70000 Tons Of Metal 2015 - Day Two: On Open Seas
|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)
After a quick cat-nap it was time again to get the show on the road - Day Two of 70000 Tons Of Metal 2015 full steam ahead.
Good Morning Boat
I could have slept a tad bit longer, had I hiked up to the pool deck a couple of hours earlier. The 10am scheduled show was definitely NOT gonna happen and everyone was informed that the Pool Deck stage would be open for business at 6pm. Meaning Trollfest, Corrosion Of Conformity, Destruction, In Extremo and Amorphis needed to be rescheduled.
In hindsight, I was OK with that since it prevented me from having to run from the Pool Deck to the other venues and back for the next 7 hours; since
70000 Tons Of Scheduling Conflicts
Don't get me wrong, I have always enjoyed the diversity of bands on the cruise, and while it would have been nice to see more 'softer' bands (*cough, maybe next year* Rhapsody Of Fire or Gamma Ray */cough*) or even some 'harder' ones (again *cough, next year* Dark Funeral or Vader */cough*), I really, really liked this year's line-up.
Shit, with 60 bands it was way easier to meet my "omg I have to see them" quota but equally hard to schedule which band to see when and where. I did a quick comparison to the prior cruises and while in 2013 my "can't miss" band percentage was 70%, it fell sharply to 46% last year (yeah, sorry, didn't like the line-up in 2014) and climbed back up to 65% for the 2015 Edition of 70000 Tons Of Metal. So, that's 39 bands out of 60; I would have been screwed if they would have stayed with the 40 Bands model.
Tank was my first musical adventure that morning; nice and easy listening 80's heavy metal. While I always enjoyed ZP Theart when he fronted DragonForce, the verdict on him with Tank is still out though. But I really did enjoy watching Sodom's ex-drummer Bobby behind the kit. They played a predominantly 80's set with songs such as "This Means War", "Honour And Blood" and "(He Fell In Love With A) Stormtrooper" which was fine by me. Equally fine was seeing the Swiss combo Gurd right afterwards.
Exactly this is one of the reasons why I dig 70000 Tons Of Metal; being able to watch bands which otherwise would never even consider touring North America. The metalheads in attendance must have felt the same way and when Gurd's frontman V.O. Pulver called for action with "Rule The Pit", a albeit small fraction obliged. I didn't stick around for their entire performance since other than coffee my stomach hadn't seen anything else.
So, while sitting in the Café Promenade and before heading back to the Platinum Theater it was obvious that something other than music was happening on the ship …
70000 Tons Of Merch and Meet 'n Greet Lines
Merch lines; it's bad every year, a lot of people don't even go to bed the night prior so they can be the first in line at 8am when the merch store opens; to say that the line was ridiculous would be an understatement. But hey, Robin and her merch slinger team did the best they could do and with 20 more bands this time around I think they did an AMAZING job. Royal Caribbean did operate separate tables for those who just wanted to buy a Festival Shirt, but placing one of those on the same deck as the Artist Merch was rather confusing at times since one didn't know which line was for what.
Meet 'n Greet used to be in one spot and why the organizers decided to divide the bands among 4 different venues is beyond me. Well, actually 5, since 2 bands had listening sessions for their new albums at Studio B that morning, followed by Q&A's with their fans. In hindsight I wonder how this one went since Security didn't allow anybody with a camera or even a phone, shit, anything that was able to record, into their listening sessions.
Blind Guardian, Apocalyptica, Korpiklaani and Venom had listening sessions for their upcoming album, great idea on paper, but dedicating 1.5 or 2 hours for each band?! To be fair, listening sessions are a thing of the past and doing them was something special, and while I am not one for Meet 'n Greet and signing sessions, a lot of cruisers are and due to the scheduling of bands during the same time, difficult choices had to be made. Click here to see for yourself, but whoever initially scheduled those -
Kataklysm and Napalm Death at the same time in different places; or Venom's thing and Wintersun, and my all-time favorite: Behemoth, Soulfly and Amorphis all during the same time. Thankfully the first 3 (maybe 4?) bands from the Casino were changed to the Catacombs which worked in the end. For me as well, since I just happened to stick my head into the Catacombs bar and found those two icons chatting before meeting their fans.
Nergal and Max before the Meet 'n Greet
Maybe for next year hold all the Meet 'n Greet's once again in an unused dining room? There has to be a better way. Regardless, I ventured back to the Platinum Theater for, what turned out to be one of my highlights of the day, Refuge. Re-what? Hellz Yeah - accompanied by Manni and Chris and dubbed as one of the most successful line-ups in Rage's history, Peavy put the old gang back together. Was it wordplay to name the band after a song off 1993's The Missing Link or was something really missing all those years? Who knows, and quite honestly who cares, Refuge was a MUST for any Rage fan on the cruise.
