70000 Tons Of Metal 2015 - Day One: Off We Go
|Event:||70000 Tons Of Metal 2015|
|Written by:||D.T. Metal|
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2015 - Day Four by D.T. Metal (251)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2015 - Day Three by D.T. Metal (265)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2015 - Day Two by D.T. Metal (313)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2015 - Day One by D.T. Metal (243)
Now that my driveway has been cleared of snow more than once, surely but slowly my Post-Cruise-Depression is subsiding as well. Yes my friends, it's that time of the year - another 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise has been lived through.
By now you all know the drill, before I get into the nitty gritty of happenings, here are some statistics of this year's, once again SOLD-OUT edition. By all counts it was also a maiden voyage of sorts; since, new ship, 1000 more people, 20 more bands. After the final tally, metalheads from 70 Nations made their way onto the ship - impressive.
Top Ten Countries: USA, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia & Finland (tie), Colombia, Mexico, Norway, The Netherlands.
Number of guests: 3114 (age range from 1 to 74)
Musicians and crew: 944
Ship crew: 1312
Total number of people on board: 5370
While the captain of the Liberty Of The Seas did not give us a count on alcohol consumption, I found some interesting facts on a sheet he handed out. During a regular cruise, they sell the following on beer and whiskey in a week. Might as well triple or quadruple those stats to come even close to our numbers:
Beer (bottles): 10,700
Beer (cans): 8,500
Whiskey (bottles): 200
This little 'fun fact sheet' also stated that they usually serve 18,000 slices of pizza per week - haaa, no wonder they couldn't keep up with the demand. More on that later, but to say that the Pizza Place was overwhelmed is an understatement!
Anyhoo, when I left, the weather at home was actually not all that bad, but it sure as hell was way nicer when I touched down in Florida. Party mode on! Even though the cruise left (for the first time, and probably from hence forth) out of Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades, I do prefer the 'scene' down in Miami and after stopping by at the Iron Maiden drummer's restaurant (Rock 'n Roll Ribs) for a late lunch, off we were to South Beach! Somewhat bittersweet though, since a lot of my friends and acquaintances did opt to move the pre-cruise happenings closer to the port and commenced to take over the 'retiree stronghold' of Hollywood Beach, FL. Nevertheless, tons and tons of cruisers did choose to stay in Miami and due to this split, we actually got to enjoy not one, but two kickass beach parties.
While the party in South Beach is always fun, this year's second one in Hollywood Beach, FL was nothing but fabulous as well. Some cruisers took over an entire hotel complex and made it 'ground zero' of all things 70000 Tons Of Metal. Really cool since this little hotel had an onsite tiki-bar - enough said. The entire hotel grounds, boardwalk, and beach were taken over by a sea of metalheads. The Heathen boys showed up at one point and Korpiklaani's tour manager probably felt like he was herding cats; since - well, if you never partied with the Finns you wouldn't understand.
Cops were called by some frightened neighbors, which resulted in … party with cops … they saw we were just there to have a great time and not to cause any trouble.
Town of Hollywood Beach, FL - you are welcome for the economic boost and please make sure you don't run out of beer if we decide to invade your town next year!
Beach parties in Miami, FL and Hollywood Beach, FL - Images by Photo-Jagla.de
Off Topic: I decided to stay in Fort Lauderdale, FL the night before the cruise and was thrilled to find Primal Fear's Alex and Ralf sitting in the breakfast room of the hotel in the morning. Michael Schenker's gang stayed in the same hotel as well, and so did the dudes from Einherjer and Behemoth. The absolute pleasure was to share the hotel's smoking area with Lake Of Tears; those guys took the cake that morning. Not overly familiar with them, I told their bassist that I heard it all depended on which set they would play, if they sucked or rocked. Laughs all around but since they did play on the first day, after about their third song, he saw me and motioned or which I happily replied with a thumbs up.
70000 Tons Of Waiting
Holy crap. I get it, Port Everglades is a huge industrial shipping port and not just a means for touristy cruise ships. But standing in line for roughly 90 minutes plus to board the ship was ridiculous. And to add insult to injury, it didn't get better leaving the ship after the cruise.
Homeland Security and Port Authority - get your shit together!
Pro-Tip: next year get to the port after 2pm or even later and stay (and sleep) in your cabin until the crew literally (figuratively?) throws you out. Since waiting, and waiting, and WAITING in line to disembark was even worse. Maybe it would also speed up the process if there would be more than 3 customs counters open - just saying.
The ship: impressive is an understatement. Since all other 70000 Tons Of Metal cruises were on her Majesty Of The Seas, this one was new to everyone, but to be honest it didn't take that long to navigate the Liberty Of The Seas; at least not for me. To bring the size of the ship into perspective: when measured from waterline to the top of the funnel, the Liberty Of The Seas towers 208 feet (63.4 m) tall, which is almost the same height as two Statues Of Liberty's placed head to toe. The Royal Promenade on the ship stretches longer than an American Football field, running 445 feet (135.6 m) down the center of the ship.
