At this time, the sun had set, so we were well lubricated and ready to rock! We headed back downstairs to the big theater to see Doro (Must See #10) Pretty much every male Metal fan (of a certain age that is) I’ve ever met has had some sort of crush on the beautiful and sexy Metal Queen. After almost 30 years of waiting, it was a treat to see her live in concert. The hour long show consisted of mostly older songs, with many Warlock songs thrown in as well, about half! I enjoy her entire solo catalogue and might enjoyed a more recent song pick than ‘Metal Racer’ for example but it was a very old school Metal set. However, I was just happy to see anything they wanted to perform including the ballad ‘Fur Immer’ and her tribute to Dio, the song ‘Hero’ which consists of sly lyrical references to Dio lyrics. The highlight for me was a ripping fast version of ‘Revenge’ from the new album RAISE TOUR FIST.
INTERVIEW WITH DORO
Soon it was to off to enjoy another band in the pagan/folk/viking genre, Heidevolk (Must See #9) from the Netherlands. The audience was surprisingly large considering they overlapped in a time slot with Doro. The small stage of the Spectrum Lounge looked a bit small with six big hairy Viking dudes on it! The double vocalist and gang vocal attack was particularly effective and loud in the smaller setting. It was the bands first gig outside Europe and they told the assembled masses that they would be touring America, Canada and Mexico this spring on the upcoming PaganFest. They finished the 45 minute set with their ode to beer. How appropriate!
The past five hours were quite intense so I decided to take a few minute break. On the way to the dining room (the slice of pizza five hours ago wasn’t cutting it) I passed by the pool deck and it was utterly packed with people watching Lacuna Coil. I’m always curious why they are so popular and although I like them and had seen them before, I decided to catch their second show on Thursday and refortify myself instead.
With a full stomach and feeling refreshed after sitting down for 20 minutes, it was time for one if my most anticipated shows of the cruise. At 9:00pm in a prime time slot, in the big theater and running unopposed was a highlight of the cruise, Rage and The Lingua Mortis Orchestra. It was packed as everyone came to see the Metal Meets Classical that has been tried by so many but perfected by do few like Rage and the LMO have. Backed by a good looking and young 15-piece orchestra and a female singer, the trio entertained the crowd with a a selection of songs from the LMO era for an hour and 15 minutes.
They played ‘Turn The Page’ from XIII and the orchestral version of ‘Alive But Dead’ from BLACK IN MIND. One of the very special moments was when the band presented the world premier of a song; a metallized rearrangement of a Bach piece. They concluded a magnificent set with the full orchestral version of ‘Empty Hollow’ from STRINGS TO A WEB.
With almost no time to mentally process the spectacle we had just seen, we headed to the Pool Deck and into the chaotic violence of Kreator. It was odd to see Mille, the relaxed, soft-spoken and polite vocalist we had chatted to just 8 hours ago, on stage inciting the crowd with ripping thrash. I would suggest that some of the crowd response to some of the bands during the day on the Pool Deck was a bit more subdued. Perhaps it was fatigue, perhaps the sunny environment, perhaps everyone was too happy and buzzed to mosh, and things were no different for Kreator. Maybe it was the full moon or maybe everyone had a moment to decompress after the mellower Rage gig but when Kreator opened with ‘x’, the crowd was flat. I suppose that it is hard to mosh in flip-flops on the slippery deck. The music however was not flat and by the time they tore into ‘Enemy Of God’ there was a bit of a pit going. They ran through many favourites like ‘Phobia’ and ‘Lords Of Chaos’. For some reason the band had a few sound issues, among the first of the entire trip. It was no surprise that the Kreator merchandise sold out very quickly!
Up next were In Flames in the big Theater. I really enjoyed the band first five albums and have seen them live in concert many times but after a while I was not as thrilled with their newer material and their new direction of the past decade. Although it seems odd to see an active band with no original members left they always put on a good show, despite what I think of the recent albums. (Insert pics) Obviously, I’m in the minority opinion because the Chorus Line was packed, not quite as packed with fans as Rage, Helloween and Sabaton were but as the clock struck the witching hour they were in control of the crowd. The banter of Anders was fun as he invited the fans to crowd surf.
Possibly the mellowest band on the boat Swiss heroes Gotthard were up on the pool deck. This band while phenomenally popular in Switzerland with an unbroken string of eleven #1 albums, they seemed like an odd fit. Personally I enjoy their laid-back melodic Metal sound reminiscent of Bonfire and Pretty Maids and I had never seen them since buying their debut album (again on cassette!) back in 1992 so I was very happy to enjoy Gotthard (Must See # 8) that I assumed I would never see in my lifetime. The new vocalist, Mic Maeder did an admirable job of covering the songs formerly sung by deceased singer Steve Lee.
They opened with ‘Dream On’ from the new album FIREBIRTH and also played the catchy, new single ‘Starlight’. It was certainly an older crowd of Europeans and a few curiosity seekers enjoying the show in a very light scattered rain which mixed with the fog for a nice effect. I’m quite confident thru were the only band on the boat to feature big, harmonized, back up vocals on a melodic sing-along chorus! The bands 70’s Deep Purple influence could be heard especially in the keyboard tones but more obviously in their choice of cover tune to play, specifically the 60’s rock classic, ‘Hush’. Their set list consisted more of their heavier rockers than their ballads, which considering the audience, was a wise choice. Their soulful, southern blend of acoustic and electric was a nice juxtaposition coming out of Kreator and In Flames. Gotthard was a good way to end the night on a mellower note rather than skull fracturing Death Metal pounding my head right before trying to get a few precious hours sleep. Maybe I’m getting old!
We had made it to the halfway point! The Metal-Rules team of A.G., the Thrashmaster and I had made some serious headway. We had already photographed well over two-thirds of all the bands, conducted four interviews, attended the press conference and I had seen and covered 25 of the 41 bands! As a bonus I had knocked off 11 of 19 of my personal Must See bands. It was 2:00am and with a 7:00am wake-up call for some sight-seeing, I was even getting an extra hour sleep compared to the night before!