Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

March 22, 2001 (São Paulo, Brazil)

Review and photos by Thiago Martins
South American Field Agent for Metal-Rules.com

What do you expect from a HammerFall gig? If this band deserves some title, the most perfect is "live band". I am not a big fan of them. None of their albums has gotten me in a way to buy it. I like some songs, but if it wasn't by Dark Avenger's supporting act in HammerFall's gig in 1999, maybe I wouldn't be here now reviewing this gig. That concert was exceptional, I didn't expect anything, but the performance and everything else were great, so I made a vow that I would never miss another HammerFall gig. Here we are, year 2001 and there I was in another HammerFall gig.

For this time, I had some expectations, and the band surprised me once again. Their last album, RENEGADE, is not receiving good critics as their previous were. I personally can't say anything, since I like none of HammerFall records. But on this gig I was afraid that this unhappiness about Renegade could make the audience not so warm for the new songs, and so the band would not reach up their '99 gig.

Well, there was no reason for that. As the curtains of the venue opened, there were Oscar Dronjak and Stefen Elmgren standing in a heavy metal pose. And so we listened to that intro and the band got on the stage and played "The Templars of Steel". By the way the people screamed on the choruses, I had no doubts that HammerFall was going to have a well-reception again. The following song, their classic songs "The Metal Age", and "Steel Meets Steel", and "Stronger Than All" only showed that the people knew both the new and old songs. The next song was another new one, "Legend Reborn". Amazing, the crowd was singing the melodies in the beginning, the chorus was intense.

This beginning was killer. All the lyrics were known by heart by their fans. It was explosive, it was energetic, it was heavy, it was intense. Joacim Cans proved everyone again that he is one of the best frontmen nowadays, all the band have a spectacular stage performance, the only one that wasn't walking around the stage was the drummer -- do I need to say the reason? Oscar Dronjak was dressed in very weird clothes, a mix of Mad Max and Batman. It was very funny.

This time, the venue, Palace was great. The official name of the venue today is DirecTV Music Hall, but a place with so many good memories of great gigs cannot be renamed! It's the second best place for heavy metal gigs in São Paulo. It's not one of the biggest, but it's enough for the heavy metal fans. The capacity is about 4,000. I think that on this gig there were about 2,500 or 3,000 headbangers.

The sound wasn't perfect, but clear enough for not becoming a problem, nothing I could complain about. The band played all their songs perfectly, except for some problems with Anders Johannson, who wasn't keeping correctly the timing of the songs (maybe he was losing it by making some "amazing-drummer-jokes"). Unfortunately, he wasn't using his 4-bass drum. Magnus Rosén was perfect at his bass, once again. And Joacin Cans is the highlight, he sung perfectly, interacted very well with the audience.

"At the End of the Rainbow" and "Let the Hammer Fall" were played and their mid-tempo riffing was perfect for the crowd to jump together and sing loud the lyrics. Then there were time for another boring drum solo, amended with their very good instrumental "Raise the Hammer". The piano intro showed that "Glory to the Brave" (for me, their best song) was the next one, and it was damn beautiful when the whole crowd sang the chorus alone. In the sequence, they announced that the song were exceptionally played for the Brazilian audience: they played the happy "Dreamland", and the people singing it showed why they put this song for the Brazilian gig. "The Way of the Warrior" and "Legacy of Kings" (this one with a long sing-alone section) closed the first part of the set. During "Legacy of Kings", Joacin appeared on the stage with a sound level meter, so he tried to make a competition between the sides of the audience, and then made the whole venue scream to beat the noise-record. In São Paulo, it achieved 125,6Db.

Suddenly, all the lights were gone and some sounds of motorcycles were heard. The band was back at the stage playing the song title of their last album, "Renegade". The next one, to drive the crowd mad, was "Heeding the Call", one of the most awaited song of the night. To close the set, they played the song "HammerFall" and the concert ended gloriously.

Surprising me, the band got back on stage and, as they did on the previous gig here, everybody changed his gears and once again they played "Breaking the Law", with Oscar Dronjak in charge of the vocals. And so, finally, the concert ended.

Well, once again HammerFall proved me that they are a "live band". There wasn't so many of songs of their last album, so I may conclude that they noticed that they weren't as great for the gigs as their previous were, although the songs from Renegade they played on the concert were very good. The highlights of the gig were "Templars of Steel", "Stronger than All", "Legend Reborn" and "Glory to the Brave". Their songs are way better on the gig, they are more intense, the audience make they sound more fulfilled, they give them more life. This concert I think it wasn't as good as it was the one I've seen in 1999, but one more time the band proved anyone that they deserve the position they are achieving on the heavy metal scene. And they are prepared for even higher posts.

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