To be honest, the last time I saw Peavy (70000 Tons Of Metal 2013 with Lingua Mortis Orchestra) he seemed hmmm, let's just say he came over as a dick. Wow, NOT this time around. I swear, each and every time I saw the man he was all smiles, outgoing and mingling with the fans. Maybe the writings were already on the wall back then to end the current chapter of the band; who knows.
"Hello Boat People" - Peavy's way of greeting the audience after they powered through the openers "Firestorm" and "Solitary Man". Fantastic! There really isn't a good English translation to the German term "Unkraut vergeht nicht", but this is how I would describe Refuge. Three dudes getting back together to do what they love.
I got a bit teary-eyed when Peavy told the crowd that it had been over 20 years since the "Tres Hombres" played together and what started as a fun idea (they played an under publicized 'house show') now resulted in the first official gig as Refuge. No new material, but who needs this when you can rock out to classic Rage songs such as "Nevermore" and "Light Into The Darkness". To see what all they played click here
Manni Schmidt played those relics as if he never left the band and Chris was all smiles while drumming along. This was a great debut for Refuge and according to their interview (sorry, German only) with The Blog Of Rock quite emotional for the band as well.
Onward - normally I am not that much into all-female bands but the chicks from Crucified Barbara sure as hell put on a great show. Songs such as "Rock Me Like The Devil" and "I Sell My Kids For Rock'N'Roll" were greeted with much deserved applause and cheers. But since Grave Digger was scheduled to be the first band on the Pool Deck stage I headed up to Deck 11 but not before sticking my head into the Platinum Theater where Cannibal Corpse were destroying everyone's eardrums.
While sipping on a much needed Mojito and watching the crew trying to perform last minute tasks on the Pool Deck it became obvious that the delay of the stage was greater than anticipated. And painfully so when the huge 70000 Tons Of Metal banner was caught in the rather strong wind, became loose and flapped on the top of the stage structure. Scratch Grave Digger, Soulfly was now announced to be the first band on the Pool Deck stage. Did I mention it was already past 7 in the evening by now and the first band should have played that morning at 10? Anyway, I headed back into the Platinum Theater to watch me some Michael Schenker Group's Temple Of Rock.
With Wayne Findlay splitting duties on guitar and keyboards, ex-Tank and ex-Yngwie Malmsteen Doogie White on vocals, and Scorpions's past heavy hitters Francis Bucholz (bass) and Herman Rarebell (drums) in tow, Michael Schenker delivered a flawless set. While great and all, I think he played it safe since the majority of this set were UFO and Scorpions songs and only one song from his solo album Temple Of Rock; "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", which the band dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio. To no surprise, "Rock You Like A Hurricane" had the entire Theater singing along. No clue why they even played this since Michael wasn't even in Scorpions during that time, maybe because Francis and Herman were there; who knows.
While my photographer buddy Matthew was over at Napalm Death in Studio B, I decided to grab me some dinner but managed to catch some of Soulfly's set on the, now finally open for business, Pool Deck stage. Never been a big Soulfly fan but their performance was great nevertheless. Songs such as "Seek 'N' Strike" and "Babylon" sounded massive and of course Max and Co couldn't get away with not playing some Sepultura classics such as "Roots Bloody Roots" and "Arise". While the former was nice and all with Max singing, nothing can compare to Sepultura playing it on Barge To Hell in 2012 - period.
Off I went to watch a band added to the bill while I was already in Florida. No big deal since by now the organizer (Ultimate Music Cruises Inc.) of 70000 Tons Of Metal is known for …
70000 Tons Of Late Announcements
While I honestly don't care who gets announced at the 11th hour, a lot of people do want to know the line-up ahead of time to get either familiar with the band or to bring some merch to be signed. But adding this particular band so late in the game even had me stunned - Wintersun! What kind of marketing expert holds back on a band such as Wintersun But, in all fairness, maybe there were reasons beyond anybody's grasp for announcing the Finns so late.
Or Andy Piller from UMC promised Jari to finally build him his own recording studio (with or without a sauna?). Maybe when Time II finally is released, someone (at this rate probably our grandchildren) should check the credits in the booklet and we will know for sure.
So - yeah - Wintersun; what is there to say which hasn't been said a thousand times before? They are good, Kai is the god behind the drums and Jari is a [insert your own adjective here]. But all kidding aside, the man does know how to play his guitar, write songs and sing them as well; hence the Platinum Theater was packed to the gills. Opener "Sons Of Winter And Stars" sounded … massive and by the time Wintersun played "Land Of Snow And Sorrow" Jari already had the audience eating out of his hands; like I said, dude IS awesome on the guitar. The security had their hands full as well since crowd-surfers came upon them with no end in sight. I actually stuck around almost their entire set since they skipped Denver on their last North America tour.
