6’th of April 2014
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA AND ARTO LEHTINEN
The Metal All Stars touring circus landed in Finland in April. The whole tour had been advertised to have all the legendary heavy metal stars altogether, such as Rob Halford, Vince Neil, Cronos, Tom Araya, Phil Anselmo, and the former Megadeth guys Nick Menza and Martin Friedman. However, the tour turned out to be one hell of a bluff when these legends vanished from the poster or announced no taking part in the Metal All Stars thing at all. Obviously, the organization behind the curtains hasn’t pleased the bands and musicians that much either. When Metal All-Star finally arrived after wild rumors and gossips, the 12000 seat Hartwall Arena was literally empty when only 2000 had crawled to witness the Metal All-Stars. Well, the Metal-Rules.Com was at present, witnessing this eccentric spectacle.
The whole Metal All-Star spectacle kicked off Death Dealer featuring ex and current Lizzy Borden, Halford, Manowar, and The Cage. The five-piece delivered a lesson on the old school US speed/power metal. The frontman Sean Peck has high-pitched vocals combined with the way he looked, is reminiscent of the legendary Metal God, Rob Halford, more or less. As an opening band, Death Dealer had the merciless and difficult task to play in the front of a couple of dozens in the front row. The metallers didn’t let them down. Instead, they unleashed a ballistic metal assault in a very professional way. As this Metal All-Star show, the set was concluded by the old Manowar hymn “Hail And Kill.”
Canadian Paige Kobra was probably the less known artist on the lineup. Kobra and the Lotus is the band she is known for, but tonight, Kobra focused mainly on classic cover songs instead of her own material. Manowar’s “Kings of Metal” opened the set. Kobra has a strong and wide voice, and she’s a hot-looking woman, but honestly, it was more interesting to follow former Manowar guys Ross the Boss and Rhino playing together on the backing band. Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” was too difficult, but Paige sounded much better on Kobra and the Lotus track “50 Shades of Evil”. Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” was the last song, and the show was over. It was great to have at least one woman on the Metal All-Star line-up, although it felt that her role was to be like a karaoke hostess on this tour.
Shadows Fall’s frontman Brian Fair hit the stage next, performing a four-song set. He mostly performed the songs of his own band like “Light That Blinds,” “Thought Without Words,” and “What Drives The Weak” and concluded the set with the Slayer cover tune “Raining The Blood” with Max Cavalera sharing the vocals. Even though Shadows Fall enjoys some following in Finland, the audience seemed not to care about the set. However, Fair tried to get the pit starting and praised the Baltic audience’s relentless pit. Instead, the crowd stared at his relentless performance on the stage. The Slayer cover with Max Cavalera sounded horrible for sure – terrible singing, terrible sounds, and finally a bit chaotic performance without energy.
JOE LYNN TURNER
Former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner was added to the Metal All Stars line-up just a few weeks ago. In fact, Turner wasn’t going to join the tour, but he would perform on this one-off show in Helsinki. The rumor says that the Metal All-Star organization had no clue about Mr. Turner’s appearance but just one day before the show because Turner was booked there by some other party. Joe started his brief set with old Deep Purple classic “Smoke on the Water,” which was a bit of an odd choice. Rainbow’s “I Surrender” followed, and then the band went to another Purple song, “Highway Star.” Perhaps the band just had no time to learn anything but the most obvious and best-known songs from Joe’s career with this short withdrawal period? The last song, “Long Live Rock ’n Roll,” just confirmed this impression. After the performance, I felt a little sorry on behalf of Joe. The man himself sang great and tried his best, but the backing band hardly knew how to play these songs. I have never heard such a bad version of “Highway Star” before, and that’s a lot to say.
