WACKEN OPEN AIR --- Germany 1-3.8.2002 ---
One of those festivals you can hardly miss is Wacken. It's a metal fans dream come true. If you're into progmetal, 80'ies thrash, death metal, aor etc, they've got it all ! The problem is which bands are you going to see as there are 3 stages and if you listen to all kinds of music I do, it's quite a puzzle. So again this year I had to choose a few times and leave some of the 80'ies thrash bands out as I'm not into that kind of music much anymore.
Wacken was sold out this year, since they didn't sell as much tickets this year as before. Still the place was pretty packed, at least while Blind Guardian, the German metal fans number one band, was playing.
Some of the arrangements in Wacken just don't seem to work, which amazes me since this festival has been around for 13 years. Well, they've improved a lot since the first year we visited so maybe next year for example the lines might be handled more quickly. It's no fun to stand in the hot sunshine for over two hours waiting to get tickets and passes. So on Thursday when our pack arrived it was hot as hell and we thought we're going to have a great time. But later on the place was covered in mud from hours of raining. It did stop though and just when you had lost all hope while looking at all that mud and thinking of walking in there for the rest of the festival, the local farmers came to rescue and covered the place pretty well with hay. But after a week I still hadn't gotten some of that mud out from my toenails !
BLAZE, the former Iron Maiden singer, was next and I was going to go see him out of curiosity, but I guess it was just too much to ask from me. I've never liked his voice. I heard him from far though and he seemed to play a satisfactory set. I missed the last band, Rose Tattoo, as it was too much fun at the backstage. That's the other "bad" thing about Wacken, there's a lot of great bands and you're not going to see all of them and if you manage to get in the backstage area you can hardly leave as your head is all messed up from seing so many bands at the same time in one place. Of course you can meet these bands on those signing sessions too, but often the lines are just too long. Sometimes you can spot a celebrity walking past you like we spotted some.
You better have a lot of money with you or a credit card since there are tons of cd's, gothic and other clothes, band t-shirts, jewelry and so on and you can even find some rare stuff from there. I always end up spending too much money on cd's, but there's huge sections dedicated to only aor and you can hardly find these ones from the stores in Finland. Of course there are huge sections for other music too. So don't worry, you'll get rid off your money !
Andy McCoy and Mike Monroe of Hanoi Rocks did an appearance for the press and they talked about their new album. The interview wasn't that smooth with all the media, most of the people seemed only to be interested in seing the band members live. So after an awkward silence without any questions from the media Mike started interviewing the people present. My tape seemed too messy to get anything clear out of it, but I'll see what I can do about it.
RITES, PRETTY MAIDS
I had planned to see more bands on Friday like Candlemass and My Dying Bride, but if you stand a whole day on your feet you really start craving for even a second on your butt. It's a good idea to bring a tent chair with you if you don't like sitting in the mud and dirt. Of course we didn't have any and it didn't make it any more ideal to sit in the ground after seing someone had done his "big" business near the Party Stage... I did manage to see CHILDREN OF BODOM though. These fellow Finns did a good job and got a lot of fans to party along their music. By now, at 22:25, there was a lot of action going on after all those beers. But after COB finished we left to the backstage area to find out what was happening there. And it's amazing how you could manage with your own language there ! This year there were more Finns present than the first year we went to Wacken (1998) and then we only met about 3 Finns. Now there were like 50 and more. When we flew back to Finland half of the people in our airplane were from Wacken and most of them were still drunk or having a hangover and were dirty as hell. So you can imagine the faces of the "normal" people and the staff...Add some metal music in there and the party would've continued ! Next year I might not be in that plane...(yeah right..).
Next up was the new finnish band THUNDERSTONE and I didn't quite know what to expect from their show, since their debut album hasn't been out too long. The first songs didn't seem to make much movement in the people, but after a while the place was packed and it was some kind of a surprise to see everyone shouting for more after they finished. The show ended suddenly, it even seemed to surprise the members of Thunderstone. Just when they had finished a song all these roadies came on stage to carry the equipment off stage. They might've as well taken them from the guys' hands while they were playing ! Too bad, I would've loved to hear them play that Yngwie Malmsteen cover "I'll See The Light.." again, because they were excellent in Tavastia in Finland.
FALCONER (left) was yet another a bit more complicated band that still managed to get a good number of people to see them. Somehow the people seemed a bit tired though, after all this was the last from the 3 days and the sun, rain, running around and partying had done their job.
VISION DIVINE (right) played before Edguy in the small tent and it was nice to be in the shadow for a change and cool down. VD had some technical problems and Thörsen left after one song. The show didn't impress me much and looking at Fabio Lione's face he didn't seem to be too pleased either. At the same time Sinergy was playing in the Party Stage.
EDGUY only had an hour to play so they had to leave out a lot of great songs. But they did play "Tears Of A Mandrake", "Fallen Angels", "Painting On The Wall", the incredible "The Pharaoh" and even greater "Avantasia" from Sammet's own band and some good old ones like "Vain Glory Opera" and "Out Of Control". Edguy had great stage sets, that made a cartoon-like illusion of the band. This time Toby wasn't wearing his normal "cowpants", but during the first song he had a "cowcoat" which he threw away 'cos it was probably too much in that heat and in those lights.
Later on BLIND GUARDIAN played a two hour set in True Metal Stage and we just had to go and check it out again to see if this time they could impress us. Nope, the singer still has the irritating voice, though BG's songs are pretty good. These guys are really popular in their home country, they even have their own festival ! I still can't figure out what's the catch here. I like "Bright Eyes" a bit, but the singing ruins it. Some other songs they played were "Journey Through The Dark", "Imagi- nations From The Other Side", "Mirror Mirror" and "Welcome To Dying". There were beautiful fireworks afterwards like in their show in Wacken'98 and the stage sets were great too.
UDO was the last band we saw and his set seemed to be the same as in Finland with a lot of Accept songs and he also wore the same machine-like costume. The other guys had the same coreography as before. Their show was good, but UDO could leave out some of that crowd singing, he did that in almost every song and during one song he made the people sing twice ! That gets a little bit boring after a while. The party lasted till 3 a.m. when Onkel Tom and Haggard finished. The next morning was probably fun for everyone after all that drinking. But we got up quite early and joined the long traffic out of Wacken. It took us about an hour to drive 20 km and when we finally reached the first Mc Donald's for breakfast our group probably ate all the McRib's (well, at least one person...) they had in store and got laughed at when ordering more. Well, heavy drinking requires a lot of fuel afterwards ! After a few days the fatigue started fading and now I feel like a normal person again. Maybe next year we'll do it again. But remember if you're going, you've been warned ! No sleep in Wacken !