Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 3rd and 4th August 2011
|Event:||Wacken Open Air 2011|
|Written by:||Promonex, corrupt, Nefarious, GT|
Wacken Open Air 2011 - Day 3: Saturday by Promonex (168)
Wacken Open Air 2011 - Day 2: Friday by Promonex (131)
Wacken Open Air 2011 - Day 1: Thursday by Promonex (43)
Wacken Open Air 2011 - Day 0: Wednesday & Miscellaneous by Promonex (44)
Welcome to Disneyland! The magical land where Mickey, Minnie, Donald and all your other favourite characters say hello to you year after year, where elaborate props, façades and parades make your childhood dreams become reality. And of course there are also some roller-coasters for those of you who don't care a lot about superficialities and just want to get down to business. Granted, if you come only for the roller-coasters you might be slightly disappointed, but if you are able to soak in the magic of the whole scenery, you are sure to have a hell of a great time!
Oh wait, you wanted to read about the world's biggest heavy metal festival, right? Well, then just replace Disneyland with Wacken Open Air, roller-coasters with bands and Mickey, Minnie and Donald with Tom Angelripper, Doro Pesch and Udo Dirkschneider respectively and you have the perfect description of what Wacken is nowadays: awesome bands and loads of things you don't really need, but which add to the overall atmosphere. Stuff like a Viking village with exhibition fights, more or less funny comedians, a pole-sitting challenge ("Show the world that you have an ass of steel!"), a poker tournament, a mechanical rodeo bull challenge (free of charge for topless female participants) and a wrestling tent with muscleheads hurling each other onto the mat or topless girls "fighting" with gallons of oil involved. And for some extra atmosphere you have inflatables and huge wooden carvings in the shape of The Horns, and fire installations shooting flaming bolts into the air every night. But despite all these allegedly senseless things there's one huge difference between Wacken and Disneyland: Wacken's chief attractions don't suck. The Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne, NWOBHM heroes Judas Priest, the last show of Iced Earth with Matt Barlow, Children Of Bodom, Motörhead, the very last show of Avantasia, Morbid Angel, Triptykon, Kyuss Lives! and a whole lot more are guarantee enough that the 80,000 visitors from all over the world will get their metal infusion alright!
Enough introduction. Let's get cracking!
Table of Contents
- Mambo Kurt
- Bülent Ceylan
- Blind Guardian
- Ozzy Osbourne
Friday, 05.08.2011 featuring Judas Priest, Triptykon, Kyuss Lives!, Apocalyptica, Airbourne, Saltatio Mortis, Morgoth, Trivium, Rhapsody Of Fire, Sodom, Van Canto, Morbid Angel, Suicidal Tendencies, Ensiferum, Primal Fear, Sirenia, Shraphead and The Prophecy²³
Saturday, 06.08.2011 featuring Avantasia, Motörhead, Children Of Bodom, Kreator, Iced Earth, Sepultura, Danko Jones, Vreid, Mayhem, Dir En Grey, Kataklysm, Onslaught, Crashdïet, Moonsorrow, Shining [NOR] and Ghost
Wednesday, the Day 0 of the festival. Traditionally this is the day with the opening ceremonies like the annual Wacken Soccer Cup and the renowned performance of the Wacken Firefighters brass band. It also features the first slew of Metal Battle competitors, an international contest with a worldwide deal with Wacken Records as great prize.
But for most people this is the day on which you just explore the surroundings, be amazed by the vast extent of the campground and all the different nationalities running around, feel annoyed that your camp is half an hour away from the actual festival grounds, meet or make friends or just seize the fact that there aren't any important bands to be missed by eliminating the first few dozens of beers.