70000 Tons Of Stairs
Two of the venues were on the same side of the ship; the three-story Platinum Theater (decks 2-4) and the intimate (read: small) Sphynx Lounge (deck 5). To get to Studio B (deck 3), which was the ship's ice-rink converted to a venue, one had to walk three-quarters across the length of the ship and down one flight of stairs. While the Pool Deck stage (deck 11) was about in the middle of the ship, one still had to be on one side or the other to take the stairs or wait for an elevator. Good thing I brought my running shoes; the amount of walking I did during this week was … let's just say I noticed that I am criminally out of shape.
70000 Tons Of Spinal Tap
This year 18 trucks of equipment had to be loaded, distributed, and what-not-ever to the different stages. And trying to build the World's Biggest Stage on a ship is no easy task and 70K was always plagued with delays of their Pool Deck stage. But with a new ship and a different pool deck layout the organizers tried to nip this in the bud. When the final running order came to light it stated that the Pool Deck stage would not be ready that night, and the first band was scheduled at 10am on the second day … wellll about that.
According to the press meeting, in which I may or may not have been napping - it was Day 4 after all ..., apparently the structural engineer in charge of building the Pool Deck stage took on a different job but was available while the ship was still docked to make sure things got off to a good start. The dufus who took over apparently read the blueprints upside down and by the time it was noticed there would have been still time to rescue the operation. But partially due to strong winds at sea and since someone fucked it up AGAIN the whole stage and floor in front of it was still under construction well into the next … EVENING. Seriously, one can't make this shit up!
But, I am jumping way ahead of myself, so let's start with the happenings of Day One.
Boarded, explored the ship, enjoyed my first of many beers, was surprised on how quick the mandatory safety drill went by, witnessed the first ever wedding on board and headed over to watch Helstar. What? Wedding? Yes Sir. Two veteran cruisers tied the knot while we were still docked in Fort Lauderdale. Congrats to Sheila and Ken Steeves
Even though Helstar played in the smallest venue on board, the energy in the room was vibrant. I bet everyone was ready to get the festival started, and those who didn't sing "Wirtshaus Gaudi" along with Equilibrium, who played at the same time at Studio B, seemed to enjoy James Rivera's high screams in "The King Is Dead"; the man still got it after all those years. I actually snuck out right after this song since there was no way that I would miss the first band of the evening in the Platinum Theater - God Dethroned. Awesome, just plain awesome! Songs such as "The Art Of Immolation" and "No Man's Land" went down like butter.
Complete Setlist: Sigma Enigma, The Art Of Immolation, No Man's Land, Villa Vampiria, Through Byzantine Hemispheres, The Warcult, The Killing Is Faceless, Soul Capture 1562, Fallen Empires.
One of the highlights was when Izegrim's Marloes Voskuil came on stage to
Anyway, the place was pretty packed with several of their peers watching the show as well. Please take the time and check out the video below, since Venom's Cronus REALLY explains why 70000 Tons Of Metal is so awesome and why a lot of metalheads make this a part of their annual pilgrimage and also why so many bands are repeats on the cruise.
Please check out The Blog Of Rock and be so kind and subscribe to my colleague's YouTube channel
In order to check out the ship's sit-down restaurant I skipped Pretty Maids, Einherjer and Therion but since each band plays twice on the cruise I had the opportunity to see them on a different day. Hmm, new ship, awesome looking restaurant, but unfortunately the food, while good, was nothing mind-blowing. Scheduling dinnertime was also rather difficult this year due to the amount of awesome bands playing, therefore this was the only time I was able to visit the restaurant all week long. No big loss, maybe next year I will try some of the surcharge ones; I heard the Steakhouse was really good.
Luckily, Matthew Zinke over at Matthewknowsphoto was once again part of team Metal Storm and was able to bring you some visuals from the bands I missed; sans Einherjer.
I stuck my head into the Lounge for Enthroned, who played for a rather small amount of people, but since their set overlapped with Annihilator I really wasn't surprised. Studio B was packed to the gills for the Canadian Thrashers; holy crap. I don't know if people left early to catch the beginning of Arch Enemy's set, but it didn't look like it. Songs such as 1993's "Set The World On Fire", 1996's "Ultraparanoia" and of course "Alison Hell" off their 1989 debut album Alice In Hell turned the room into one giant mosh-pit. Kickass! Check for my thoughts on their second performance on the Pool Deck.
I had just seen Arch Enemy when they toured with Kreator and truth be told, I couldn't get into Alissa as their front screamer; something felt off. Boy did she prove me wrong on the ship. The little I watched before heading over to Threshold was phenomenal. Her performance was top notch that night and seeing Jeff Loomis on guitar was an added treat. Somehow, over the last couple of years, every time I watch AE, their guitarist either quits or is unavailable and Michael Amott's brother Chris is there to the rescue.
Threshold was actually really good, but due to the low stage and stupid lighting I really didn't hang around the photo-pit for that long. While I did like the smaller lounge on prior cruises, this one just sucked; period. I think other than Heathen and Lake Of Tears later in the day, I didn't watch ANY other bands in there.
