WACKEN 2008

October 14th, 2008
by Arto Lehtinen

Wacken Open Air 2008

Once again tens of thousands of lunatic metal freaks travelled from all over the world to the small German village located in the middle of the beautiful northern German countryside. The small peaceful Wacken literally goes upside down when nearly 80.000 conquer the village during one weekend in a year. Wacken Open Air celebrated its 19th birthday from the 31st of July to the 2nd of August, whose biggest headliner ever in the history of Wacken was Iron Maiden. Despite Iron Maiden being the biggest name on the bill, however there were tons of other interesting and fascinating names.

Brat: The mass convergence of catholic youth in Sydney for World Youth Day the week Ray and I left brought a smile to my face and a feeling of warmth as I realised it wouldn’t be long until I was part of a similar pilgrimage but to Hamburg Germany and with two major differences—where Sydney was awash with colourful youth, Hamburg would be invaded by a swarm of black; and the trolley suitcases carrying clothing would instead be trolleys full of beer; songs of the gospel would be replaced by metal anthems. They came to worship at the cross—we to worship at the flaming longhorn but we all would display our nations’ flags proudly.

Tickets for W:O:A 2008 sold phenomenally fast. The special edition X-mas pack with extra goodie bag sold out before I could take a long breath after my 2007 trip. By February the official festival ticket seller was “SOLD OUT”. Suddenly the ebay market was flooded with tickets with one ticket reaching a record price of 800 British Pounds—obscene. Even in July with less than 1 month before the festival, there was an average of 5 new listings a day for tickets, which nullified all “SOLD OUT” credibility. (Brat)

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Thursday

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GIRLSCHOOL

The legendary hard rock female squad kicked off the 19th Wacken Open Air in true Girlschool fashion. The ladies rocked loud and free in front of an enthusiastic crowd banging their heads in the frontline. The rocking gals definitely showed they are on the top by playing the good old tunes as well as the newer stuff from the latest LEGACY album. Of course the late guitarist Kelly Johnson was remembered as well. Girlschool have kicked asses for about 30 years now and there is no sign of them slowing down. (Arto)

Brat: On the eve of signing a new deal with Wacken Records (formerly known as Armageddon), the band I consider England’s female musical equivalent of MOTORHEAD took to the stage with the gusto of high school teens launching their 30th anniversary.

When many of my fellow schoolmates were being invigorated by the original (pre Spice Girls) girl power from Debra Harry, Joan Jett, etc., I was busy chasing boys who looked like girls so bands like GIRLSCHOOL didn’t hit my radar. In fact, I don’t even remember GIRLSCHOOL receiving any coverage in Australia.

I was pleased to see a platform set up in front of the True and Black stages and that organisers has answered the pleas of so many non pitpass photographers to be given an opportunity to take some decent shots.

The early festivallers filled the area and showed GIRLSCHOOL support while listening to classics such as: Come On Let’s Go; Hit And Run; Emergency; and Demolition Man. (Brat)

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MUSTACH

Brat: Just when I thought I was up to date with what’s going on in the world, a band comes along to reinforce just how little I know…After reading their biography stating they’d won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock 2007 my mind raced to ‘WTF?!’ how are they not being played on radio in Australia…then I read the fine print—the Grammis in Sweden. This is one band whose CDs I definitely want after seeing them live.

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LAUREN HARRIS

Steve Harris’ daughter has been a real godsent opportunity to boost her music career by touring alongside her father. Even though it is said she has started doing gigs in small smoky clubs in England, getting an opportunity of playing for the huge crowd is definitely too early for her. What was she doing at Wacken? Well, everyone can draw their own conclusions and calculate one plus one. Frankly her pop sounding rock is boring and dead dull from beginning to end. She has definitely become a solid stage performer while touring with Maiden and Within Temptation, however she and her poppish rockish stuff is probably more suited to British smoky rock clubs. Anyway it depends on how, if ever, the Maiden fans accept Lauren Harris in the future. (Arto)

Well, I’ve seen Lauren Harris three times, including this Wacken, which puts her right up there with Amon Amarth, Iron Maiden, Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir. I’ve drawn my conclusions a long time ago, and nothing I saw at Wacken made me change my mind. She does not deserve to be on the same stage as Iron Maiden, let alone playing the Black Stage at Wacken Open Air. It’s not even the style of music or its execution, although that has much to do with it. It’s the fact that she has catapulted to such heights on the strength of her father in Iron Maiden that sticks in many metalheads’ throats. As I have said before, there are many bands that would give their right arm to open for Iron Maiden or play the Black Stage, and many more deserving bands and musicians. Her music is not to my taste, which is no one’s fault, but to gain exposure in such a way detracts from her career as a musician and sullies the integrity of her father. (HannTu)

Couldn’t agree more. She’s got the whole package—stunning looks, great stage presence and her voice is pretty decent, but her pop rock songs really let her down. They just seem too safe and weak. Nothing grabs your ears making you want to hear more and allude to Lauren Harris having limited vocal ability. I really don’t think that’s her case, more that she’s just not challenging, or even stretching, herself. Most people write her off because of how she’s managed to get that far. She’s going to have to work much harder if she wants a decent metal following. (Brat)

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STURM UND DRANG

Last year’s kiddie showcase STURM UND DRANG took to the Party stage and were “Learning To Rock” introducing themselves as being from “Fucking Finland”. Has someone seen Children of Bodom live recently? In fact that wasn’t the only CoB or maybe just Alexi Laiho influence lead singer/guitarist Andre Linman showed. His way of holding a guitar (and later I noticed many Fin guitarist doing the same) and his CoB T-shirt were pretty obvious too.

