Older Concert Reviews

 

Metal Cid: Memoirs of Wacken Open air 2000

Cit & Abbath (Immortal)It starts on a cold Monday night in Mexico city. He boards the plane and tries to sit still with memories from other years still haunting his mind. He knows where he's going. He knows what to expect. He knows it will be better this year, as it's always the case.

After landing in Hamburg he meets up with an old friend with whom he's shared much. They hug, they smile and they get moving. Train takes a long time, no German currency in their pockets since all exchange bureaus where closed at that time. They risk it and get on a train to a small village some 40 km from Hamburg. They arrive late at night and start drinking. The night goes away fast. It's Wednesday morning and they know it's starting. They walk to the train station from where the shuttles leave every hour or so. At the bus stop the tension is obvious. Leather, spikes, boots, black clothing and long hair everywhere. They are almost there. As they board the bus car, they are joined by a legion of minds very much like their own, metalheads. They are on the final stretch to their destination:
Wacken. Metal Heaven.
They ride the bus for what seems an eternity and finally they disembark in muddy, grass covered path from where, in the distance you can hear the pounding of drums and the striking of the chords. They are there.

It's late at night now, and the only open place in the festival area is a large white tent from which the music comes. As they walk in, the song changes and one of the most descriptive metal hymns in the world plays. Manowar's Heart of Steel courses through the air, sending shivers down their spines. They look around to an all too familiar scene, metalheads headbanging with beer filled cups in their hands. Everyone knows the song, everyone knows the meaning of it, everyone is a part of it. It has begun.

They drink and meet up with some new friends who invite them to their tents to carry on when the music stops and the beer runs dry in the Headbagner's ballroom for that night.

Mathias and Andreas offer them as much beer as they can swallow just because they are there. Just because they know they are there for the same reasons. They came to enjoy the feeling you can't find anywhere else. The feeling of having thousands of brothers and sisters walking next to you in high spirits. Everyone awaiting that magic moment in which the concerts will start and another edition of Wacken Open Air festival will reach its peak.

As the morning draws near and the bus shuttles are about to start running again, they head back to their home for the next few days. Sleeping all morning to be ready for the next night. As he wakes up he leaves his friend at the hotel and heads to Hamburg to meet up with some other friends that will join them in their adventure this year.

He gets to the airport in time and looks around. There she is. Ice Maiden has come all the way from Portland. Along with her stand Michael de los Muertos, Brad and Dave. Everyone is ready. They made the long and arduous journey here to enjoy the bounties of the festival. Their first meeting is a jovial one, they are glad to be there and they are glad to have new people with them.

The newly formed group now proceeds to get into a rented car that would be their means of transportation for the duration of their stay in German land. They run into a little trouble with a German parking barrier. It just won't open... He has doubts, not about Dave's driving capability but about Michael's sense of direction. This could be a bad idea. Luckily he isn't the only one with that thought in mind and so Ice Maiden is appointed the official navigator. After quite a long drive, the group of newly found friends finally finds their second hotel and checks in. After an eventful night in which they were stared upon by the very cows they were eating in an Argentinean restaurant, they finally turn in for the night.

As they woke up on that fateful day, they all share a common feeling, excitement. It's Friday morning and they're heading to Wacken at last. They pick up the remaining member of the new crew and they drive off to cover that last piece of land between them and their goal.

Upon their arrival upon festival grounds, a familiar figure walks past the car, one of the missing members of the original crew, Cameron. Shortly after they encounter Nick, the absolute last member of the group, and so they are now all there: Ice Maiden, Michael, Cid, Jäger, Nick, Cameron Dave and Brad are finally walking the threshold to metal Heaven.

They settle all ticket issues first. They walk up to a man wearing a backstage access pass around his neck in order to ask him where he got it and where they can get theirs. Ice Maiden gets a funny look and an answer: "I play in a band" Jäger chuckles. After asking again Ice Maiden specifies she wants to know the physical location. The man just vaguely points in the general direction of the press booth. As they all walk away, Michael, Jäger and Cid ask Ice Maiden if she knows who that was... She had just treated Peter Tägtren like a staff member. ONLY at Wacken. They walk for a long time and get to the press booth, then acquire those wonderful backstage passes so gracefully secured by EvilG. He thinks about how much this is going to spice up an already great event.

An enormous crowd cheers on as Mighty Vader takes the black stage and the concerts begin. They can feel it in the air, raw power, so intense they can't help but disband for a while as each takes a place among their fellow metalheads. Some in front, some in the back some in the press area, they all enjoy one of the best concerts of the entire festival.

They move on to the True Metal stage to catch up Samson. In spite of their now advanced age, the show appears quite good and the crowd just makes it all the better.

