Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

EDGUY - Australian Tour 2002
Review by Brat
Photos by Brat, Leisa and Dungeon


Tuesday night before the first Edguy show Australia was introduced to Tobias Sammet via a national radio interview. He was talking from Japan. As I listened to the interview I was a little disturbed at the way Tobias kept referring to metalheads as ‘he’.

The next day, the full excitement of Edguy coming to Australia hit me.

Three hours before the in-store I felt as though I was going to have a heart attack. Sydney being quite small, I’ve had the opportunity to drink with the best: Whitesnake, Skid Row, Gunners, Ugly Kid Joe, The Damned, Nevermore - but I haven’t felt this excited since I was a teenager screaming at a Duran Duran concert in 1983. (Yes I know, there goes my credibility.)

I was glad I wasn’t the only person in need of valium-most of the guys I’d spoken to were all as excited. The fact that we never imagined Edguy would come to Australia, and that it was happening now added to the excitement.

For most, this was a dream come true-an opportunity of a lifetime. So much so, that people travelled from Brisbane (12-hour drive), Melbourne (10-hour drive) and New Zealand (another country). My mobile has never rung so much and my armpits sweat (yes, girls sweat) so much in anticipation, 48 hours leading up to their arrival, that no amount of antiperspirant seemed to help.

But enough about my hygiene practises. Let’s get to the reason you’re reading this review…

Thursday, May 9 2002

1020 Australian eastern standard time (EST) I received word from the crew: “They’re here!”

1600 I arrive at Utopia (home of heavy metal in Sydney) and meet up with my friends.

Edguy were fabulous at the instore. They were so warm and chatted with everyone. I was one of the first in line to get my stuff signed and (I think) Jens was a bit surprised and said "How much stuff have you got?" I had all the CDs, 2 single CDs, Mandrake vinyl and the tour poster. Anyway, I was really grateful they signed my whole collection. *THANK YOU, EDBLOKES!* After the formal part of the instore, the Edguys came out from behind the counter. Some bought a couple of CDs and they continued to chat with fans and pose for photographs.

 

Bar Broadway, Sydney, New South Wales

Many of my friends hadn't really heard Edguy’s music, but went because they love metal. Half of the crowd consisted of Edguy virgins who turned up to see Dungeon and Vanishing Point.

First band on was Enter Twilight. Unfortunately, due to the early start of the night, I didn’t catch any of their set but did get a chance to see them in Melbourne.

Sydney band Dungeon were next on the bill. This band never disappoints and Australian metalheads know it by honoring them with their loyalty. Described as melodic power metal, Dungeon’s sound now has more of an edge-the result of a new guitarist who joined them last year and new material from their forthcoming CD Rise to Power.

Their set list consisted of No Way Out, Netherlife, Wake Up, The Hellion/Electric Eye (a Judas Priest cover), Insanity's Fall (from their forthcoming release), The Legend of Huma, Resurrection and Judgment Day. Due to time restraints their set was cut short after Judgement Day with the crowd bon voyaging the band with hands and fists raised in the air and chants of “DUNGEON! DUNGEON! DUNGEON!” echoing through the venue while the band walked off the stage and the curtains closed.

Not many Sydney metalheads had seen tour co-headliners, Vanishing Point who were performing their second gig in Sydney (the first was in ’98 and to a crowd of about a dozen people). Known predominantly by their overseas reputation, Vanishing Point’s performance received much interest.

Their set started with Two Minds One Soul, followed by Closer Apart and Samsara during which Animal’s (a name bestowed upon Danny by Gamma Ray) keyboard stand began to collapse. At first I just thought he was being creative-some keyboardists have their keys facing the audience so their playing is visible-but then it was evident Dan’s keyboards were collapsing, especially when he started balancing one of them on his knee.

Unfortunately, standing in the front row was not the best for sound, so during Father (7 Years) I made my way to the raised area behind the mixing desk where I listened to Bring on the Rain and I Will Awake. Before Surreal started, Silvio (the singer) introduced long-time friend and singer of Melbourne band, Arkaya, as a guest vocalist. Listening to the duet, I always feel it would sound so much better if rather than singing alternate lines, Silvio and Gio sang harmonies. Don’t get me wrong-their voices are perfect, but the combination of both voices in harmony would just showcase maximum talent.

Next was Inner Peace originally from their debut CD, In Thought, and included on Tangled in Dream as a bonus track. By the time the last chord of Never Walk Away was struck the crowd was applauding as loud as they had been for Dungeon.

