Saturday August 6, 2006
Sun, rain, sun, downpour, sun, wind?all before I?d even wormed out of my sleeping bag. Then, after my morning toilet and coffee routine, some neighbours popped by while I was getting ready, which made me late for MOB RULES. At least I was camped close enough to hear them open with Black Rain, the first track off their latest release, Among the Gods. This also happens to be the only MOB RULES CD I own.
Gone are the days when I had time to study CD inserts to the point of being able to work out the religion of members. All I have time for these days is to import it on my iPod (Australia still doesn?t have an iStore, so supposedly this is still legal here) and listen to it while at work or the gym.
When the singer addressed the early risers, I realised this was a German power metal band. I managed to see four or five songs by the time I waded through the mud and was in awe. They were great and yes, I?m going to say it?even better than their CD.
Sure enough, as they performed the last couple of songs, the rain pelted again, but they were just too good not to watch.
I wanted to see DRAGONFORCE as I?d read a bit about them, heard a couple of recent songs from samplers and apparently, at one time, they had an Australian drummer. They were running late and nature was calling, so I couldn?t wait in front of the True stage anymore. Then I desperately needed to replenish the water content in my body and sat under cover to write up some notes with the intention of seeing the end of their set until the deceivingly sunny sky lost its bladder control and opened again.
Metalheads pray and make offerings to the breaking sun for it to stay.
It was 13:00 and I had at least four hours until the next band I wanted to see?actually, needed to see?AXEL RUDI PELL. Off I went in search of the barbeque keeping hot a medium rare steak with my name on it, while one of my friends kindly took a photo of how glamorous I looked at the festival this year.
Glam versus the Anti-Glam / Source: www.rock-pictures.de
During my walkabouts through brief spells of sunshine, I had a look at HOLY MOSES on the Party stage. Can?t say I heard anything good to report about Mrs Cookie Monster And The Cookies.
Although many consider PELL Germany?s answer to Malmsteen and Vai, I find his back catalogue pretty much the same (but then people could say that about Malmsteen and Vai as well). What brings special attention to the AXEL RUDI PELL band is the calibre of musicians supporting him. I have to admit, my main reason for being interested in AXEL RUDI PELL is his singer, Johnny Gioeli?the golden voice of Hardline. Even now, this band has a strong following and their music is regularly played at hard rock/metal nights in Sydney.
Pell fans wait?what comes first, the band or the rain?
Johnny made AXEL RUDI PELL my most anticipated band for W:O:A:2006 and when he hit the stage for Tear Down The Walls I made sure my cheering and whistling could be heard. I ended up in a crappy spot but as long as I could see and hear Johnny, I was happy.
During Nasty Reputation I realised I couldn?t hear any backing vocals as were provided by Pell?s Princesses for his live DVD and thank metal for it. Those backing vocals never sat well with me. I don?t know what it is?strange harmonics or just bad pitch?they just don?t sound right. I know, you?re probably thinking that I?d listen to Johnny even if he was farting a song, but I didn?t want his vocals washed out by a couple of wailing wenches, no matter how good they look in their tight black numbers against an average looking band. And, speaking of the rest of the band…man, can they play. Of course, we had Mike Terrana on drums?the name speaks for itself?Volker Krawczak on bass and Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards. And, anyone that can throw his keyboard on his shoulder or under his arm and still play it the way he does deserves a bow of “we?re not worthy”.
During Strong as a Rock I participated in the crowd activity of raising my fist in the air every time the word “rock” was sung.
Next, Johnny introduced one of his favourite songs, and the way he sings it makes it one of mine, Masquerade Ball, and invited everyone to sing it with him. This was followed by Kasbah, Fool Fool (me standing in the pouring rain), and a song I didn?t recognise, but later found out was a cover of Temple Of The King. By the time AXEL RUDI PELL band finished Call Her Princess, I was hypnotised.
When I arrived at the Party Stage for FINNTROLL, they were already on and there wasn?t a single vacant spot to squeeze into to get a good look at this band. I don?t think the organisers anticipated the popularity on this band otherwise they would have put them on a larger stage. I tried this way; I tried that way; I even tried the VIP hill, but there wasn?t even a space between some legs where I could stick a lens to get a look at this band.
While I was waiting for the next band on my list, I found out Surprise Act No 2 was MARTIN KESICI. Mean nothing to you? Not surprising, unless you?re German or a major Nightwish fan. According to my German friends, MARTIN KESICI made a name for himself in Germany by winning one of those Idol-style talent shows and released a single with Tarja Turunen called Leaving You For Me. I saw him surrounded by a few people, but I didn?t recognise him and with the lack of information I had because I wasn?t privy to any of the press conferences, I didn?t make the connection to check him out.
Next band I wanted to see was HAMMERFALL because I?d seen their live DVD and they looked awesome on stage. I knew most of the popular tunes so wouldn?t get too bored even though I wasn?t a diehard fan. The stage was decorated with an arctic landscape. The show was great and I was again surprised at how much is lost watching a live show on DVD.
As this was Wacken, it was a best-of set with favourites including Renegade, Hammerfall, Crimson Thunder and Judgement Day. I didn?t stay for the whole set, alas?I had some stalking to do?
