@ O2 Academy Brixton, London
14th November 2017
Review & photos by Oliver M.
One year after a good live performance at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London, Power metal legends Helloween went back to the capital on Tuesday 14th of November for a very special concert. The Germans are currently touring throughout the world to celebrate the return of founding member Kai Hansen and vocalist Michael Kiske.
The Pumpkins United World Tour was announced at the end of last year and all fans were extremely excited about it. I fully understand them as I’ve been waiting for their return for ages. Kai Hansen is considered to be the godfather of power metal and Michael Kiske is one of the genre’s best singers.
Regarding this musical style, they’re not the first band to do a world tour in order to celebrate the reunion of their original line-up. Actually, Symphonic Power metal masters Rhapsody started their 20th Anniversary Farewell Tour last year and it seems this gave some good ideas to Helloween.
At last! The reunion of their original line-up was definitely the best news their fans could get. As expected, this London show was their only UK date, which is a shame. This is due to the low popularity of Power metal music in Great Britain of course.
I hope mentalities will change there someday but I’m not confident about it. Strangely, local acts such as Dragonforce, Power Quest and Gloryhammer are still very popular here, even more than the German ones, who are the most commercially successful worldwide.
It’s a true fact that British metalheads have always strongly supported their scene. Anyway, this gig was a great success with many fans coming from all over the country to see the band. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sold out but it was well packed.
It was the first time I went to the O2 Academy Brixton and it’s really a massive, excellent venue. The sound quality is impressive and I love the inside architecture with those Greek pillars.
Obviously, there were far more people there compared to their previous show at the O2 Forum Kentish Town last year, when they were promoting their latest album “My God-Given Right”.
Helloween performed a very long set to perfection, spanning their entire career. There was no support band and as a consequence, the band offered almost 3 hours of pure power metal madness to the audience. They surprised everyone by proposing Robbie Williams’ hit song “Let Me Entertain You” as an intro.
I don’t have any problem with that choice since I like the song. We could even see a photo of Robbie, taken from the famous video clip in which he’s wearing make-up like the Kiss musicians. That was unexpected!
Then, the Germans conquered the crowd instantly by delivering three classics of the genre “Halloween”, “Dr. Stein” and “I’m Alive” from the great masterpieces “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I & II”. It was an immense pleasure to finally see Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske playing with Helloween again!
All musicians gave an incredible live performance to the great satisfaction of their fans. Despite being 49 and having lost his hair, Michael Kiske is still in great shape! His high-pitched, beautiful voice has influenced so many vocalists within the metal scene through the decades and is still very impressive given his age.
I was a bit worried about him in the beginning since he had some health issues last month during their Latin American tour but everyone was relieved that he had fully recovered. He even declared to the fans he was very glad to come back to the band, finally after 23 years!
Being much older than Michael (who is 54 years old), Kai Hansen was also very impressive on stage. He performed guitar solos flawlessly and provided some good vocals on a few songs. We could even feel the touch of Gamma Ray during some parts, which was very pleasant!
Guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner were brilliant as well and I really love the way they played the solos all together. They worked in perfect harmony. By the way, Dani Löble (former member of amazing power metal act Rawhead Rexx) delivered an excellent drum solo.
I really wonder why he always uses four bass drums. To be honest, it’s completely useless to use two additional bass drums but I find that funny though. Moreover, Andi Deris surprised me again as I’ve noticed he’s progressively improving on stage every year.
For many years, I’ve been disappointed by his voice since he was never able to perform high-pitched vocals properly, but this time his vocals were in perfect symbiosis with the ones of Michael. (Especially on the stunning ballads “Forever and One (Neverland)” and “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”).
The duet Deris/Kiske worked successfully and made this show absolutely unique! The only negative point was the presence of “Are You Metal?” in the setlist. In my opinion, this is the weakest song that Helloween have ever written, due to its uninspired and disastrous chorus. They shouldn’t have chosen it.
However, it was interesting to notice they played “Kids of the Century” from the “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” album which was a commercial and critical failure at the time of its release in 1991.
To close this amazing concert in apotheosis, they offered four Power metal hymns “Eagle Fly Free”, “Keeper of the Seven Keys”, “Future World”, “I Want Out” and loads of balloons were sent from the stage to the pit so the fans could play with them! Monumental.
Other than that, I enjoyed seeing many intermissions on a giant screen, including some nice, funny cartoons of two little pumpkin-head monsters. They were very well done!
Furthermore, the band had the great idea of paying tribute to their former drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg by showing a video of a drum solo he did when he was alive. A beautiful tribute to remember a great musician.
Huge thanks to Helloween for such a fantastic show and making this exceptional tour possible. It was truly epic and that London concert would deserve to be released as a live DVD in the future. I sincerely hope to hear Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske on the next album. It would be another great present for the fans. I want it again!
Intro: Let Me Entertain You (Robbie Williams song)
1) Halloween (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
2) Dr. Stein (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
3) I’m Alive (with Michael Kiske)
4) If I Could Fly (with Andi Deris)
5) Are You Metal? (with Andi Deris)
6) Kids of the Century (with Michael Kiske)
7) Waiting for the Thunder (with Andi Deris)
8) Perfect Gentleman (with Andi Deris)
9) Starlight / Ride the Sky / Judas (with Kai Hansen)
10) Heavy Metal (Is the Law) (with Kai Hansen)
11) Forever and One (Neverland) (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
12) A Tale That Wasn’t Right (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
13) I Can (with Andi Deris)
14) Drum Solo (Dani Löble & Ingo ‘battle’)
15) Ingo Tribute
16) Livin’ Ain’t No Crime (with Michael Kiske) (partial)
17) A Little Time (with Michael Kiske)
18) Why? (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
19) Sole Survivor (with Andi Deris)
20) Power (with Andi Deris)
21) How Many Tears (with Andi Deris, Michael Kiske & Kai Hansen)
22) Eagle Fly Free (with Michael Kiske)
23) Keeper of the Seven Keys (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
24) Future World (with Michael Kiske)
25) I Want Out (with Michael Kiske & Andi Deris)
Outro: Braveheart (Movie Soundtrack)