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 !


The first band on Thursday was Messiah's Kiss, who play 80'ies metal and they played a good set, though most of the crowd wasn't into it. When Kotipelto entered the stage the clouds started gathering and they didn't look nice at all. There was a storm warning so we weren't able to go in the photopit to take pictures. Roland Grapow introduced the band for the crowd. Kotipelto played almost all of the songs from his debut album and a Queensrÿche cover "I Don't Believe In Love", which they've played in Finland too and "Eternity" from Stratovarius. They had some technical problems which seemed to bother quite a few of the bands. They had almost played the whole set when the rain started and a helluva wind. The lights on stage looked like they're going to drop down any minute and people started running to tents. What a depressing end for a show.

Doro was next and it was still raining. But a lot of people came to see her and her band and they had a good set with old Warlock songs in it. Especially "All We Are" always does the trick for fans. "Bad Blood" (Doro) is one of those sing-a-longs too, which somehow never works live that well. I enjoyed "Für Immer" the most. Somehow bands don't want to play slow songs live and I really miss that. Doro looked really energetic, she was running a lot on stage and she was yelling so hard she almost lost her voice. She made the crowd sing a lot and could've done a better set with doing less of that.

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.


As we woke up after 3 hours of sleeping it was time to check out some more bands. Angra was the first interesting one on Friday for us. They have a new singer Edu (pictured left with Satu) and he did a good job. The set was just too short, so a lot of good songs were left out. This type of music isn't the most popular in Wacken, so at first the band didn't get the best response from the crowd. But later on the Brazilian rhythms warmed up the crowd a little. If you had time you could check out all the stuff there is on sale in the area.

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.


Both had a good show, though I wasn't familiar with the NR songs. With Pretty Maids it's a completely different case. As they've been touring a lot I've had a chance to see them in Finland a few times and they've been to Wacken earlier too. Though they did play a good show, the songlist wasn't my faves. But "Red, Hot And Heavy" works every time. Their showtime was only 45 minutes, which most of the bands had there, so that was a bit disappointing.



Here's a band that always remembers their fans in Germany. This time they had a new singer with them, Damond Jiniya, and he fills Zachary Stevens' shoes really well. They also had Annihilator-guitarist Jeff Waters as a guest. The setlist was good, new and old songs like "Commissar", "Of Rage And War", "Sirens", "Believe", "Power Of The Night", "Hall Of The Mountain King" and songs like "Chance" and "Edge Of Thorns" are a must to hear live. And my old Sava-heart is always touched very deeply when I hear them play "Gutter Ballet" and "When The Crowds Are Gone" live. At least without "When" their set wouldn't be complete. And surely Jon Oliva has to do the singing on the older songs !

If you've seen him live this summer you probably know his setlist. There's Iron Maiden tunes like "Revelations", "Bring Your Daughter..To The Slaughter", "Powerslave" and his own songs like the amazing "Tears Of The Dragon", "The Tower", "Tattoeed Millionaire" and so on. You wouldn't believe a man at Bruce's age would have the energy he has. But even after a lot of shows behind him he still has the energy to run on stage like nothing. The show was better than in Finland this summer, as there were no problems this time. The Germans don't seem to be as big fans of Dickinson/Maiden as Finns are, as there wasn't as much anticipation in the air and the anxiety I felt in Finland. But I was still pleased at Bruce's show.

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..).


One of those great progmetal bands you just have to check out if you're into prog. Unfortunately their show wasn't as good as I had hoped for. At least the singer was in a hangover from last night and he didn't sing too well. Evergrey's music leans towards vocals a lot and that is one thing I like about them. Now it just didn't work that well. They played a lot of songs from their latest album and the last song was "The Masterplan". The background tape with the female vocals shone through too much and it ruined at least the end of the song. There were also other technical problems. But it wasn't a complete mess, a lot of people enjoyed their show. We watched a few songs from VICIOUS RUMORS and they still manage to have a powerful show. I was pleased to hear some classic tunes like "Down To The Temple", kinda funny when you've first heard that song over a decade ago.

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 !

By: Satu Reunanen,
Pictures: Kari Helenius,