Mambo Kurt (W.E.T. Stage, 00:00 - 01:00)
Promonex: One of the many recurrent characters on the Wacken pitch is the Comedian Organist Mambo Kurt. Year after year he rocks the pre-festival day with his unconventional interpretations of metal and rock classics on his Hammond Organ. And things still looked good when he opened his set with Rammstein's "Engel", played to the organ's preset bossa-nova rhythm. Apparently he desperately felt like shaking up his setlist this time around as he didn't only play metal and rock, but also played some atrocious renditions of Take That and Robbie Williams. He also tried his luck with "new" instruments, so other than his trusty Hammond, he got to employ an old Casio keyboard, a Gameboy and a C64. But that was about everything he changed in his routine. He still played most of his staple songs, for example Slayer's "South of Heaven" and System Of A Down's "Chop Suey!", and his announcements have been pretty much the same as in the previous years. The audience didn't seem to mind though and had an awesome time, even up on stage for a few songs.
After the petty introductory gigs of Wednesday, it was finally time for some serious business. The headlining shows by Ozzy Osbourne, Blind Guardian and Helloween seemed to be just perfect for this. But before we got there, we had some more "comedy" waiting for us.
Jim Breuer (Bullhead City Tent, 14:30 - 15:15)
Promonex: Aiming to be in the Bullhead City Tent in time for Kvelertak's gig, we got to catch only the very last minutes of American stand-up comedian Jim Breuer's performance. At this time he was impersonating a few metal celebrities, namely Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio. He's done a good job on all three of them, I'll give you that, and even if he could have done a lot wrong with these three celebrities, his humour seemed to be fairly intelligent. If I hadn't come for the music, I'd almost regret not having caught Breuer's entire show.
Kvelertak (Bullhead City Tent, 15:45 - 16:30)
GT: The festival for me began musically with the Norwegian band Kvelertak. I had seen the name before and read some positive comments here and there, but never really heard any of their songs. The description of their music being a mix of black and punk had made me curious enough to check them out. They played at the Bullhead Stage which is in a tent and the queue to get in was just too long. I found a good spot near the exit though where the sound was decent and I had a nice view of the screen showing the action inside. It was enjoyable and pretty good, even though it got a little monotonous after half an hour. I'm pretty sure that if I had been inside the tent, it would have been another story.
Promonex: As mentioned already Kvelertak's show took place in the Bullhead City Tent. This venue was mostly used for wrestling matches, catfights and your odd comedian. And if it wasn't for the bulky ring in the middle, it would have made for an awesome concert venue, too. The way it was however, you had the stage at one end of the tent, a wrestling ring in the middle, a gangplank connecting the two and space for the audience on both sides of the gangplank. And so it was no surprise that only a fraction of the people who wanted to see the Norwegian up-and-comers managed to get inside the tent. Which was a pity because their show seriously kicked ass! Their black metal-infused hardcore punk worked really well live, and the three guitars and their frantic frontman Erlend Hjelvik made for a thick sound and an energetic show, which occasionally led singer Erlend down the gangplank to meet up with the fans lined up on both sides. Unfortunately the sound wasn't all that great, so the music did get tedious after about half an hour. The show however was some great entertainment indeed.
Skyline (Black Stage, 16:00 - 17:00)
corrupt: The same procedure as every year, James (if you don't get this catch phrase, look here and here for reference). Every year at the same time, the band of Wacken founder Thomas Jensen plays the first show on the big ground on Thursday to officially start the festival. Everything that can be said about this has already been written last year. This year the show was essentially the same, with some more guests and different songs played. Among the guests were Doro (announced as the most beautiful woman of Germany, oh lord) and Udo Dirkschneider (Accept, U.D.O.), both of whom took part in the same show last year, Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger) and Tom Angelripper (Sodom). Doro and Angelripper played their insufferable Wacken "hymns", this year rounded down by yet another one of those, "Wacken Will Never Die" with Boltendahl. The rest of the show consisted of a Gary Moore cover ("Over The Hills And Far Away") and a few Warlock and Accept covers, both with the respective singer. The sound was awful to a point where the vocals were inaudible at times and the drummer had serious problems keeping up with the beat. The same procedure as every year, James. Nuff said.
