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02/08/2007 - 04/08/2007, Wacken Open Air 2007, Part 18 – Wacken – Germany

Wacken 2007 - With Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Immortal, In Flames, Saxon, Dimmu Borgir, Type O Negative, Destruction, Stratovarius, Therion, Cannibal Corpse, Sodom, Sacred Reich, Moonspell, Napalm Death, Amorphis, Possessed, Overkill, Suidakra, Enslaved, Communic, Haggard, Municipal Waste, Belphegor, Subway To Sally, Blitzkrieg, Týr, Torture Squad, Sabbat, Schandmaul, Sahg, Heaven Shall Burn, Mythlorian, Secrets Of The Moon, Swallow The Sun, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Stormwarrior, Haggard en Mambo Kurt.


It’s early August when we head out to Wacken, approximately 70 km North of Hamburg. It has become a tradition for us to make our way to Europe’s largest festival in order to write an account of the annual festivities. Eugene Straver takes care of the pictures and a written contribution was made by Talitha Martijn, Martina Schouten, Thomas van Golen, Koos van Marle and Alwin Heeres.



Since the release of the documentary "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" it can truly be said that Wacken is the metal-mekka of the world. Around seventy thousand people have found their way to the festival to enjoy what Wacken is all about: Live music. Due to the enormous popularity of the festival in the cozy little village, the festival was sold out a number of weeks before it was set to take place, people desperately tried to obtain a ticket at prices over 200 Euro’s. The Wacken festival had just the right vibe to unite metal heads from different cultures and nations; besides a multitude of Germans, large quantities of head banging Europeans flock to the German landmark. It seemed to us that there were also more Dutch people than ever.

At the nineteenth edition of Wacken Open Air we have noticed a couple of changes compared to earlier editions, The Party stage has moved so the overlap with the main stage shows no longer causes any sound disturbance. This also created more field space and thus it was possible to sell more tickets.

The people that arrived on Tuesday were in for a nasty surprise. It was no longer possible to park your car next to your tent . The reason for this was the ongoing heavy rain showers that mother nature had bestowed upon the field in the week before the festival. Parking the cars on the campgrounds would certainly have changed the terrain into a public swamp. All this meant that people had to go on by foot and carry their stuff to a camping spot. However, from Thursday onward the weather forecast read: sun, sun, sun. So luckily the ground started to dry up from then on. One still had to watch his steps though!


On Tuesday and Wednesday the atmosphere was friendly and full of anticipation. Slowly the campgrounds started to become more and more crowded, but everything went well. On Wednesday the first beergarten opened its gates and that night one could enjoy the first live show from The Wackener Firefighters who were welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd in the beergaten. But it has to be said that the highlight of the day was Mambo Kurt, although we didn’t join the fun until the last part of his set, we were still able to witness and appreciate the full scope of the spectacle. The W.E.T. Stage was crammed full of people singing and shouting along to Abba, Rage Against The Machine and the Dutch fans were not afraid to sing along with the songs of Dutch artist Marco Borsato!

Thursday 02/08/2007

Moments before the gates to the festival grounds open, an immense crowd is bustling in anticipation of getting in. Some people are checking out the band shirts in the metalmarket, others are playing football (we even witness some live streaking) and of course, many of us are just enjoying a drink in the beergarten.

For the first time in years we were in time to see the first band of the day. The English band Blitzkrieg had the honor of officially kicking off the festival. A reasonably large crowd has shown up to listen to their somewhat cliché heavy metal. Blitzkrieg are one of the pioneers of the NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal), a couple of their songs have even been covered by the mighty Metallica. The crowd are loving it as they listen to songs such as “Escape From The Village”, “Legion” and “Dark City”. Although singer Brian Ross (ex-Satan) makes a couple of slip-ups here and there, his overall performance is straight up. We hear a number of tracks off their latest album ‘Theatre Of The Damned’: “My life is my own”, for instance, and the classics aren’t forgotten either. Blitzkrieg was definitely a worthy opening act for the first day.



Next up are the Australian Rose Tattoo. Together with AC/DC and the Angels these guys are the founders of the Australian rock scene that came into being in the 70’s. Last year Rose Tattoo hit Wacken’s partystage and this year they have earned a spot on the main stage in the light of “A night to remember”. Earlier this year, Rose Tattoo released a killer album entitled ‘Blood Brothers’ which resulted in a six-week European tour. A large crowd has gathered and we witness a greatest hits set with songs such as “Man About Town”, “One Of The Boys” and new songs like “Black Eyed Bruiser”. They continue to play classics such as “Assault & Battery”, “Rock ‘n Roll is King”, “Manzil Madness” and, of course, “Nothing To Lose”. Rose Tattoo certainly have a groove going on, flaming solo’s and Angry Anderson’s raw vocals contributing to the party. The crowd is finally served with Rose Tattoo’s biggest hits “Scarred for life”, “Bad boy for love”, “Remedy” and public favorite “Nice Boys (Don’t Play Rock ‘n Roll)”. A moment of silence is taken into account to remember the deceased co-founder and slide-guitarist Pete Wells (march 2006) and bass-player Jan Rilen (October 2006) who contributed to Rose Tattoo’s all time greatest hit “Bad Boy For Love”. Rose Tattoo’s performance today was rock solid, their steaming Rock ‘n Roll was certainly convincing.