Vanishing Point had earned themselves about 300 new fans.

Finally, the time for Edguy to appear on stage was approaching. As there was no pit from which to takes photos, I squeezed myself between the stage and the front of house speaker to minimise being pushed around by the crowd. I had three songs to take my photos-I didn’t need any more obstacles.

After much chanting of “EDGUY!”, the curtain drew back and our eyes were filled with an empty smoke-filled stage. The intro began and Edguy walked on stage to their adoring fans all fighting for front row.

Let me describe Bar Broadway for you. It’s on the second level a pub. It is licensed for a maximum of 250 people. There’s a small bar and two pool tables either side of the stage outside the dance floor area. The railed off back level is 3 steps up and contains padded seating against the wall with padded cushion-type chairs and scattered tables for drinks. The moderate-sized stage comes up to your knees-that’s it. The few security guards looking after the stage were bent back about 45 degrees during the whole show as the fans pushed further forward to shower in the sacred sweat of Edguy.

The set started with Fallen Angel then continued to Tears of the Mandrake without pause.

Third song in the set was the song that introduced me to Edguy and it was no wonder that it was my most anticipated and favourite of the night, Babylon. As I reloaded my camera, I allowed my ears to absorb the harmonies coming from Jens’ monitor directly under me. Each song had more energy, the playing was flawless and the vocal harmonies (my strongest criticism) ran shivers up my spine. As the song entered the home stretch, Tobias decided to come up to me on his knees and play up to my camera. As I giggled remembering our conversation at the instore, when Tobias joked about making sure he looked good in the photos, I prayed my autofocus would work and the flash would not blind him.

After Babylon Tobias welcomed the crowd and thanked them for coming. He said that all the music labels, magazines, etc., overseas told him to forget about Australia because “there’s no metal scene in Australia”. He went on to describe how metal has always been an underground genre all over the world and would never be played on programs like MTV, commercial radio or on the charts. After saying the band was happy for finally be in Australia, he introduced Land of the Miracle as the ballad of the set. During this song I copied the set list and exited my nook via the stage to a prime listening position.

The song to follow was Painting on the Wall after which Tobias introduced the audience to a couple of his simple vocal games. If you’ve listened to Theater of Salvation, you’ll know the one I’m talking about.

After Until We Rise Again, Tobias said: “Thank you, Melbourne!” to which he’d received some loud booing. By the cheeky school boy look on his face, I’d say he’d been informed of the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry.

Headless Game was followed by the epic Pharaoh with visuals from Felix’s drum tricks and sounds from Jens’ lead break.

With a lot of the new album out of the way it was time to play some old material. Before introducing Vain Glory Opera, Tobias decided to voice his concerns about Australian native wildlife, especially the spiders. What is it about men and arachnophobia? He also introduced the drummer In and Out style in preparation for the drum solo: “This is our drummer, Felix yum-yum, boom-boom, Bohnke. And he’s gay,” and Angelo, the secret keyboardist behind the curtain.

More friendly banter followed and a “Melbourne sucks” expletive was applauded by the audience. The band played Save Us Now, probably thinking they’d need saving once Melbourne found out about the abuse.

The Edguys looked like they were having a ball on stage drawing from the energy of metalheads they were told didn’t exist. During the set, Tobias spotted a couple of people standing arms-folded, motionless and emotionless. Not quite understanding Sydney’s audience of metal appreciators rather than a fan-base culture, he decided to bring them to everyone’s attention, asking if they were bored or impressed. The answer was “impressed!”

After more friendly banter about the distance they travelled to come to Australia and a question of “How many miles to Melbourne?” Tobias decided to walk around the venue during How Many Miles complaining about the people “up the back getting pissed” looking for a member of Vanishing Point to sing a line with him. The mile-long song ended to applause and cheers, probably louder than for Dungeon and Vanishing Point combined.

After much cheering and stamping, Edguy returned and Tobias decided it was sing-along time, again. With the audience consisting of about 70% musicians, Tobias had a hard time losing us, so he decided to throw in a curve ball as sing something that didn’t quite sound English. The tune was easy, the words-not so. Then Tobias explained he was teaching us some German. German?!? Yeah, right! Between my best friend (who’s photos also appear in this review) and I it sounded a lot like “Olle! There’s lots of poofs in Barcelona!”. So that’s exactly what I continued to sing. In Melbourne, I put my suspicions to Tobias, who corrected our lack of comprehension skills-he was saying something in German.