Bülent Ceylan (Black Stage, 17:05 - 17:35)
corrupt: Well, here's something you haven't heard of: metal festivals giving a slot to local comedians? That hadn't been there too often (OK, as I'm told it has happened in a number of occasions but still not frequently enough not to be puzzled). And there is a reason for that. There's a place for comedy and there's a place for music. And whatever Wacken has become over the years, it's still the music that makes most of us attend every year. Not that metalheads are too grim and kvlt to appreciate some good comedy, but good comedy is hard to find these days. Bülent Ceylan (his real name) is a German with Turkish roots who has had average success in Germany's oversaturated comedy scene. His main selling point is his Turkish attitude, which he uses to drive every single punch line home. And there weren't many of them, let me tell you. For most of the time he spent on stage, he was rambling about everyday-life-situations with a small point here and there to at least make people laugh politely. Then he spent about five minutes doing the Rammstein crowd-raft while a song was playing through the speakers. This whole show was redundant. I'm not saying the guy can't be funny in the right environment, but right there in Wacken he was more out of place than Tarja on the cover of Metal Hammer. And even that one happened once.
During the show of Bülent Ceylan, a high-resolution 175° angle digital image of the festival was taken for all attendees to later mark themselves in an interactive web-app. While this is not essentially relevant for this article, it's still fun to look at for attendees and non-attendees alike. So, for those interested, here is the link to the panorama, that I'm sure we'll see again next year.
Frei.Wild (Black Stage, 17:45 - 18:45)
corrupt: This day just didn't get better. Next up, Frei.Wild from Germany with their uninspired Böhse Onkelz-like German low-life punk rock and their own question why the hell they got one of the big stages. For those unaware, since the split-up of Böhse Onkelz, record companies in Germany have desperately been trying to find the next big combo that bawl rather than sing and speak to the Böhse Onkelz audience with the same simple three-chord main clause music. One of these bands is Frei.Wild, now on the Wacken black stage to bore their audience to death with endless introductions about the supposed background of each song, while these songs weren't much more cleverly titled than "Shut The Fuck Up" (translation by me from "Halt Deine Schnauze"). Frei.Wild are one of those bands that you just don't get if:
a) you're not German
b) you're not already into them
A band with two guitars playing the same stuff all the time and annoyingly stupid bawls instead of singing. But they are also one of the bands that the Wacken team have discovered to be a money well if promoted right. And so they have been playing the last two instances of the festival and will possibly continue to pop up on these stages like Saxon, Motörhead or Doro. And if I may take a peek into the future, they will most likely soon be accompanied by another band of great artists, Betontod that had a poster on every free space of the festival this year.
Setlist:Hoch hinaus, Frei.Wild, Sie hat dir 'nen Arschtritt gegeben, Allein nach vorne, Südtirol, Unser Wille Unser Weg, Weiter immer weiter, Weil du mich nur verarscht hast, Land der Vollidioten, Sieger stehen da auf wo Verlierer liegen bleiben, Halt deine Schnauze, Feuer Erde Wasser Luft
Helloween (True Metal Stage, 19:00 - 20:15)
corrupt: Finally, after all the waiting, a decent band. After technical humps with the stage equipment and three (!) tries to start the show, finally they fixed their problems and could play the first really cool show of the day. Unfortunately for the international audience, all announcements were in German and so all non-natives missed Andi Deris' great jokes. But they all were into the music. The show was quite old-school with drum-solo interlude and lots of singing along. They even played a medley consisting of their most-requested songs such as "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" or "Helloween" (both over 13 minutes long). The weather got better and we had an almost clear blue sky at this point which attributed to the overall mood. Even the camera guys were doing their job for once, actually filming the guitar during a solo. Overall the first real show of the day and a much better way to start the festival than any of the previous ones.