Even Max Cavalera got on the stage to do a four-song set of his own, and finally, the audience woke up from the coma. After the opening riff of “Refuse/Resist” broke the air, a couple of dozens of attendances arranged soof pit, whereas the rest of the crowd rather followed the gig. Max’s set equally consisted of two Sepultura and two Soulfly tunes. Both “Primitive” and “Eye For An Eye” sounded extremely good and harsh, as well as “Refuse/Resist” and “Roots” concluding the set. It is odd Max does the old Sepultura songs live even though he refuses to sign the kids’ Sepultura stuff, claiming “he is no longer in the band”… That is truly lame behavior! However, Max’s raw hardcore-ish vocal approach is brutal and hasn’t lost an inch over these years. His metalcore days are long gone, as his old punk spirit could be heard in the raw playing and witnessed his look and clothes. To sum up the set and the performance, it was good, even though the background bands disappeared to the shadow during the gig.
Udo Dirkschneider was celebrating his 63’rd birthday tonight, and what could be a better way to celebrate but be on the stage, right!? The German tank has been a regular visitor in Finland, and his band U.D.O enjoys such a good following here. Udo started his set with the U.D.O song “Animal House,” and it was followed by Accept classics “Metal Heart” and “Balls to the Wall.” Except for other artists, Udo was now backed up by Finnish U.D.O. guitarist Kasper Heikkinen. Maybe it was because of him, but Udo sounded pretty much the same as his regular shows. At the end of the set, Brian Fair and some other guys brought out a birthday cake and “surprise gift box” on stage. Then Udo opened the box, and there was not a hot female stripper but a guy who was wearing only women’s string in there. Everyone laughed, and the band, feat. the string man then closed the set with “Fast as a Shark.” No surprises on the list, but Udo did solid work on stage, and he was easily one of the best performers tonight.
Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna was one of the more interesting guests of the evening. The long-awaited “comeback” album WORSHIP MUSIC was a great success a few years ago, and they also got their first-ever Grammy notification from their cover version of old AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” Belladonna opened his thunderous set with Anthrax classic’s “Madhouse” and “Medusa.” The latter was definitely one of the highlights of the whole event, and it kicked out some serious ass. As expected, “T.N.T” got great feedback, and the whole venue was shouting loud the classic three letters. Rainbow classic “Man on the Silver Mountain” closed the set. It sounded ok, but it should definitely have been replaced by an Anthrax classic instead. But overall, this was a decent performance. Joey sounded good, and it was interesting to follow him and the new Anthrax guitarist Joe Donais working together on stage. See you again at Tuska!
Zakk Wylde concluded the whole three-hour Metal All-stars event by doing five tunes. It is hard to say if he was a headliner or what role he played in the Metal All-Star line-up. However, he started set with the old Black Sabbath classic “Into The Void,” continued by “Fairies Wear Boots” and “N.I.B,” and concluded with the old classic “War Pigs.” In general, the set was pure old Black Sabbath worship with mandatory and safe classic songs recognized by every mortal human being. Wylde’s own song “Stillborn” by Black Label Society fits into the Sabbath classics set. Obviously, no-one recognized that one, apart from the most fanatical fans. Of course, picking those songs is an obvious choice to please the audience, whereas unknown songs would have let the traditional rock fans down bitterly. Fortunately, the playing time was limited, so he was unable to give a 60-minute guitar solo. Instead of listening to those songs in a row was much more pleasant! If Zakk was a star on the stage stealing the whole show, it’s gotta be pointed out the bassist Blasko, who mostly remained in the dark part of the stage, handled his job more than perfectly. His performance was absolutely wild and maniac. Zakk Wylde will return with his Black Label Society to Finland in the summer, and then it will be possible to hear more BLS tunes.
Many questions are coming up regarding the Metal All Stars; why the heck this event had to be arranged in a huge venue when the selling figures didn’t justify it? What was the real reason behind all those last-minute cancellations? Why did some musicians pay to get involved in this tour – what’s the point? For many musicians on tour, what is the point of being some jukebox singer cos their own bands could go out and tour by playing the same cover tunes if necessary? And shall Metal All-Stars return? There will be a lot of post-speech in the air once this tour is finally over.