Kataklysm, next on the program, almost brought Studio B to its knees, but since I already penciled it in to watch their set on the Pool Deck on Saturday I took a couple pictures before heading back up two decks across the ship - did I already mention the amount of walking I did?
Heathen was getting ready to play in the Lounge and while their set was good, I preferred their second one in the much bigger Platinum Theater on Sunday. But hey, I haven't seen them since they toured with Destruction a couple years back, and therefore I stayed for the entire set.
Apocalyptica were playing in the Platinum Theater but just as with some other bands, I already had planned to watch them on another day. Matthew was present to snatch some visuals and he said they were really good.
So, after some Bay Area Thrash I made my trek back the way I came, back into Studio B to watch me some Korpiklaani. The Finns never disappoint and it was party-central to say the least. Trouble played at the same time over at the Lounge, and while it sucked that I missed them, I fully planned on watching their next set.
I had just seen Primal Fear not that long ago and was actually pretty excited to check out how their new drummer Aquiles Priester faired, since Randy Black used to be the man behind the kit for so many years. Fantastic!
Stage lights off, 2 min or so intro and Ralf & Co. jumped right into "Final Embrace", off their 1999 album Jaws Of Death and didn't take no prisoners thereafter. Ralf Scheepers greeted the audience with "Good Morning 70000 Tons Of Metal Maniacs" before continuing with "Nuclear Fire" and "Unbreakable". Primal Fear gave the audience some room to breathe with the awesome ballad "When Death Comes Knocking" off last year's album Delivering The Black before going all out again with "Angel In Black".
Frontman Ralf always encourages the audience to chant along and this time was no difference. Yay, Yay and more Yay's was the standard chant before the band almost brought the house down with "Chainbreaker" off their 1998 self-titled debut album. "Metal Is Forever" was clearly the understatement of the decade and Primal Fear left the fans yearning for more and more. Long considered one of the 'bucket list' bands for 70000 Tons Of Metal, I hope their presence was not just a onetime stint. Absolutely brilliant performance, except …
70000 Tons Of Strobelights
As I recall, last year was the first time that the strobe lights were excessively used, in the small Spectrum Lounge for that matter, and this year UMC apparently hired the same person plus some of his relatives. Fuck me to tears! It really didn't matter which band was playing, the strobes were apparently operated by a person with no regards to personal safety. Even if the band had their own crew for the lights, some (or all) strobes were clearly pointed directionally in the wrong way.
There were times when I had to close my eyes just so I wouldn't get dizzy and fall down. Upstairs in the Platinum Theater, depending on where one was sitting, it was almost impossible at times. Got it - these days strobes are a major part of the visual performance, but holy shit. While I have no clue if they were part of the equipment for regular cruises or if they were installed specifically for 70000 Tons Of Metal, but as a plea for future ones - less is sometimes more.
So, while Matthew went to Studio B to catch some Melechesh, I headed back … over the hills and through the woods … nah, this time I only had to climb one set of stairs to reach the Lounge to watch my 'hotel smoking buddies' Lake Of Tears. As I mentioned earlier, I gave the bassist a thumbs up on their performance; I liked it. Maybe people with more knowledge of their music can judge this one better; below is their set-list for the night.
Set-list: To Die Is To Wake, A Foreign Road, Raven Land, Boogie Bubble, Cosmic Weed, Demon You / Lily Anne, Hold On Tight, Sweetwater, Headstones, So Fell Autumn Rain.
Due to a detour to grab a late-night snack, well early morning, since it was already past 3am, Alestorm was already playing by the time I made it back into the Platinum Theater. Songs such as "Walk The Plank", "Wooden Leg!" and "Keelhauled" would make no sense if performed by someone else. Always, no really … ALWAYS a party when Alestorm is on stage. Even though it was almost 4 in the morning, the room was packed and even Kataklysm's Maurizio Iacono was standing side stage to watch the action.
This would have been a nice ending to an awesome day if it wouldn't have been for a band I was dying to watch; Exumer. Call me seriously nostalgic, but I have a soft spot for 80's thrash metal, especially if said thrash comes from Germany. Yeah, so Exumer only released 2 albums in their heydays and tried to resurrect their career in 2012 with Fire & Damnation.
There have been rumors for a follow-up album for quite some time, but since it took them 25 years to release this one, I am not holding my breath. Yo, Mem Von Stein, please prove me wrong! Regardless, watching Exumer live around 4 in the morning surrounded by, unfortunately only a handful of like-minded metal heads, was an experience which I will treasure for quite some time. We all probably felt "Possessed By Fire" while "Rising From The Sea".
As much as I wanted to check out Masacre (COL) who played afterwards in the Platinum Theater, I decided it was time for a night-cap and I called it a day. Dark Sermon actually ended the first day on board, but … yay, -core, definitely not my preferred genre and especially not before trying to catch some .
Top 3 performances that day: hands down Primal Fear followed by God Dethroned and a tie between Annihilator and Korpiklaani.
Stay tuned for Day Two of 70000 Tons Of Metal and make sure to check out the photo gallery from Day One.
Written on 12.02.2015 by
Former boss lady. Now just a professional concertgoer... dangerously armed with a camera!
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