Today Sodom are scheduled to perform in honor of their 25th anniversary together with a number of guest musicians. The setlist had already appeared on the net ages ago, so no surprises here. After they had played four tracks off their latest album, various veteran artists came on stage to contribute musically to the songs they had once recorded with Sodom on their previous CD’s. Grave Violator, Frank Black Fire, Michael Hoffmann, Andy Brings and Atomic Steif got on stage to play along with classic songs such as “Blasphemer”, Christ Passion”, “Sodomy And Lust”, “Axis Of Evil”, “The Saw Is The Law” and “Wachtum”. Unfortunately, Chris Witchhunter was unable to make it today and so the current Sodom drummer Bobby did the honours. Also, I don’t think guitarist Athanor was present, but maybe that was just me. It was an interesting sight to watch all these original band members play these songs, to say the least. For the die-hard Sodom fan, this was definitely Walhalla! However, somehow the show kind of missed that spark. Although all these oldies were going wild together on stage, there was no real interaction with the crowd. Although it was still kind of early in the day and the crowd did seem to get into it when the set was ended with a number of classics such as “Outbreak Of Evil”, “Ausgebombt”, and “Bombenhagel”.



This year’s headliner of “A night to remember” is the British band Saxon. The band was present at Wacken several times in recent years and they have grown to be one of Germany’s public favorites. When they kick off their show, many metalheads have already secured a good spot and the large field before the stage is absolutely packed with people. Last March the new Saxon record ‘The Inner Sanctum’ was released, their 17th studio album. Saxon have guaranteed us solid, high quality heavy metal for the past 25 years and they are still going strong as is proven today during an hour and a half show. They kick off with “Heavy Metal Thunder” followed by the new song “Let Me Feel Your Power” and their first hit “Dogs Of War”. We also hear the new tunes “If I Was You” which can be downloaded via I-tunes. The revenues of this single will be donated to charity, according to Biff. Another highlight is the vocal contribution of Edguy singer Tobias to the song “747 (Strangers In The Night)”. The crowd goes nuts when they hear songs such as “To Hell And Back Again”, “Motorcycle Man” and “Witchfinder General”. Saxon made an excellent impression today, especially singer Biff whose voice just seems to have gotten better over the years. He also placed a number of daring remarks like “The festival almost got cancelled by the bad weather, the field looked like the battlefields from World War II…..oops”. Bass-player Nibbs Carter must have been working out, as he was all over the place during the entire show. We were also treated to bombastic fireworks, magnificent flames and a grotesque light show. Against the backdrop video images were shown which complemented the show nicely. We hear classics such as “Solid Ball Of Rock”, “20.000 Feet”, “Dallas 1 PM” and “Princess Of The Night”. In between songs, Biff films the crowd for is personal achieves. As a grand finale “the eagle” rises from behind the drum kit. More classics follow, but the new songs “Red Star Falling" and "I 've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)” are equally well received by the fans. Drummer Nigel Glockner (who has returned to the old nest) goes mad behind the kit playing song’s such as "Atilla The Hun", "Denim And Leather", "Ashes To Ashes" and "Crusader". This fantastic spectacle comes to an end with the classic songs “Wheels Of Steel" and "Strong Arm Of The Law” and this show will be surely be noted as a memorable one in the books of metal history. One last burst of fireworks and then it’s all history, praise be!!!



Hatesphere has become a very well-known thrash band over the last couple of years. The band has recently been seen frequently on the European stages, we saw the band working it several weeks ago at the German Earthshaker festival. The Danish quintet impressed us with the album ‘Ballet Of The Brute’ in 2004 and the sequel 'The Sickness Within'. The extreme, brutal thrash metal and furious hardcore that the band seems to effortlessly combine has also ensured a stable band of followers across Europe. The field of the Hellfest Stage has filled up completely as Hatesphere opens the set with the songs "Lies And Deceit", "Murderous Intent" and "The Slain". Of course, today’s set consists mainly of songs off the album ‘Serpent Smiles And Killer Eyes’, which was released earlier this year: "Drinking With The King Of The Dead" and "Forever War". The fanatical audience goes nuts as Hatesphere presents us with a very strong and impressive performance. They kick the accelerator once more and showcase songs like "The Coming Of Chaos" and "Only The Strongest". The Danes conclude their show with the pounding "Damned Below Judas" and "Reaper Of Life", an so ends a successful and dynamic show.



We can always rely on Overkill for some old-fashioned, no-nonsense thrashing! At the very last moment, this band was added to the bill, they were appointed to the Party Stage (on Thursday it was called Hellfest Stage). Even though headliner Saxon is playing at the exact same time, the field is flooded with metalheads. Unlike Sodom they are on a roll, playing oldies such as "Rotten To The Core", "In Union We Stand", "Elimination" and "Wrecking Crew". And we like what we’re hearing. Time for some new stuff: They play “Skull And Bones " But it doesn’t seem to be a direct hit. The same applies to the second song of which I even forgot the title. The party continues when they play "Fuck You", and unfortunately they have no more songs in store for us so we leave with smiles on our faces.



Since we have a long weekend ahead of us, we decide to skip the nightly entertainment in the shape of the metalkaraoke and the Beer Garden. Maybe we’ll even be up in time to witness tomorrow’s first act!!        

Friday 03/08/2007
Saturday 04/08/2007