To The Metal! European Tour 2010 with Freedom Call
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
March 25, 2010
Reviewed and live pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Kulturbolaget in Malmoe is one of the hottest metal/rock clubs in Sweden. Last week I went to the club to see Airbourne and this night it was time for me to see Kai Hansen and his Gamma Ray in action. Support act for Gamma Ray was their fellow Germans in Freedom Call. However, I mostly there to see Gamma Ray, I have never cared much about the candy metal of Freedom Call. Both bands have recently released new studio albums. Gamma Ray have released TO THE METAL and the new Freedom Call disc is called LEGEND OF THE SHADOWKING. I have listened to the albums for a while and to be honest neither of the releases is the bands strongest ones ever. When the venue announced this tour package I thought that the tickets were gonna be sold out immediately but there were tickets left to buy the same day as the show and the club was half full with fans, I thought the interest for the bands was gonna be much higher. Secret Sphere were also supposed to tag along on the tour but for some reason they weren’t a part of the Scandinavian leg of the tour.
The Scandinavian leg of the tour took the band to Sweden and Finland. The band didn’t pay any visits to Denmark or Norway this time. I waited outside the venue during the day to meet up with a friend and we both had the chance to meet both of the bands and all of the members were really friendly and took the time to talk to us and to sign our stuff.
The doors opened at 20.00 and the short line containing me and my friend were let into the club. Freedom Call were scheduled to go on stage one hour later and the went on right on time.
Members in the band are:
Chris Bay – lead vocals, guitar
Samy Saeman – bass
Lars Rettkowitz – guitar
Klaus Sperling – drums
The only original member on stage this evening is Bay. On drums we find the old Primal Fear drummer Sperling and he’s replacing the ordinary drummer Dan Zimmermann because he is also a member of Gamma Ray and was gonna play with the headline act.
The show kicked off with the songs “We Are One” that went straight into “United Alliance” where Bay let the audiences sing a long in the chorus in this song. After that did Bay talk to the audience and said that it was great to be back in Malmoe again. Bay continued on with talking about the bands new album LEGEND OF THE SHADOWKING and said that the next song they were gonna play was taken from the new album, the song was “Thunder God”. Bay was in an excellent mood and jumped up and down and ran across the stage in order to get the crowd going. He said that he hoped that we were ready for some German Power metal and fired off another song from the new album called “Tears Of Babylon”. Parts of the crowd seemed to love the band, the other part just stood laid back and looked at Freedom Call and seemed to only be waiting for the headline act to go on. The small amount of space on stage were heavily used by not only Bay but also Rettkowitz. They both used the small ramp in the middle of the stage to go out on and meet the crowd.
The show continued on with “Hunting High”, “Metal Invasion”, “Mr. Evil” and “Out Of The Ruins”. Freedom Call use a lot of keyboards and samplers in their music and that was taken care of by drummer Sperling who had a laptop beside him. The music sounded more heavy and more guitar based live but despite that their music felt really commercial. But the band’s “lightness” weighs up by their love and joy for their music. It was fun to see the band live because it seemed that the guys had a lot of fun up there. And Bay is a brilliant singer and frontman. The lighting and sound were perfect, no one stood in darkness, the only thing worth complaining about was the drum sound. Partially it sounded like Sperling played on cans. A lot of singing a long was done by the crowd in most of the songs but after all are most of Freedom Call’s songs easy to sing a long in with bombastic choirs.
At this point all the members were soaked in sweat, the only one who didn’t seem to be sweaty and tired was Sperling. The set list continued with “Far Away” and “Warriors” which Bay dedicated to all the fans in the crowd. Because he thought that we all were warriors. The show was coming to and end and the last two songs that closed the show was “Land Of Light” and the monumental sing a long song “Freedom Call” which made everyone go crazy, both on stage and on the floor. After 45 minutes of candy metal it was time for Bay and his band to say goodnight and thank the fans for a great show. For a non-blessed-Freedom Call fan I thought the show was good. The only thing I question was Sperling’s drum play. He sounded really sloppy and not tight at all. His effort this evening is not gonna go to history as a great one. His double bass pedal play was below zero and as everyone knows is the double bass pedal play is a corner stone within the power metal music.
We Are One
Tears Of Babylon
Out Of The Ruins
Land Of Light
As soon as Freedom Call had gone off stage the crew began the preparations for the evenings highlight to go on stage. Gamma Ray’s drumkit was huge and standing on a podium where Dan Zimmermann could sit and look down on everyone . A few stairs led down from the podium to the middle of the stage and beside the podium was Gamma Ray’s mascot riding on a motorcycle. Behind the drum kit hung a huge backdrop with the bands name on it as well as the cover artwork of the new album. It all took up so much space that they had to put away the first step of the stairs so that the Freedom Call’s drums could be on stage. As you can imagine it took everything quite a while to be put together and it all got a bit delayed. But at 22.15 the Queen song “We Will Rock You” flowerd out in the venue and the crowd started to clap their hands and we all knew what was gonna happen.
