen years they finally decided to come back to Europe. And I must say it all sounded very intense and professional. Time stood still again when we heard songs like "Tear Down The Wall", "R.I.P.", "Decorated", "Keeper Of The Reign" and "Masters Of Invasion". A great comeback to my opinion. Then we were in for another highlight at the festival site. The appearance of ROSE TATTOO turned this festival into one big party. Front man Angry Anderson conducted the band through a long 'best off' gig complete with smashing versions of "Remedy", "Astra Wally", "We Can't Be Beaten", 'One Of The Boys", "Manzil Madness", "Bad Boy For Love", "Rock And Roll Is King" and "The Butcher And Fast Eddy". It was an emotional gig for some people who hadn't seen the band for many, many years. And I can say that the band was in the best shape ever. Also expect a soon release of a live CD from this gig. A gig that can be seen as one of the best of the whole two days festivity. On the other stage they stopped the shows for a while cause the organisation knew upfront that everybody wanted to see Angry & his men rule the festival. And they did. After ROSE TATTOO, everything slowly turned back to normal again. SKEW SISKIN is a band with the same attitude as bands like ROSE TATTOO, NASHVILLE PUSSY, AC/DC and MOTORHEAD. Rock and roll coming right from the heart. Nina is the sexy frontwoman from this band from Berlin. Her voice is raw and she likes to play with the audience. She's like an animal, teasing her public, especially the male part of course, and ruling the stage. The public loved it. But just like with ROSE TATTOO, the biggest part of the public was waiting for the appearance of DEE SNIDERS S.M.F.
Dee replaced THIN LIZZY and did this in his own specific way. This was the perfect return of an evening full of TWISTED SISTER classics, but with a complete new band. Well, that is almost complete new, cause the only remaining ex member besides Dee himself was drummer A.J. Pero. Do I need to give you titles? I don't think so. Everybody should remember songs like "Tear It Loose", I Wanna Rock", "I Am , I'm Me", "Burn In Hell", "We're Not Gonna Take It", "Leader Of The Pack", "Be Cruel To Your School", "The Price"(Dedicated To DORO), "S.M.F." and "I Believe In Rock And Roll". The jokes of Dee were perfect. He mentioned that THE ROLLING STONES hated his version of "It's Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)" and he also told us that this was the very first show of the European tour and it also was the very last show of the European tour. It was after all a very short tour. He shouted at 'the guy with theWiener Schnitzel in his mouth" and dedicated a new song", called "Hard Core", to the man who invented heavy metal: Lemmy Kilminster of MOTORHEAD. A great performance of a great show man. I hope he also will return again soon. Through this hell of a performance we missed some bands like RAISE HELL. Right after DEE SNIDER it was time for a band that was coming to us from the very depths of hell, namely VENOM. They came to the conclusion that it wasn't safe to take any pictures. So I hoped to see a fabulous show again. But that was a bit of a disappointement. Musical wise they were quite good. Their new CD "Resurrection" is a killer and a must for every dedicated metal freak. But I must say that I've seen much better shows from these three English hellhounds. "Black Metal", "Countess Bathory", "Witching Hour", "Bloodlust" and some new songs were played with a lot of musical passion, But whoever saw the show they did at the Dynamo Open Air festival, a couple of years ago, must admit that the few bombs they fired during this show were nothing compared to that show.
Right after VENOM it was time for ZAKK WYLDE's BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. I must admit that his latest album was overwhelming again. I actually hated his "Book Of Shadows" CD. This show made us clear that Zakk is still one of the finest 'new' guitar players in this world today. Especially during classics like "No More Tears" and "War Pigs" he showed the crowd that he must be taken seriously. The man is a true hero and an enormous beer lover. Nice detail however is that he doesn't drink it all by himself, but he also likes to share his beers with his thirsty fans. So a lot of half full or nearly touched beer cans dissappeared into the crowd. This all happened while playing guitar and singing with his own dark brown voice. Then there was a remarkable change in the program. On the stage next to the stage where Zakk played his fabulous performance things were getting very crowded. The festival site was taken over by a girl called CHANTAL CHEVALIER. She was doing a striptease and sex dance show. And it was funny, not to say shocking, to see all these guys that went out of their mind during VENOM and MORBID ANGEL dance on the disco sound that was played during this show. Okay it's still a great sight to see a stripper take off her clothes. But than you are going to a night club and you're not interested in the music they play there. Now you come to a metal festival with so many great bands and you don't expect disco beats and the sound of the music you hated so much in the seventies and eighties. So although the stage was full with a lot of stripping sexy girls, I don't think I want to spend too much words about this performance, or whatever you'd call it. I wanted to watch TWISTED TOWER DIRE but decided not to do it cause we had a very long trip back home again on the next day. And at the time we left the festival grounds, it was Sunday already.
Text: Toine van Poorten
Photos: copyright by Toine and Rita van Poorten.
After this edition of WACKEN OPEN AIR we came to the conclusion that this is just the coolest festival around. Where would you find so many cool names together in two days? Highlights for us were ANGELWITCH, SAMSON, LIZZY BORDEN, ROSE TATTOO, ZAKK WYLDE's BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and DEE SNIDERS S.M.F. That is if you look at the highlights for us as metalfreaks in general. But the ladies did just fine too as you could read in our report. While DORO can still be seen as one of the highlights as well, the next ladies in line are already waiting to take over her place at the top. Ladies like Tarja of NIGHTWISH and Nina of SKEW SISKIN showed already that they were ready for this, although they don't have the experience that DORO has built up through the years. We would like to thank Sheree, Holger, Thomas and Heike and everybody at CMM management for making this review possible and for doing such a great job. We love you for that and we hope to see you guys back next year. Coming home we decided to check out the Wacken homepage on the Internet after a few days. There we already found the first names of bands that were rumoured to play on next year's edition. And we also heard some more names mentioned like WATCHTOWER, MANILLA ROAD, CULPRIT, SKYLARK, DEATH SS, FIST, WILD DOGS, NIGHTCRAWLER, SHOCK PARIS, TRESPASS. For the ladies in metal and rock we can add the name of Ann Boleyn's HELLION to this list. I'm sure it will become another great edition of the finest cult festival on earth. Till next year!!!!!!!!!
METAL FOREVER, Toine & Rita.