Dark funeral is up next, the show is brutal, fast paced and marked by one of those mosh pits you really think twice before invading. He looks over his shoulders to see mops of hair all over the place moving wildly as bodies slam against each other in the midst of sweat and sheer adrenaline, what a great show. Running over to the true metal stage again, Ice Maiden and him enjoy Royal Hunt's show more than they would have expected, "this band is absolutely worth checking out sometime really soon" she says. He can't help but to agree.

What is very likely to be the worst show in the whole festival comes up next. Umbra et Imago would at first make him smile, but a short while after he felt a little uncomfortable listening to such crap and watching the goth wannabe holding his flaming inverted crucifix as he "sings". Pathetic he thinks.

October 31 is next, Ice Maiden had spent some time with these guys at the airport before coming here. Great band, great concert, great music but above all great people!

He leaves to get a front spot for the next concert, Marduk is expected, yet, much to his surprise and delight, mighty Abbath comes out saying "OK Wacken, We are back" and thus Immortal takes the stage. This is definitely one of the best concerts in the bill this year. A powerful set consisting of mainly songs from At the Heart of Winter, Damned in black and Pure Holocaust. Withstand the fall of time makes the crow go wild as they headbang and mosh against each other amidst a pool of sweat. Abbath crowns the set with Blashyrkh: Mighty Ravendark to make the crowd scream in that low pitched guttural tone characteristic of black metal. Definitely one of the best sets he has seen this year.

One of the most expected shows of the whole festival comes up next. Rhapsody takes the stage to the sounds of "Emerald Sword". The crowd is electrified as the concert rolls on. The 3 summits of this show are Emerald sword, Land of Immortals and Eternal glory, Lucca Turilli's Guitar work impeccable, he doesn't remember seeing someone play this fast and precisely since Yngwie Malmsteem a couple of years ago.

Marduk is up next, the sheer brutality of this show is enough to make it rank high among the best performances of the festival.

As Stratovarius Takes the stage he thinks about their albums, a bit monotonous and boring to his taste... The live show absolutely blows him away. Impressive. Fast paced, skill filled, emotion ridden. Impressive altogether is what he thinks. His favorite show after Immortal so far. He turns around and walks away as the horde of metalheads swarm around the stage for the next show, Iced Earth is coming up and he knows this will be a show to remember. He walks away into the backstage area to cool his throat down a little bit with a few beers while glancing around at all the celebrities there. Rhapsody walks by, Kai Hansen drinks a beer on the next table, Stratovarius cools down after their amazing performance. This is the life he thinks, this is what it's all about. And it's all thanks to the Gman. Long live Metal-rules.com. He smiles to himself and washes down the remains of his beer since Iced Earth is already playing. He walks up to the middle of the crowd to hear everyone singing Watching Over Me at the top of their lungs. It's just the beginning. Iced Earth's set includes Black Sabbath's Electric Funeral from their Melancholy EP and also to the crowd's amazement and delight, Iron Maiden's The Trooper. This is another huge show he thinks to himself, if only it was a little longer... songs like Pure Evil and A question of Heaven are sorely missed, but then again, every minute of their show represents a fantastic display of the very meaning of the word metal so there's nothing to complain about.

Hypocrisy's show is up next, and one of the moments that will forever stay in his memories. This is everything he hoped it would be, intense and brutal and yet deeply heartfelt so that the crowd identifies with every note from Tägtren's band.

Finally the show all his travel companions have been waiting for comes up. Kai Hansen and company take the stage as Gamma Ray's performance begins. The set is a little bit disappointing but there are some great moments blended into it. The highlight of this concert is Gamma Ray's version of Helloween's I want Out, another one of the metal hymns with which most everyone in the area identifies with.

As the music subsides late in this night, they turn back and slowly walk to their car, ready for a night of sleep and a huge day at Wacken tomorrow. Everybody's mind is swarmed with dozens of mental images of idols, and gods playing on stage for them. Only at Wacken he thinks. They get in the car again, more like cram in it. A long, long drive from the beginning, they are tired and worn, but it is everything they dreamed it would be.

The drive is about 3 times as long as it should be, neither Michael nor anyone else really knows the way back so by the time they're back to the hotel it's almost time to get up again.