Following our sing-along, Tobias introduced the cover of the night. He first told us it was an Eagles song-minimal reaction from the crowd. Then he said it was actually a “Britney fucking Spears song”, to which the crowd displayed their disdain.

Suddenly, they all broke into a chorus of Avantasia, followed by the complete song. I don’t think any other song received as much acknowledgement as this. A fellow Edguy fan had seemed surprised earlier during the set when he saw it on my set list saying: “But that’s not an Edguy song!” If the rest of Edguy were happy to perform it, I wasn’t going to complain. And they sang it as well as all the original super voices.

The evening came to a close shortly after 1 am with their final song Out of Control and Tobias’s final thanks promising to be back next year and saying that he’ll tell everyone in Europe not to believe there are no metalheads in Australia “they’re as good as in any city in Europe”.

The most pondered question of the night by Edguy fans was why hadn’t they played All the Clowns, especially considering the available video-a question I never seemed to remember to ask.

 

11 May 2002, The Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda, Victoria

Edguy were billed as the headlining act of Metal Warriors Metalfest 2002. It was a long day starting at about 2pm. Still recovering from an uncomfortable 10-hour train ride, I decided to arrive later in the day. It was later told I’d missed a couple of really good bands-Sanityz Cage (traditional metal) and Anarion (described as thrash metal music with power metal lyrics and vocals).

It was a big day for Dungeon. They played a set similar to that in Sydney with the exception of I Am Death (an Accept cover) and Fast as a Shark, before Judgment Day. Then Steve Ravic, Mr Metal Warriors himself, walked on stage with a contract for Dungeon, signing them to the Metal Warriors stables-the same stable responsible for Vanishing Point’s success in Europe.

For those unfamiliar with Metal Warriors, they produce the yearly composite Wacken videos and DVDs-just one of a long list of achievements.

After the initial introduction by Steve he asked the crowd if he should sign Dungeon to which the almost full venue responded with chants of “SIGN! SIGN! SIGN! SIGN!”

The official signing and set was iced with Paradise.

Next band on the bill was Enter Twilight (the band I missed in Sydney). Described by many as an Australian Nightwish, they failed to meet my expectations, and sandwiched between Dungeon and Vanishing Point, I felt they paled in comparison.

Vocally excellent, if a little less operatic, the music was good, but tended to lack variety in intensity, speed and rhythm. It’s so hard to get a good grasp of a potentially good band at first listening. Enter Twilight have strong fan base in Melbourne so I’d like to see them again. If you find Nightwish over the top and Lacuna Coil a little monotonous, then Enter Twilight will definitely sate your appetite for female vocals.

Vanishing Point played another flawless show playing the same songs as at Bar Broadway.

Edguy’s set was similar to that played at Bar Broadway: Fallen Angels, Tears of a Mandrake, (no Babylon), Land of the Miracle, Painting on the Wall, Until We Rise Again, Headless Game, Pharaoh, Vain Glory Opera, Save Us Now, How Many Miles.

Forget about photos of this show. The venue was so tightly packed by this stage, I only managed to get halfway through the crowd and they weren’t going to let me through. The stage height was secure enough not to require a pit for security, which meant no pit for me.

Highlights during the Espy show included a ‘routine’ by Tobias Sammet, at one stage knocking over symbols, leading me to the theory that Tobias lied in his biography. This man did not grow up with a normal family and have the normal childhood he claims he did-Tobias was raised in a circus. The way he climbed over Felix’s drum kit showed signs of trapeze training-either that, or being raised by primates.

Edguy also treated us to a verse and chorus of Iron Maiden’s Running Free and some of Bruce Dickinson’s memorable activities.

During Headless Game Jens disappeared off stage. I couldn’t see, but it could have been due to a broken string. Tobias took the opportunity to dramatise the moment by stating “our guitarist has left the band” and went in search of the missing Jens.

“Hello? Jens? Where are you?” asked Tobias as he searched the stage. Behind the drum riser is a 4-foot drop with a few stairs for easy access to the stage. Next thing you see is Jens’ head popping out from behind the drum kit with a cheeky grin like a Muppet popping up on the TV screen. Oh well, it probably looked funnier than it reads…

Our German lesson that evening was dedicated to stage manager, Peter the Bavarian. “There’s dead fish in the water.” The only word I remember is fisch-at least I won’t starve in Germany. I only hope our lesson didn’t reflect on his personality!