Source: By Miele www.yetiprod.com
Yes, it was time for me to stalk Johnny G at the AXEL RUDI PELL band signing session. I?m sure I sound like a crazed groupie, but you must understand how deeply this man?s voice was ensconced into my psyche. Almost every gig I went to circa ?92??93 played Double Eclipse between bands. His voice became the benchmark to which every other singer was compared.
While AXEL RUDI PELL fans were getting things signed, HAMMERFALL?s performance on the True stage was being shown on a screen behind the signing table. During every spare second Johnny would turn around to watch, but as soon as someone stood in front of him, he gave them his full attention, even turning on the charm for the girls and kissing them (yes, read the tones of envy coming from these words). Sound was no issue as the True stage is less than 50 metres from the signing area.
All the members of AXEL RUDI PELL band seemed quite jovial, except Axel. Not sure what it is about him, but his intense blue eyes, tanned skin and mismatched head and facial hair all combine to give you the impression he?s weird in an eccentric virtuoso way.
I was trying to take some photos of the band. My lens followed my chosen subject?s every move until I was able to line up a clean shot. Thanks to a metal-sister from the Pell entourage, they held the crowd for a minute so Johnny could stand for me to get a clean shot at him…yes, that?s it…I was hitting him with my love gun…
I blew him a kiss in thanks and went to the bar for a drink. While I was talking to someone at the bar, I saw Johnny being led very quickly through the press area to a car in the carpark. I was off! I hesitated at the carpark entry and watched?were they getting straight into the car or just standing around. I stood and watch as another female admirer cornered Johnny for a photo, meanwhile my mind was racing: “Should I? Do I? Will he?”
Bugger it! I was off like a bride?s nightie. After all, this was a lifetime opportunity. I didn?t know if I?d ever see him perform again and well, if I made a fool of myself, whatever happens at Wacken, stays at Wacken. I walked up behind him after the other fan was done and asked if I could be his next stalker. I won?t bore you with the details of our exchange, but I?ll tell you he was charming and if it wasn?t raining constantly, I?d have said “I?ll never wash my face again”.
Up until this point, I was feeling quite down, not so bad as to call it depression, but I wasn?t having as much fun and I should have been. I wasn?t eating much, I had no energy and I wasn?t even interested in shopping?pauses for the moment of shock?but Johnny Gioeli?s friendliness and warmth, melted this old grouch?s core. I felt like a kid who hadn?t taken her ADD medication or as though I?d just had a shot of vitamin B in my butt; and I was off to spend the rest of the festival with my friends and have some fun.
Jens Johansson shows me how to make the metal sign?
he must have seen my embarrassing attempt with Johnny G.
Source: By Miele www.yetiprod.com
Source: By Tommy www.alexundtommy.de
I even got motivated to buy the item on top of my Wacken shopping list this year?a bullet belt?which became more of a necessity than a metal statement by this stage to keep my pants from falling off. In the Nuclear Blast tent, I heard one of the guys say that the temperatures had dropped so much when the sun set the previous night, every stall at the festival had sold out of warm hoodies.
While I was lurking in the darkness of the festival area, I saw an award ceremony taking place on the Black stage, I think. Actually, I saw it on one of the screens but my memory is a bit fuzzy now due to the number of vodkas I drank before my stroll…I think ACCEPT were presented with the same Lifetime Achievement Award Ronny James Dio received last year or it could have been the Wacken Hall Of Fame Award?my brain was to exhausted to understand the very fast and muffled German at this point.
I?m not really much of an ACCEPT fan even though I have one of their 90s albums on vinyl. They just remind me of a German version of Rose Tattoo. But, I didn?t want to ignore them, after all this reunion was a momentous occasion. I could hear them from the press area, in fact, the F?r Elise guitar solo is what made me realise they were on stage, so I went to catch the last part of their set.
I arrived when they were doing Fast As A Shark, and I’m pretty sure I heard Love Child and one of their encore tunes was Balls To The Walls.
After ACCEPT I went back to the press area to hang with my metal-family, say goodbye to a few of them and just chill. I surveyed the damage to my boots and pants and dreaded the cleaning ahead.
This year a metal great said goodbye to fans after almost 15 years. SENTENCED played their funeral show in a festival befitting their status in the early hours of Sunday morning. Yes, they were on the Black stage, yes it was an impenetrable swamp, yes, I saw almost nothing, but I was NOT going to miss seeing at least some of SENTENCED last show.
They played Where Waters Fall Frozen, Excuse Me While I Kill Myself, Nepenthe, May Today Become The Day, The Rain Comes Falling Down, Bleed, Ever-Frost, Broken, Farewell, No One There, Noose, Cross My Heart And Hope To Die, Vengeance Is Mine and End Of The Road.
I think I managed through to Farewell before I couldn?t stand anymore and slowly made my way to my tent listening to Ville Laihiala?s raspy tones float over the fields. I was already in my -5?C rated (30F) sleeping bag with coffee in hand and the ground under me so cold it made my joints ache when they played Cross My Heart And Hope To Die?how appropriate. I should have shot some vodka into the coffee (or maybe straight down my throat), but my brain was already on ice and logical thought was no longer possible.
I felt defeated thinking that I?d really seen nothing thanks to the crappy weather, but I had to pace myself or I?d never make it to the end of the festival. I was already fighting the flu taking hold of Australians when I arrived, and the last thing I needed was to be bed-ridden following Wacken as I was off to conquer Helsinki the following day.