Back to the Pool Deck I went to watch Venom. I knew that the band was going to play their new album, From the Very Depths, in its entirety, but didn't know which day they would play it through. Luckily their Pool Deck set was the 'oldies, but goodies' one and with over 35 years in the biz I assume the choice on which songs to play was not all that easy for Cronus & Co. And mega thanks to Arch Enemy who loaned them some equipment since the airline lost or misplaced the Venom gear.
Über-long intro and with the strike of the first guitar note came a burst of white smoke and we were greeted with the 1982 classic "Black Metal" before Venom totally switched gears and played "Hammerhead" from 2011. Awesome. "Bloodlust" - check; "Welcome To Hell" - sure; "In League With Satan" - of course; "Witching Hour" - fuck yeah. I could go on and on but one thing is for sure, over an hour of Venom and I enjoyed each and every minute of it.
Next I really had to hurry for the next band in the Platinum Theater. No pictures, no stress; just sitting in the plush seats and taking it all in. Blind Guardian is one of those bands which really doesn't tour North America all that often, despite their popularity. And while Matthew was over at Studio B to witness the craziness of the Origin pillow fight, I was perfectly content with Hansi & Co playing to an almost full house.
Pillow Fight During Origin
Pillow Fight During Origin
When Blind Guardian started their set with "Into The Storm" the audience was chanting and singing along right away and by the time they played the second song ("Welcome To Dying") it was more than obvious that Hansi was not needed at all. I bet about 90% of the people knew each and every word to each and every song Blind Guardian played. Awesome.
Well, he was needed since he was his usual self and provided fun anecdotes to some songs, such as:
- whenever I get drunk, I feel like I am "Lost In The Twilight Hall" or
- people in the back, there are no lyrics so here is your chance - before they finished the below
- and my personal favorite: if you want to go to the bathroom, it's too late now - we are going for the next 15 minutes - "And There Was Silence".
One of the highlights of course was when the intro to "Majesty" came on; you could just feel the energy in the Theater and the same with "Valhalla" as well as the last song of the set, "Mirror Mirror". Looking around after they played the last note, the Platinum Theater was still packed despite the fact that Behemoth already started their set on the Pool Deck stage. I guess this is what you get when you have …
70000 Tons Of Headliners
While the official notion is that there is no headliner on 70000 Tons Of Metal, the unofficial indicator is usually whoever closes the Pool Deck stage on the last day is the 'Top Dog' of the cruise. The problem was that there were so many great ones this year: Arch Enemy, Behemoth, Venom, and Wintersun just to name a few.
Like I mentioned before, I liked many more bands this year compared to last and it was hard to guess whom this honor would be bestowed on. But to be honest, I predicted it to be Blind Guardian and low and behold - they did close the Pool Deck on the last day; and rightfully so! If their performance in the Platinum Theater wasn't an indication enough, I didn't know what else would.
Not taking anything away from Behemoth, but since BG was the icing on the cake for me, and I actually sat on the sideline during most of their set until they played "Chant for Eschaton 2000" since nobody should sit down for this one. It's just the perfect headbanging, chanting, going nuts song. Behemoth was great, as usual, and they did step up their stage show from when they played on Barge To Hell in 2012. I have seen the Polacks about a million times over the years and to be honest, they never disappoint.
On my way to grab a late night (morning?) snack before heading back to the Pool Deck for Ensiferum, I heard Riot V cranking out some tunes in the Platinum Theater. Apparently I missed a rather good set by Suborned but since I was in the mood for some Pagan metal … "In My Sword I Trust"
The Finns are always bringing it and the Pool Deck was hopping. Songs such as "Windrider" and "LAI LAI HEI" are just a few examples of what they played. They also recently announced a North America Tour with Korpiklaani … dear venue owners, stock up on booze. On that note, don't forget to check out the upcoming Day Four article where secrets about Markus and his ex-colleague, Wintersun's Jari, may be revealed.
I opted to stay on the Pool Deck while 1349 was playing in the Platinum Theater to save energy for Municipal Waste. You know it: they gonna fuck you up - and did they ever. It was almost 4 in the morning and what better way to spend it then listening to the Waste. Pure energy, hot tub circle pit; yes, just your regular Municipal Waste show.
Tony was on fire that morning and it was fun when the band stalled and tried to search for shorter songs so they could announce "Happy 420". But seriously, those who were present had a great time and while I was going to check out Jungle Rot afterwards, I opted to just call it a day, night, morning - in short, I went to bed.
Top 3 performances that day: Blind Guardian by a landslide, followed by Refuge and once again a tie for third place with Behemoth and Wintersun.
Stay tuned for Day Three of 70000 Tons Of Metal and make sure to check out the photo gallery from Day Two.
Written on 20.02.2015 by
Former boss lady. Now just a professional concertgoer... dangerously armed with a camera!
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