The encore included an extra song Wake up the King between Avantasia and Out of Control including the a capella bridge featured in the backstage Edguy footage on the 1999 Wacken Open Air Festival video/DVD.

It was obvious the venue was full of Edguy fans who gave them the applause they deserved.

 

12 May 2002, Corner Hotel, Richmond

The Corner Hotel had a similar stage as Bar Broadway in height and size and by the security railing set up in front of the stage, I’d say a similar sized crowd was also expected. Unfortunately, Sunday had a disappointing turnout. A combination of Mother’s Day, a 4.30pm start and Sunday kept most from coming and getting a second hit of Edguy and supports.

Anarion were first up and unfortunately, I missed them. I was really interested in seeing this band after hearing their description, as my gripe with thrash metal is the lack of good vocals. After making the effort to show up in time to catch at least half a set, I arrived to discover all band times had changed.

Next up were Dungeon wearing their Metal Warriors brand with pride. They played a similar, but shorter set as the previous night ending with I Am Death after The Legend of the Huma.

Following Dungeon was a 9-piece, all-girl band called Supremacy. How the hell did this band get billing over Dungeon? Apparently, they’ve been around for a long time, which leads me to my next question-why? The band consisted of a lead singer and three backing vocalists, who together couldn’t muster one-tenth the vocal strength of Nightwish’s Tarja, or any other female vocalist for that matter. The guitarist wore her Malmsteen influences on her lace cravat and coat tails, and by her hair. The violin arrangements might as well have not been there. Enough! You get the idea. Thank Metal there was a bar.

Vanishing Point played their set to the usual standard. Guest singer, Gio from Arkaya was invited on stage once again to perform Surreal as a duet with Silvio for the last time this year. Vanishing Point will be concentrating on writing and recording their third CD for the rest of 2002.

Before the last verse of Surreal I noticed Silvio conversing at length with Gio. What followed was how I always imagined Surreal to be sung by them-in harmony. It was a real treat to hear the song sung at its best before the band’s long break. Silvio also took the opportunity to advertise Arkaya’s need for a new bass player with: “Who wouldn’t want to play bass in a band with this guy as the singer?”

At the end of their set, Silvio thanked the crowd for their support and the band came together on stage for the group bow.

I was lucky enough to have seen the last show with keyboardist Danny Olding. He announced his departure from the band shortly after the end of the tour to dedicate as much time as possible to songwriting and music scoring-primarily heavy metal but with some pop as well. *Good luck, Dan! Looking forward to seeing you on stage again, maybe in your Vinnie Vincent costume.*

As time came closer to Edguy, the devoted took their positions about three people deep against the pit railings. Yes, Hail Metal! I finally got a pit. Edguy came on stage. The Edguys didn’t care there weren’t as many people and continued to play to the standard they had set at the start of the tour starting the set with Fallen Angels, Tears of a Mandrake, Babylon. Three songs over and my official photographic opportunities finished, I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the set-and that, I did.

And the keyboard introduction to Land of the Miracle started, Edguy were joined on stage by guest keyboardist, Angela (who just happened to have a birthmark that said “Made in Taiwan”. It was going to be an interesting show and I decided to pull out my camera and take a few more photos of any other special features. The Edguys took Angela’s appearance on stage with good humour. During the set, Tobias even decided to give her a few pointers and pumped her up when she started to “go down on them”-Tobias’ words, not mine.

The set continued with Painting on the Wall, Until We Rise Again, Headless Game, Pharaoh during which we got an bass solo from Eggi.

The crowd was small and they were made to work twice as hard to satisfy Tobias need for loud sing-alongs and cheers. Knowing how to work the crowd, Tobias continued bating the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry by telling the audience that Sydney was much louder and they had to try harder.

During this time, something red flew from the audience toward Tobias. When he picked it up we saw it was a pair of panties-a red g-string to be exact. I couldn’t make out everything that was written on the ‘map of Tasmania’, but I did see “down under” and a smiley face. After reading the dedication, showing the audience and placing it on his microphone stand “so people can get some photos” for a time, Tobias moved behind Felix and placed them over his face so you just see two eyes peeping out. Felix continued to drum, shaking them off his head and eventually, hung them off a stand.

Time was running short as the venue was only licensed to stay open until 11pm on a Sunday, so when Tobias paused for another of his soliloquies near the end of Vain Glory Opera, Felix had obviously had enough and cut him off counting in the rest of the band to continue the song.