While the intro was played did the band come out on stage. First came:
Dan Zimmermann – drums
Dirk Schlächter – bass
Henjo Richter – guitar
As soon as they were set on stage did they kick off the song “Gardens Of A Sinner” and then came the big star Kai Hansen out on stage and the entire club exploded with the arrival of Hansen. Everyone in the venue sang a long in the song and even though the club wasn’t sold out did every one inside do their best to give Hansen and Gamma Ray the best welcome they could. Here say Hansen good evening Malmoe how are you and he got back a lot of screams from the audience. Before the band kick of “New World Order” followed instantly and everyone in the band looked really happy and touched over the warm welcome they got. Hansen then said that the band have a new album out called TO THE METAL and that the next song they were gonna play were taken from that album, the song was “Empathy”.
The light was extremely good, much better than during the Freedom Call show and the sound was tremendously better. However the band used quite a lot of smoke from the smoke machine, sometimes it was hard to see the band and the audience for all the smoke that got in the way. Hansen thanked everyone for being there and said that it was the first time that Gamma Ray played in Malmoe. Then he introduced another new song in “Deadlands” but the more recent songs didn’t seem to go over with the people in Malmoe. The crowd mostly stood still and listened to the newer songs. The next song Hansen introduced by saying that it was written by Henjo Richter and is taken from the album MAJESTIC and Richter kicked off “Fight”. Hansen used the stage wisely and stood on the podium below the drums quite often. Richter also moved around the stage quite a lot. The only one who mostly stood solid on his place was Schlächter. Hansen talked a lot with the crowd and it was easy to see that he had a great time up on stage. Hansen wondered if it was OK for the band to play another new song from TO THE METAL, which it was, and kicked off “Mother Angel”.
Gamma Ray felt solid as a rock and it felt that nothing could disturb them this night. Zimmermann hammered his drums as if it were no tomorrow and he’s got a great support in bassist Schlächter. Richter and Hansen delivered amazing guitar duels amongst each other with hazardous riffs. Their guitar play was something extra ordinary to say the least. The ballad “No Need To Cry” followed where Hansen showed his more softer side of his voice. Ballads often has a tendency of bringing down the show a bit but Gamma Ray saved that with instantly kick off “Saviour” than transcendent straight into “Abyss Of the Void”. The audience woke up right away and the tempo and speed had been found again. After that it was time for a drum solo and everyone except for Zimmermann went off stage. Usually I think that drum solos are quite boring but it would be fun to see what Zimmermann would do. The first part of the solo was nothing but an ordinary solo until he pushed a button on his laptop and the venue was filled with can-can music that Zimmermann played along with. It went faster and faster until it stopped, it was a fun and an unusual version of a drum solo. Zimmermann was moved by the standing ovation he got from the crowd and then it was time for the rest of the band to enter the stage again and Hansen announced the song “Armageddon” which was followed by a song taken from the new album that was about all the Gamma Ray fans and about everyone who loves metal. It was the song “To The Metal”. Hansen looked at his bottle of mineral water and it looked like he was thinking that this wasn’t enough. So he went to the side of the stage to grab a glass of beer to the audience delight. At least that was what he thought it was, Hansen said that he drank tea from Africa and nothing else.
The next song was about all things that are prohibited today. Hansen said it was madness that metal acts aren’t aloud to play louder than 100 db and that brought down heavy applauds from the crowd. Fans are not aloud to smoke in the venues anymore either which also was crazy and the only place that you are aloud to make a revolution is in your head said Hansen and fired off the crowd pleaser “Rebellion In Dreamland. In the middle of the song did Hansen switch guitar and he came back on stage with a guitar that was designed as Spunge Bob Square Pants and on that he played a really long guitar solo. Richter thanked the crowd and Hansen picked up another glass of tea (?) and introduced the last song which were “Man On A Mission”. The entire club sang along to the song and in the middle it was time for the crowd to sing accompanied by only drums and bass. When Hansen and guys left the stage had the band played for about 1.20. The band shortly arrived back on stage to do some highly awaited encores for the loving crowd however they didn’t play the song “Ride The Sky” that some of the people in the crowd shouted for during the entire show. First out was “I Want Out” which made the guy next to me very glad because he stood and screamed for the band to play that song for a while. Then followed “Send Me A Sign” which closed the amazing Gamma Ray show. All the members in the band gathered in the middle of the stage to thank the crowd. While the band walked off stage could I hear people shouting for the band to play “Ride The Sky” but that didn’t happen this night.
The show lasted altogether for about 1.35 and the crew started to tear down the stage right away. After 20 minutes was the venue empty and that was a proof of how few people had shown up to see Gamma Ray which was a shame. Despite the small crowd did Gamma Ray deliver a strong show worthy to bee seen by a much bigger crowd. The only thing I wasn’t totally satisfied with was the set list. I thought they played way too many songs from TO THE METAL. The album has pretty recently been released so the crowd hadn’t have time to listen to it and learn the songs properly. I also think that Hansen could have laid off with the looong guitar solos in certain songs.
Besides that was this an amazing show and I wished that more people had come to see them. Gamma Ray was a brilliant booking and Kulturbolaget’s booking people should have credits for taking Gamma Ray to Malmoe.