GT: After Kvelertak and a few beers back at the camp it was time for one of the headliners in my program: Helloween. There were a few sound/electrical problems in the beginning, simply cutting of all power two of three times. But when it finally really started it was good or at least the music was. The only problem the show had was Andy Deris, the vocalist; his voice was just not in shape or something like that. Most of the time it was OK, even great, but quite often it was bad, sometimes horrendous! And he talked a lot, wasting a lot of time on nothing basically (or jokes apparently). If he had shut up we wouldn't have missed the last song due to the problems in the beginning. The setlist was pretty good. It had a lot of the good old classics and a few of the newer ones. And all in all it was enjoyable, but not as good as I had hoped for.
Nefarious: Helloween got off to a bad start when technical problems meant they had to restart their first song three times because of power failure. This didn't dampen the mood of the crowd though, and when Helloween finally got going, they did not disappoint. The only real negative wasn't actually to do with the band's performance, but rather Andy Deris' compulsive need to deliver a long stand-up comedy routine completely in German between nearly every single song. I'm not sure if his jokes were any good as I couldn't understand him, but he seemed to find them pretty funny. Considering the time they lost at the beginning, you would expect them to be in a hurry to get through their set but this wasn't the case and it resulted in them cutting their set short which was disappointing.
Setlist: Are You Metal?, Eagle Fly Free, March of Time, Where the Sinners Go, Drum Solo, I'm Alive, Keeper of the Seven Keys / The King for a 1000 Years / Halloween, Future World, Dr. Stein
Encore: I Want Out
Blind Guardian (Black Stage, 20:30 - 22:00)
GT: During the Helloween show I had slowly made my way towards the stage and ended in a pretty good spot. Now it was time for Blind Guardian! It was amazing. From start to finish. Not a single bad song in the setlist, even though they could have swapped "Fly" with, well a lot of other songs. We got the opportunity to sing along to "Nightfall", "The Bard's Song", "Valhalla" and many more that unfortunately have slipped my mind at the moment. It was just really good and even better than I had hoped for, making up for the semi-disappointment Helloween delivered. I was a happy 'fanboy' walking away from that concert, that's for sure.
corrupt: Blind Guardian played the most awesome show in Wacken 2007, leaving people singing the chorus to "Valhalla" for hours after its end. This year, expectations were peaking for they would return to the holy Wacken land to deliver another epic show of power metal. So much for the background story. They started with "Sacred Worlds", a track that wasn't welcomed by the crowd at all, and played a set of their most popular songs with the addition of the insufferable "Fly" and another track from the new album that, again, nobody really wanted to hear. Maybe it's been the audience's lack of appreciation - the band played with the same routine and emotional investment they always show - but this felt like just another show on their tour. With nothing special and the same promotional vibe that any new-album-tour show has. There were small peaks of emotion during "Valhalla" and (of course) "The Bard's Song", but Blind Guardian completely failed to turn this into a bigger feeling and instead played their set devoid of some of their greatest songs that made the last show so special such as "Bright Eyes" or "Script For My Requiem". I can't really say that it was a bad show, the sound was a little heavy on drums and the end was really hasty (as always in Wacken) to avoid being cut off power, but the show itself was really OK. It just didn't live up to the insane performance of 2007 and so, in comparison, was a little disappointing. If they cut out some of the new stuff next time and play a show that is deserving of this audience, they will definitely surprise me again. I'm looking forward to that.
Nefarious: This was my second time seeing Blind Guardian live as I saw them previously in 2009 at Bloodstock Festival in the UK, but nothing compares to seeing a band play in front of their 'home' crowd. As corrupt has already said, their set list was a little weak in places, but there were still some amazing moments. Having tens of thousands of metalheads sing along to "Valhalla" was a spine-tingling experience and a definite highlight of their set, as was their other crowd pleaser, "The Bard's Song".