After the Judas Priest cover “Breaking The Law”, Andre explained when Sturm Und Drang started, they only played covers of the bands they liked and introduced a tribute to the headlining band of the festival with “Fear Of The Dark”. The assembled crowd took the opportunity to practise for later that night by “oh-ohing” and clapping during the intro and also joining in the chorus.

The atmosphere was amazing and I couldn’t help but be totally warmed by my fellow metal brothers and sisters supporting this extremely young band.

Band members were introduced and solos ensued. Calle Fahllund drum solo sounded much like the intro to Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands On Me”. Finishing their set with “Forever”, STURM UND DRANG planted their seeds on what I feel will be many more Wackens. (Brat)

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NASHVILLE PUSSY

Tits and tattoos, a few dozen Budweisers and Nascar would perfectly describe the world of Nashville Pussy. The four-piece play straight-to-the-face oriented rock stuff that is absolutely influenced by several hard rocking classic names. Nashville Pussy out of Atlanta appeared to be an extreme vital ass kicking outfit delivering a great deal of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll for the Wacken crowd. Frontman Blaine Cartwright alongside with his wife Ruyter Suys turned to be the most intensive rocking couple on the stage and the bassist Karen Cuba relentlessly acted like a wild cat on the stage. The hard rocking band fitted the concept of the first day of the more traditional hard rock when delivering the pussy rock’n’roll stuff. (Arto)

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LEAVES EYES

I was really looking forward to see Leaves Eyes. I enjoyed the intimate Atrocity/Leaves Eyes tour of Australia in 2006 and was further warmed when the Viking ship appeared on stage!

Fireworks exploded as the band members sailed in on their ship with Vinland Saga. The set started with Farewell Proud Men and Elegy. By the time Liv Kristine was joined on stage by hubby and Atrocity lead singer, Alexander Krull for Solemn Sea I was grateful for the relief. There’s only so much high-pitched singing with little colour a person can handle.

It’s a pity Ray and I didn’t have the patience to watch the full set. As we headed back to the VIP area for a drink people dressed in Viking garb were lined up along the road overpass looking to unleash their assault on an unsuspecting crowd. Not sure how that panned out as it was a long way from the overpass to the Party stage and they would have had to tackle the people assembling early for Iron Maiden. (Brat)

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The flaming horns are lit for the first time in 2008

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IRON MAIDEN

Arto: How many of our readers have witnessed the latest Iron Maiden “Somewhere Back In Time” world tour when the British heavy metal heroes crisscrossed the globe? Presumably several for sure. Therefore each of us is definitely aware of the song list consisting of these so-called classics.

As known the gig was kicked off by ‘Aces High’ and followed by plenty of other tunes. In the beginning of the set Bruce lost his tempter totally toward a camera crew as the crane system prevented the people from seeing the Maidens. The camera crew didn’t know if Bruce was either joking or serious about the moving of the crane away.

The whole area was totally packed with about 70–80.000 people that meant moving in any direction turned out to be totally impossible and hopeless. When you got stuck somewhere you couldn’t move an inch to anywhere. Seeing the sea of tens of thousands of people moving was a utterly apocalyptic sight and all these crowdsurfers coming all the way from the back of the field to the front was more than odd at the Iron Maiden show. Bruce asked people to look after each other and the atmosphere was getting fanatical.

Iron Maiden was Maiden, nothing less or nothing more. All the pyros and bombs looked more effective in the German night and the people were entirely spellbound by the crossfire of old songs. Of course Eddie visited the stage a couple of times as a walking robot and rising as a mummy behind the drumkit. (Arto)

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Brat: I’m glad we saw them in “intimate” mode (30,000 seat arena) in Sydney this February where Bruce Dickinson awed me with his performance earing him a place in my Top 5 best metal vocalists. If I was a German I would not have been impressed with Wacken being my only opportunity to see IRON MAIDEN live. If I lived in Germany, I would probably have chosen to see them in an arena in a neighbouring country. From where Ray and I stood, we saw very little and relied mostly on the screens to see what was going on stage.

As usual, the film crews were set up around the stage and the boom camera was quite active. After watching Bruce Dickinson shove a camera off stage with his foot in 2002, I expected another similar occurrence this year and wasn’t surprised when Bruce became verbally aggressive and at times insulting until the boom camera was retired for the remainder of IRON MAIDEN’s performance.