They wake up, not even tired, just ready to continue their experience. Time to drive again, but with the road now fresh in their minds, for a much shorter time than the day before. On the ride back to Wacken they all plan their day ahead. So many things to do, so little time. They come into the festival grounds through the VIP access and again they all think about that screen name; EvilG. The festival itself is great, but this is a whole new level. They split up for a while. Some go eat, some go to see Blaze's show, he goes to have a beer. As Michael, Ice Maiden, Jäger and Cid walk towards the VIP area access, they notice a very familiar figure standing in front of them with a beer can in his hand. Maybe seeming a little smaller than he does on stage and his hair tied back in a ponytail, but Iced Earth's Matt Barlow gladly stands with them for a couple of pictures. They still linger on the thought of it when they turn around and every member of Labyrinth walks by them, as does Lucca Turilli. So many of them, not enough time... Everything seems like a dream, it seems like it can't be happening, but it is. And they love every second of it.

They walk past the black stage while Ancient's show roars on. They don't stop this time. They have to see the metal market. They have to see the one place in the world where you could actually find anything you craved for (except apparently Arch Enemy's Black Earth). It's the same all over again, overwhelmed by sheer variety. He wants to reach out and walk out of there with as much as he can carry. Well, spending every remaining cent he has should do for this year.

They hurry back to the black stage to catch Sentenced's show. A fairly good one, but he's disappointed. He misses a lot of the old stuff in their set.

Lizzy Borden is up next in the true metal stage and he just stares half smiling, half wondering. Their show is hilarious, extremely entertaining, but the time is closer now, he is eager to see her so he walks to the backstage area again and has some more beer until Entombed's set kicks in. This is another great show, he thinks. The waves of headbanging metalheads swallow him as he tries to move a little bit to the right side of the festival grounds, starting to head over to the true metal stage to await the next show there. She is next.

Finally he stands in the middle of hundreds of metalheads just looking at the stage. Tuomas is the first to come out, he stands in front of the keyboards and starts playing along with the rest of Nightwish. She is my sin is the first song in their set. The long intro is beautifully done but he's impatient, he searches every inch of the stage for her and finally smiles as she appears. Tarja walks out clad in black and starts singing, finally making most of the people there close their eyes for a second. Her voice is beautiful he thinks. He enjoys every second of this show up until the quintet bows for the audience in recognition for their support. He ponders a moment and runs to the backstage area hoping he can run into her.

It is time to leave, they have to. Everyone stands for a group picture right in front of the huge black/true metal stages. This will be burned into their memories forever he thinks. All of them walk slowly back to the car, none of them really wants to leave, but most of them have to. Most of them. He doesn't...

Ice Maiden and Cid watch as the car drives away, on its way back to Hamburg for a long night of sleep and an early rise in the morning. They turn around wondering what's next. They decide to go eat. As they're sitting, Cid is feeling impatient with all the waiting. She's so close and yet so far away. They move to the backstage area and sit next to the entrance to the only restricted area of the whole festival grounds. He sees her, Tarja... Ice Maiden leaves as Cid talks to Ancient's bass player. They have a friendly chat but Cid wonders where she has gone off to. He waits for a long time and finally sees her walking to him. She leads him to the entrance and they wait. He almost faints as Tarja comes out to meet them. He can't believe it. This crowns Wacken. They hang out backstage for the longest of times, it's getting late. He despises the thought of leaving. All these persons. Everyone of them is a God in his or her own right, they have that look in their eyes. The look that tells they are happy with what they do and who they are. They are part of the feeling in his heart. And he hates to leave them.

In spite of all, he feels content as they walk off to take the taxi that will take them back to the small village from where the train to Hamburg leaves. As it has been the rule of the past few days, one of the members of the staff offers them a hand in the form of a ride to the taxi stand. They all know what it means to be here. They know that even though they don't know each other, they all share a common point inside their souls. They stare at the long hair, at the leather and the spikes. They stare at the sweat covered faces and at the black boots. It's coming to and end.

It's the last glimpse they will get of this camp for a long time. And as they leave their oh so loved Haven behind, not to see it again (for an entire year) they go comforted only by the thought that there is no better way to go than beside good friends. And that's what the spirit of Wacken Open Air is all about. It's not only a place where people with the same taste in music get together to enjoy their favorite bands. Wacken Open Air festival is a place in which once a year, soul brothers and sisters from all over the world gather to remind the world that the thing that makes Metal the unrelenting force it has always been, is the fact that they stand together. We Stand together. So as the sun sets and Darkness covers the land, every soul that leaves the festival site does it in contempt, grinning down at the last pages of their program and running order flyer:

THANKS TO ALL YOU METALHEADS
W:O:A
2001
03.+04.08.2001
ticket sale starts at 01.09.2000

And thus Ends the millennium edition of Wacken open Air festival. But it doesn't really end, it just sets a sign pointing at the horizon. Pointing at next summer's bash. And for those of you who wonder what the sign says:

FASTER : HARDER : LOUDER
In Metal we trust.

El Cid.

 

 

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