The 16th of January 2006
Review by Arto Lehtinen & Pics by Marko Syrjälä
Gamma Ray has gained a fanatical and loyal fanbase up here in Finland. Whenever the band visits Finland, venues are more or less packed by hundreds of people willing to testify to Kai Hansen’s heavy metal universe’s own power metal mission. Frankly, a gig on Monday night isn’t the ideal time to spread the metal mission because people are forced to get up in the morning to rush to schools or day jobs. For example, the Tavastia club wasn’t even near to sold out, compared to Gamma Ray’s gig in 2001 at the Nosturi club with Sonata Arctica and Vanishing Point. It was odd as there was no support act booked for the Finnish dates since the Swedish power metallers Nocturnal Rites had opened for Gamma Ray for a few gigs. On the other hand, it was more pleasant to experience the Armageddon of heavy metal mania without any boring support acts.
Gamma Ray had just visited the annual and prestigious Tuska Festival last summer, performing a one-hour set of the most well-known GR tunes and one new track from the MAJESTIC album. Unfortunately, their Tuska gig didn’t go as planned as the German power metallers faced unexpected problems during the short weekend visit. One of their roadies got sick, and severe technical problems plagued the band’s gig during the whole 60 min set. It now seemed like the band’s curse of Finland just carried on on the current tour as Henjo Richter slipped in the stairs on the ferry and had managed to injury his elbow and some parts of his body, resulting in that he couldn’t move an inch of his arm nor move his body. The whole gig was in jeopardy to be canceled. But despite the unlucky accident, there was another side of the story as well rescuing the night’s gig. The die-hard core Gamma Ray fans are definitely aware of this Finnish Gamma Ray tribute band called Guardian Of Mankind, whose keyboard player Eero Kaukomies has been utilized to handle the keyboard for the tour. Therefore it was quite a logical and easy decision for Hansen to recruit the guitarist from the same tribute band to step in to replace the injured Richter. The tribute band’s guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen quickly rehearsed the night’s set, including a couple of new songs from “MAJESTIC” in the tour bus and the soundcheck. Despite the short warning time, the guy was more than ready to jump into Richter’s shoes and came like a storm by taking the audience with the tight and high skilled playing experience.
When the opening song “Gardens Of The Sinner” roared out of speakers, most of the audience definitely dropped their jaws to the floor when realizing Henjo Richter had been replaced by a guy from the Finnish tribute band. Kai Hansen immediately rushed to explain to the crowd about the eccentric situation.
Kai was in his element with the guitar behind the mic. His joy and excitement on the stage were delightful to follow, and even he enthusiastically moved on the stage along with the hired guy around the stage. Obviously, the young blood made Kai act more active on the stage. Drummer Zimmerman has become more and more an important as well as an influential drummer in the power metal genre from playing in Freedom Call. Therefore his drum solo didn’t come as any big surprise. Schlacter moved from one side to another quite effectively all the time, and all the chorus parts with the Finnish keyboard player went very well. The playing and chemistry within the band were in a great balance, and everything worked well. The Finnish guy definitely brought some tightness to the playing.
The balance of the neo-classical metal and aggressive even a little thrash metal-oriented style fits perfectly to the sound of the power metal guardians of mankind as the night’s set had been changed a little bit due to Richter’s accident. However, it had been built to consist of both old and newer material picked up equally from albums such as POWERPLANT, NEW WORLD ORDER, SOMEWHERE OUT IN SPACE, LAND OF THE FREE, and even HEADING FOR TOMORROW and, of course, the brand new album MAJESTIC. Of course, Gamma Ray has a large catalog of classic and great battle hymns recorded in their long career, it wouldn’t be any bad idea to alter the setlist somehow as the evergreen ones like “Rebellion,” “Valley Of The King,” “Somewhere Out In Space” has belonged to the routine gig of Gamma Ray for years.
The addition of the hired guitarist forced the band to add one of the legendary Helloween tunes, namely “I Want Out,” to the set, which was, after all, a good way of concluding the special evening. Overall the Finn-German power metal pentad did an absolute ass-kicking gig indeed. The hired guitarist was phenomenal by learning the new tracks so quickly and playing the gig with a huge passion. Yes, Gamma Ray once again came and conquered the Finnish metal soil. Hopefully, the Finnish Gamma Ray fans won’t need to wait at least four years to see Kai Hansen again.
Gardens Of The Sinner
Heaven Can Wait
One With The World
Heavy Metal Universe
Beyond The Black Hole
New World Order
Rebellion In Dreamland
Land Of The Free
Valley Of The Kings
Somewhere Out In Space
I Want Out
MORE PICTURES FROM HELSINKI SHOW:
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