Everyone could tell what had happened and we joined the rest of the band laughing at Tobias’s shrug and expression which said “Fine! I’ll just sing the song, then”.

Now this is when the joviality of the night starts to cloud my mind. I know Fairytale was included in the set and I’m pretty sure it was next.

When singing Tobias changes how his he holds his microphone. Sometimes he uses a stand-sometimes not. During one of these unsupervised breaks, his microphone stand was adorned with an inflated condom. This was Tobias’ undoing. He turned to grab it and when he saw the decoration, blushed and giggled at the same time, but he couldn’t touch it.

Tobias couldn’t bring himself to use the stand while the condom was still there. After a while, he really needed to use the stand, so he brought it back to the front of the stage and attempted to remove the condom before starting the next song. He pulled, prodded, tried to untie it. Frustrated, he started pulling it and tore it commenting on his safe sex technique. With the condom removed, but not before cameras captured his efforts, Tobias was comfortable to start the next song.

The set was completed with How Many Miles and Tobias thanking the audience again for all their support over the tour and that they’d definitely be back in Australia with a full show next tour and they’d tell other European bands to go an play in Australia.

What followed gave us an insight into the quirky sense of humour of Edguy. By this show, the audience knew they’d get an encore and the cheering and clapping was pretty woeful. The band walked on stage as they did the last two shows and prepared for Avantasia, but Tobias had another idea. After telling the crowd that the applause was pretty bad and it was embarrassing for the band to walk on stage for an encore that really wasn’t wanted, he told us that we’d have to do it again and instructed us on how it was going to happen.

The band was going to walk off stage, pretending they’d just finished How Many Miles and we would then make a really loud noise (again, he was making the small audience earn this excellent show) and the band were going come back on stage and show their surprise at being called back for an encore.

Tobias gave the signal, we all clapped, screamed, whistled and hooted. The lights dimmed and Edguy walked off stage. The applause continued until the lights brightened and a surprised Edguy walked on stage with hands on chests and shaking heads in mock modesty, but with twinkles in their eyes. Eventually, their expressions gave way to giggles and laughs earning even more respect from devout fans. I got the impression Australian metalheads gained five new friends in the form on Edguy over this tour and we welcomed their friendship with open arms. Looking around the venue scattered with people watching the show, all I could see was happy faces.

After the show, the band was happy to socialise with some of the crowd gathered outside the backstage area. It was raining and cold, and metalheads gathered undercover waiting for the Edguys to come out of the dressing room. One by one, they filtered through, sharing their drinks, chatting with fans, having photos taken.


(Dakk from Dungeon, Dirk, Chris from Vanishing Point)

 


(Brat, Tobi, Leisa)

We chatted with various members about everything from makeup to wine, to languages, to their upcoming European summer schedule. I was lucky enough to receive a short private performance from Tobias who sang part of a Russian song he learnt as a child. And, I’ll say it again-I’ve never met such a genuinely friendly and open touring band as Edguy. It’s no wonder this band has so many adoring fans worldwide.

Undoubtedly, people who hadn’t heard Edguy before this tour walked away fans and those who were already fans, pledged their eternal loyalty.

All I can say is bring on Piteå, Wacken and Vienna Metalfest! Europe, here I come!

……………………………………………………

That was the end of the road for me. The following day I was to get back on the hell train for 10 hours and go straight to work. The Edguys stayed in Melbourne until the following weekend.

They had two official engagements remaining. The first was as guests presenters for Screaming Symphony, a pubic radio show also broadcast via the internet. From what I’d heard, the show sounded like a zoo (in keeping with Edguy humour) and at times the presenter, Gary, sounded like he’d lost control of his studio. During the show, Gary asked for requests from each member. Eggi asked for a Guns N Roses song, but instead of playing Gunners, Gary played an early Edguy song, Midgets of Metal.

During their recreation time, I received reports from the Edguy camp of many social meals including an Aussie BBQ, frolics with Australian native animals and they even caught couple of shows.

The final engagement was a dinner show at Kryal Castle just outside of Ballarat, a town about 2 hours drive north west of Melbourne. The show was full of typical Edguy humour. The set consisted of Stinger, Fallen Angels, Ode to Gary (Screaming Symphony), Tears of a Mansnake (apparently Dirk’s interpretation of the lyrics), Land of a Miracle, Painting on the Wall, Headless Game, Pharaoh, Babylon, Fairytale, Vain Glory Opera, Manowar's Carry On (retitled Gary On), How Many Miles with Avantasia and Out of Control for the encore.