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31/07/2008 - 02/08/2008, Wacken Open Air 2008, Part 19 – Wacken – Germany

Wacken 2008 - With Girlschool, Airbourne, Avenged Sevenfold, Kamelot, Cynic, Nashville Pussy, The Haunted, Massacre, Leaves Eyes, Job for a Cowboy, Unearth, Opeth, Soilwork, 3 Inches of Blood, Mercenary, Exodus, Nifelheim, Lordi, Ensiferum, Grave, Corvus Corax, Gorerotted, Nightwish, Primordial, Gorgoroth, Killswitch Engage, At the Gates, Avantasia, Carcass, Children Of Bodom, Hatebreed, Iron Maiden, Kreator.

It is early August and it has become a tradition for us to head for Wacken this time of the year. The small town some 70 km north of Hamburg is the home to the biggest metal festival in Europe and we’re going there to shoot pictures, write a review and party. Eugene Straver will handle the camera while Talitha Martijn, Martina Schouten, Thomas van Goolen, Koos van Marle and Alwin Heeres will lay the story down on paper.


Every year many metalheads from across the globe make their way to Wacken, a small town just north of Hamburg, in order to be part of Europe’s biggest metal festival. Since the release of the documentary “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” it is safe to say that Wacken is the official European metal-mekka. Over 80.000 people gathered there this year to enjoy beer, metal and most of all, music. There was a slightly larger number of tickets available for the 19th edition of the festival which was completely sold out once again, even months before the festival took place a whopping 75.000 tickets had already gone over the counter.
Now let’s get to the music!!

Thursday 31/07/2008

Shortly before the gates to the festival area open, there is a great bustle on the Wacken premises. Many people are waiting patiently for the gates to open, others are doing a bit of shopping at the metal market, playing football or having a drink in the beergarten. The moment we arrive, we taste the fantastic Wacken atmosphere. Please note that it’s impossible for us to review every single band on the bill and so we are forced to make a selection. Obviously we have decided to omit the yearly recurring acts like Mambo Kurt.

When the gates to the festival open, the site immediately starts to fill with anxious metalheads. The English band Girlschool has the honor of officially opening the event, these girls know how to rock and soon they manage to draw a large crowd to the main stage. Girlschool has been around for an odd 30 years and today we witness an overview of the band’s complete catalogue. The audience is quite obviously here to hear them play the classics such as “Race With The Devil” and “Demolition Boys” off their 1980 debut album ‘Demolition’. Excellent kick off!! (Talitha Martijn)


The second band of this day is Nashville Pussy from Atlanta, another band with two tough metalbabes in its ranks. The Nashville Pussy ladies make sparks fly on the Party stage, especially Ruyter Suys who is definitely one of the most talented female guitarists I’ve seen. During the show she just keeps on blasting the crowd with one solo after the other. Nashville Pussy are rockin’ it like there’s no tomorrow and we hear songs such as “Goodnight For A Heart Attack”, “Say Something Nasty” and the Ike & Tina classic “Nutbush City Limits”. Singer Blaine Cartwright doesn’t waste any time talking and at the end of the show guitarist Ruyter climbs high into the framework onstage for a grand finale. Spectacular show! (Talitha Martijn)


Concerning Lauren Harris, we have only a few things to say. Her singing qualities are not all that, now and then she even sings completely out of tune. It appears the only reason why she is here today is because her father plays in Iron Maiden. I have failed to find anything interesting about this band. (Talitha Martijn)


We have heard a lot about the acclaimed AC/DC clone Airborne and it turns out no-one has said a word too much. Musically- including the semi- off key vocals- this band can be labeled as an AC/DC tribute band. They play the intro “Bad Boys” followed by “Rock ‘n Roll Till Death”, “Hellfire”, “Diamond In The Rough” and “Girl In Black” during which the guitarist climbs onto the stage framework. After an interesting version of Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” it’s time for the final song “Blackjack”. All I can say is, if AC/DC ever really quits, this band will be the next in line. (Thomas van Golen)

The American band Avenged Sevenfold is one of Iron Maiden’s support acts on their current ‘Somewhere Back In time World Tour’. They play an impressive set on the Black stage consisting of songs such as “Beast And The Harlot”, “Almost Easy”, “Unholy Confessions” and “Gunslinger”. They have a good sound going on but, although they are quite entertaining, we decide halfway through the set to go and find a good spot to watch the Iron Maiden show that’s coming up next. (Eus)

Just over a month ago, Iron Maiden headlined the Graspop festival in Belgium and today they’ll do the honours for Wacken. They have come here with their ‘Somewhere back in time’ world tour for which they have brought along the pyramid props they used during the ‘World slavery’ tour . And much to the pleasure of many fans, the setlist will comprise mostly of material from that very period. Many people have made their way to the True Metal Stage early in order to secure a good spot to watch the show from. The organisation has anticipated upon the large crowd that will show up for Iron Maiden’s performance and have placed giant video screens on the site so that people can watch the show even from inside the Wetstage tent. By the time we hear the Maiden intro “Doctor Doctor” (UFO) the festival site has completely filled up with people, not a square inch of grass is left uncovered! The moment we hear Churchill’s voice bellowing from the speakers, the crowd swells and roars with excitement. Maiden kicks off with the exact same songs as they did for the ‘World slavery’ tour: “Aces High” and “Two Minutes To Midnight” and they continue to play a string of classics. We hear “The Trooper”, “Powerslave”, “Revelations”, “Wasted Years” and their undisputed masterpiece “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”. Especially singer Bruce Dickinson is in excellent shape today and he has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Dickinson makes ample use of the props on stage, running and jumping around. At one point, he gives one of the cameramen an earful for blocking his view of the crowd with the camera crane. We enjoy the constantly changing backdrops and an impressive lightshow as we listen to “Can I Play With Madness”, “The Number Of The Beast”, “Run To The Hills” and “Fear Of The Dark’. All our senses are teased as we watch, listen and sing along with these Iron Maiden classics. Occasionally, Bruce Dickinson shouts ‘Scream for me Wacken….’ And the crowd willingly obeys. The set is ended with the band’s hymn “Iron Maiden” during which an enormous Eddie emerges from the giant pyramid at the back of the stage. Of course we are treated to a number of encores: “Moonchild”, “The Clairvoyant” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. Iron Maiden has definitely made this one ‘a night to remember’!!! We wonder how the Wacken organisation is going to top this opening night next year….. A slight note of criticism for Maiden: Over the years, their set list has become more than predictable. The set comprises mostly of songs taken from their older work and although the audience relishes these albums, we dare say it can be expected from a band such as Iron Maiden to add a bit of variety to the various shows, as many fans are bound to attend more than one concert.

After Iron Maiden have finished playing, the party is still going strong in the backstage bar but we decide to be sensible and go to our tents relatively on time, seeing as we still have a long weekend ahead of us. Due to the overlap in the programme we have had to miss the bands Mustach and Leaves Eyes. Better luck next time. (Eus)

Friday 01/08/2008
Saturday 02/08/2008