The size of the crowd was phenomenal—the biggest I’ve ever been a part of. I kept looking around me with awe at the mass assembly before , behind, to the left and to the right of the stage. People were gathered as far as the eye could see and I noticed there were a lot of people “watching” from outside the festival area. Later I found out the festival area had been closed off and people had no choice but to watch from “outside” of this year’s new addition of an outdoor cinema screen. The crowd must have appeared unruly because before “Can I Play With Madness”, Bruce instructed us to look out for our metal-brothers and –sisters and to help them up if they happened to fall during the show.

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My love of plush toys was brought to hea when I kept seeing an Egyptian dressed, Sphinx looking teddy perched on the bass drums. I WANT ONE! Come on, IRON MAIDEN sell Eddie dolls, so why can’t they sell Egyptian teddy bears?

IRON MAIDEN is the band bands watch. As the set opened various members from headlining bands filtered out of the VIP overpass and made their way through the crowd to watch. Pigheadedness and egos aside you can’t write a bad review about IRON MAIDEN. We were swept up in the sing-alongs with the other 70,000 watching, but unlike some, Ray nor I felt the need to disrobe. It seemed that the unofficial theme for Wacken 2008 was “GET NAKED FOR WACKEN!” as throughout the festival and festival related areas like the swimming pool people were getting around naked in the name of metal.

Before we knew it two and a half hours had passed and it was time to leave the festival area. Ray and I had a drink with the Mortal Sinners but we all decided on an early night to be up and fresh for MORTAL SIN opening the True Metal stage for the day. A shame we couldn’t make the most of the warmest night I’ve experienced at Wacken in 7 years. It was so warm that I was tempted to sleep outside my sleeping bag that night—and no, it wasn’t the alcohol. (Brat)

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Hanntu: The “Somewhere Back in Time” tour was a stroke of genius on the part of Iron Maiden. Cynics called it a nostalgia tour, but Maiden realise the power of nostalgia; after the small murmurs of discontent over the “A Matter of Life and Death” tour, what better way to cement your status as the premier metal band in the world than by revisiting your classics. These golden oldies span the first seven Maiden albums, generally regarded as the best material in their oeuvre. Mostly immortalised in their 1985 live concert (LIVE AFTER DEATH) filmed in Long Beach Arena on the World Slavery tour, these songs are known by heart to every living metalhead that has ever taken an interest in how heavy metal developed, solidified and reinvented itself in the 80s. Not many of us metal fans were around to see them on that tour (I was born in 1985 myself), but we’ve all watched LIVE AFTER DEATH religiously, and somehow, the old songs never get old. Never.

The crowd was absolutely heaving. I was somewhere dead centre in the middle, but I have been reliably informed by many people that at least 5 to 10 000 people could not get into the arena and were watching on the big screens in the football field. The atmosphere was electric, incandescent, chillingly impossible to describe in words. People were getting the shakes just talking about it. Iron Maiden, headlining the first night of Wacken Open Air, playing their classic material – it doesn’t get much better than this.

As Churchill’s speech boomed out on the speakers as it did in Long Beach Arena in 1985, I tried not to crack up as the Germans around me echoed the intro word for word. “Vee shall fight on zee beaches…” Either this is the supreme mother irony of ironies, or the Germans have developed a sense of humour (finally) (Brat: Hogan’s Heroes is quite popular in Germany now) or that they just didn’t care. Probably the latter. This brief moment of light-heartedness soon vanished as Maiden hit the stage, and I think it was at this precise moment that I began to fear for my life. The crowd went berserk as ‘Aces High’ was played – the tsunami waves going through the ocean of people were nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. People were fainting from the crush or desperately trying to keep their feet as the frothing frenzy reached boiling point. It was not until the second song ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’ that the madding crowd’s ignoble strife started to abate, after a caution by Bruce Dickinson to keep the fun friendly and safe.

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Brucie had a bit of a waspish prima donna moment that was received with approving roars by the crowd at the time, but upon reflection now seeming over-the-top. After the first song, he told the camera crew, and I paraphrase, to “move that cunting camera out of my face before I kill someone”, referring to the cranes that swoop over the crowd to get pan shots and close-ups of the musicians and audience. Seriously, Brucie…

Oh Dog, they were all there. ‘Aces High’, ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Number of the Beast’, ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Run to the Hills’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. Someone save me from orgasming violently into my pants. They just kept coming, one after the other, songs that have been part of their innumerable setlists over the years, but rarely ever played back-to-back in such a raucous symphonic paradise. Take my house, my car, my beloved Ibanez – but let me be back there again on that chill Wacken night, whoa-ing to ‘Fear of the Dark’ along with 70 000 of my brethren.

It was a trip back in time, a slice of history dusted off with fresh life breathed into it. Iron Maiden: le grande dame of metal, its venerable elders, granddaddies of rock. To revisit legend is something special, something to be treasured. But to make history, and be part of it… We can say we were there at Wacken the night Iron Maiden made something truly unforgettable. You just had to be there. (Hanntu)

Intro (Churchill’s Speech)

Aces High

2 Minutes to Midnight

Revelations

The Trooper

Wasted Years

Number of the Beast

Can I Play With Madness

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Powerslave

Heaven can Wait

Run To The Hills

Fear of the Dark

Iron Maiden

Moonchild

The Clairvoyant

Hallowed Be Thy Name

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