14th and 15th of December 2010
Tampere and Helsinki
LIVE REVIEW AND PICTURES BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA
German power metal pioneers Helloween have been a regular visitor in Finland since 1987 when the band made its virgin visit in Hameenlinna’s legendary Giants of Rock festival with Dio among other acts. Since then band has faced many up and down hills in its career. The band has gone through many changes including a number of lineup changes and they have had problems with record companies but they have survived and, in fact, during the past few years Helloween’s success has increased tremendously. In 2008 Helloween played two gigs with their colleagues Gamma Ray on the HELLISH ROCK tour and venues were entirely packed. Obviously, due to the highly successful package tour, Helloween have now asked Finnish power metallers Stratovarius to take part in their tour. Doing this tour, without having the new album released, was quite an interesting choice from Stratovarius. However a package consisting of two leading power metal names on the bill turned out to be another great success and the two Finland shows were quickly sold out again.
Before Stratovarius and Helloween unleashed the powerful metallic journey, the Swedish band Avatar kicked the night off. The gig started out with the MacGyver intro – that classic 80’s TV series, being a real odd and eccentric choice. Avatar combined some death metal parts with melodic power metal riffs and irritating screaming vocals. Seriously, if the singer had sung in more melodic way and skipped over all these screams, Avatar would have worked much better as a supporter for Helloween and Stratovarius.
When the Swedes had been dragged from the stage, the Stratovarius gear was set up for their one hour heroic power metal blast. The set was kicked off with INFINITY album track “Phoenix” followed by another classic killer tune “Legions”. The arrival of the singer Timo Kotipelto reminded me slightly of Bruce Dickinson’s way of running to the stage. Unfortunately, Kotipelto’s voice was not the best for most of the show but somehow it got better at the end and “Hunting High and Low” sounded pretty good. Perhaps he should warm up his voice a bit before show time? As is widely known, drummer Jorg Michael wasn’t involved in the first leg of the tour because of the health issues. His fill-in, Alex Landenburg from Axxis, definitely deserves kudos for doing a tremendous job after just a few rehearsals. He did make some slight mistakes like the one during “Eagleheart”, but that didn’t ruin the gig at all. The bands latest addition, guitarist Matias Kupiainen, proved that he’s definitely a worthy replacement for Timo Tolkki. Actually he and bassist Lauri Porra bring much more action on stage compared to the “old days” and that’s a positive thing for sure. The whole band appeared strong and they did a surprisingly good show even though they were in a warm-up role. Apparently that must have given them some extra vibe and energy for sure.
Kiss of Judas
Against The Wind
Speed of Light
Hunting High And Low
After the short roadie break, the opening intro of SEVEN SINNERS roared out of the loudspeakers followed by “Are You Metal?” Seriously, the new song from the latest Helloween album sounded kind of distorted not fitting to the set along with these classic ones from the KEEPER era. The set indeed unsurprisingly consisted of these well known songs from the both KEEPER albums released in the late 80’s. Classic songs such as “March of Time”, Eagle Fly Free” and “I’m Alive” were cheered with massive response from the audience. Judging by the audience reaction, these 80’s classics were once again the most celebrated. Another expected "surprise" was that the gig contained a few mandatory solo sections. Both, drummer Dani Löble and guitarist Sascha Gestner, showed and demonstrated their skills with their instruments. Even though Helloween sounded powerful by proving to be metal, but the expanded version of the classics “Future World” and “I Want Out” was truly an agonizing and unpleasant part of the whole gig. For example “I Want Out” with the cheering and making the audience sing and all kinds of nonsense speeches lasted nearly 20 minutes. Playing these songs with the official timing would have made these one sound the real catchy ones. As mentioned before, the set relied mostly on the 80’s KEEPERS material. There were altogether only three tracks played from the latest opus SEVEN SINNERS (why on earth they drop off the best track “World of Fantasy”?) and the rest was a combination of other Deris era songs like excellent “Handful of Pain” and “Steel Tormentor”. In brief, although the audience always prefers classics, it would still be great if band could somewhat leave its past behind and focus more on newer material. Andi Deris definitely knows how to handle the crowd and although he was having some trouble during the Kiske era material he mainly did an excellent job with his vocals as well. Bassist Markus Grosskopf was another active person on stage whereas another founding member Michael Weikath was faithful for his own personal “lazy man” style. This was definitely a good show but when Helloween played here two years ago there was then certainly slightly more passion and energy on the gigs. Somehow it could be instinct as there was more of a kind of competition between bands because on this tour Helloween is the king on the hill.
Are You Metal?
Eagle Fly Free
March of Time
Where the Sinners Go
You Stupid Mankind
Forever and One (Neverland) (Acoustic)
A Handful of Pain
Keeper of the Seven Keys / King for A Thousand Years / Halloween
I Want Out