Setlist: Sacred Worlds, Welcome To Dying, Nightfall, Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill), Traveller In Time, Fly, Tanelorn (Into The Void), Imaginations From The Other Side, Lord Of The Rings, Wheel Of Time, Valhalla, Majesty, The Bard's Song - In The Forest, Mirror Mirror
Ozzy Osbourne (True Metal Stage, 22:30 - 00:00)
corrupt: I'm sure most of you have read the report about Ozzy at Hellfest. I don't really have much to add. The guy looked like he could barely walk, he could barely talk and most of his announcements indeed were "I can't hear you". Which might just be true considering his age and overall shape. Added to that, he presented no movement on stage whatsoever and - I'm not exaggerating here - didn't hit a single note right. In fact, the show could have been mildly entertaining if it hadn't been for the insufferably abysmal singing; pain to my ears and to the ears of most of the people around. The foam gun didn't change any of that. Neither did the simple riffs presented by the band or the redundant presence of the legend himself, Gus G. It is painful to write, even, that the best part of the concert was when Ozzy accidentally knocked some part of his teeth out of and had to leave the stage for quite a while to have this fixed (we later found out that he had his private physician with him all the time) and the band had the chance to play some improv guitar and drum stuff. However, whatever paper you would read in Germany the next day, there was an article about this concert. And all these reporters must have seen a different show by a different band. According to them, the show was absolutely amazing and tens of thousands of people celebrated their idol. Man, I would have loved to see that show. All I saw was either people so drunk they didn't realize what they were seeing or people leaving the festival area embarrassed for Ozzy. I for one hope I never have to endure this again.
GT: Good old Ozzy was, on my plan, the closing concert this Thursday night. My expectations were quite high for this concert as he really amazed me when I saw him in 2005. I was not disappointed, so I guess I was at that other show corrupt was referring to. The setlist had the classics from his Black Sabbath days like "Iron Man", "War Pigs", and "Paranoid", but also some of his own stuff. For some odd reason the highlight of the concert for me was the first of the encores, "Mama, I'm Coming Home". Might be because my grandmother had just passed away a fortnight before, but the song just moved me a lot and I left the concert with an urge to call my mother (which I didn't since it was pretty late).
Nefarious: Dear oh dear how the mighty have fallen. When I saw Ozzy back in 2002 he blew me away, and I was really excited to finally be seeing the living legend on stage once more. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to Ozzy as he could hardly walk, talk or sing. When he wasn't singing horribly out of tune, he was mumbling to the crowd incoherently about how he couldn't hear them or spraying them with foam. Seeing this spectacle was too much and I wanted my memory of Ozzy to be the guy I saw on stage ten years ago, not this, so I decided not to stick around for the second half of his set. What a shame.
Promonex: Looks like the Prince of Darkness divides the minds. I myself have had an awesome time during Ozzy's set, and so seemed most others in the crowd (yeah, even those who were sober). This was mostly owed to the divine setlist which didn't feature any songs younger than 20 years. Ozzy himself however didn't age as well. In fact he appeared like a senile old gaffer who beams with joy when his grandchildren sing Christmas carols to him. Just that he beamed whenever the audience was cheering after each song, and the corners of his mouth went down whenever the cheers faded away because the people were eagerly waiting for the Prince of Darkness to give them another old school hit, resulting in an awkward silence after almost every song which usually didn't get filled by the next song, but by Ozzy exclaiming: "I CAN'T FUCKING HEAR YOU!" No, Ozzy didn't age well. But as it always seems to be the case with beloved grandparents you might feel torn: either you turn away and keep their best times in your memory, or you are grateful for having a gramps who happened to invent the music we all have come to love and are more than willing to give him back a bit of glee by just cheering along while he shares the history of heavy metal with you. And the grand majority of his crowd seemed to belong to the latter group. Which one would you have belonged to?
Setlist: I Don't Know, Suicide Solution, Mr. Crowley, War Pigs (Black Sabbath), Bark at the Moon, Road to Nowhere, Shot in the Dark, Rat Salad (Black Sabbath), Iron Man (Black Sabbath), I Don't Want to Change the World, Crazy Train
Encore: Mama I'm Coming Home, Paranoid (Black Sabbath)
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