I Can

I’ve been a Helloween fan for as long as I can remember, but I let the membership of that club slip from my grasp in the early 90’s around the time that Chameleon and Pink Bubbles Go Ape surfaced. That’s also the stretch of albums where Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg all departed.

I might have given Master of the Rings a listen at some point – the first album with Andi Deris taking the frontman’s spotlight – but it wasn’t on a par with the pair of Keeper albums or Walls of Jericho. Over the course of the next two decades and ten albums I never really gave the “new” line up a chance. I dipped in to the back catalogue every once in a while but nothing grabbed my attention. I have even seen them live four times since 2008 too. Three of those at festivals and the other in London purely due to the fact that Rage were supporting in a rare UK visit.

Actually a Helloween visit to these shores is a rarity in itself. My four live experiences of the band have been part of only seven in the same time period. None of those seven have been outside of London unless it’s been a festival stage that they have graced.

Needless to say, I’ve never been excited about an upcoming album release in the last two decades and hardly been expectant of a tour announcement, but all that changed some months ago and now I’m sitting at home with the winter sun streaming through the window on Armistice Day plotting.

Hansen and Kiske are rejoining the rest of the current line up to participate in a world tour with under the Pumpkins United banner and I really want to go, even more so since the first shows in South America when the setlist hit the internet and it’s a collection on Germanic power metal songs to die for. So many songs I’ve grown up with in the past thirty years and ones I’d never thought I’d see live and especially with Kiske on vocals.

So onto the dilemma. The only British appearance is on Tuesday in London (obviously). I’ve pretty much ran out of holidays at work so if I was to make the spectacle I’d have to head down to the big smoke on the train after work and either be on a train home by 10pm to make it home before 1230am Wednesday, or I can suck it up, see the full set and get the last train 90 minutes later and roll into bed less than two and a half hours before my alarms go off for work. If I went for the first option I’d get a pretty decent set list (longer than some bands I’ve seen lately) and plenty of the early stuff I’m craving to see. Their Stuttgart show last night clocked in at just under three hours long!

There’s a third alternative, but a bit of a long shot if I’m being honest. Next week I’m off work, talk about bad timing, and the band take to the 013 stage in Tilburg on Monday evening. Eight days in advance and the flight prices aren’t overly expensive (especially considering what a train might cost me) and I’m sure I can grab a bed to sleep in relatively cheaply. Watch this space.

In a response to my renewed vigour for the German troupe I’ve put all the back catalogue in my iTunes library and listened to the missing albums with a much more open mind and there’s been some really great hidden gems popping up over the course of the last few weeks. Taken from 1998’s Better Than Raw, I Can is one of those gems. It’s time I go and do something useful for the day before it suddenly turns into Monday, but I’ll still be running the pros and cons in my mind until Tuesday morning easily.

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Halloween

  

October 31st marks the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain which marks the ending of the harvest season and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year. 

The Christianised version is what we know as Hallowe’en – a festival for remembering the dead – which precedes All Saints’ Day and finishes with a day commemorating the faithful departed, usually relatives (All Souls’ Day). 

Like many festivals with religious connotations it has been “hijacked” and commercialised into something much more different than it was intended to be. Now people are out on the towns dressed as ghouls, zombies and weirdly Disney characters and paying over the odds to get into clubs with an abundance of spewing smoke machines and cobwebs, just to drink spookily named and coloured cocktails and dance the night away to “scary” songs. Hallowe’en and Mischief Night now feel like they are dragged out over a week or more depending on when the 31st falls. 

We’ve been in the States around this time of year a few times now, and even spent time in the horror attractions at Universal Studios. We’ve seen how big a deal it is over there and over the last decade or so it’s influences on UK shores has grown exponentially. I can’t remember exactly when the supermarkets here had an aisle dedicated to today, but I can remember when it never caused a blip in their store, apart from a much larger pile of pumpkins – the only decorations I can recall seeing as a kid. 

For a dyed in a he wool metal fan it seems all very perplexing that the straight laced people we might work with week in week out all of a sudden joins our clan, and gets an interest in fake blood, horror films, wearing black head to toe and having that three day love affair with reanimated dead bodies. By the Monday after All Hallows’ Eve it’s a case of “can we have our sub culture back now please, you’re embarrassing us”, as people and venues now move onto planning their overpriced Christmas and New Year events. 

So happy Hallowe’en and what better band is there to “celebrate” it with that German band Helloween. You don’t know how hard it’s been to type this out and write Hallowe’en without using three E’s!!

Live Arena 2016.5

A bit of a quiet week to kick off February’s gigs, but this month I have at least one trip over a body of water (maybe two!)

Wednesday – London Forum

A quick trip down to the big smoke for some German metal.  My main reason for agreeing to go to this one nearly six months ago was to see Rage for the first time in six years, which was also their last time here, and the first time indoors for me. I wasn’t too bothered about missing the biggest part of Helloween, but they were impressive at Hard Rock Hell I’m now a bit gutted I’ve got to duck away from the venue for a 10pm train.

 

Friday – Crewe, The Box

My first time seeing local punks Discharge for 2016 and I know it won’t be the last time this year. Now signed to Nuclear Blast Records hopefully they’ll start to get the recognition they deserve.

 


Sunday – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms

Not 100% sure about this one just yet.  The ex-Sepultura frontman is coming through the UK with Soulfly.  I’m not a big Soulfly fan, but a friend recommended Australian band King Parrot to me and this is their first time here since that recommendation. At least it will be an early finish to get home if I go.

 

The Live Arena 3

Next week is a four day week at work then I “should” be off for 10 whole days, but things never seem to work out that way with the people I work for! Also, I hope I’m clear of this niggly cold and sore throat.

Thursday – Manchester Apollo.

Megadeth roll into town on their Dystopia tour. Quite a package has been put together for the UK leg. Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler will be pulling double duty and Children of Bodom from Finland and the UK’s own Sylosis will all be treading the boards.

Friday & Saturday – Haven Holiday Camp, Pwllheli.

Two long days of metal and free flowing alcohol is looming. Forty odd bands over three days, but I’m only there for two. From 80’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal to Los Angeles sleaze via German power metal and some of the UK’s best up and coming rock bands, there is quite a choice for your viewing pleasure.

I Want Out

Next weekend – Friday 13th to Saturday 14th – I’ll be attending Hard Rock Hell 9 held at the Haven holiday camp in Pwllheli, North Wales, the second of my biannual trips to the camp.

Hard Rock Hell is one of a number of events ran by Chic Events, most at this location, but more recently a few others venues. Our other visit is for Hard Rock United in March which now encompasses the heavy side with Hammerfest and their AOR event. They used to be on consecutive weekends, but now all joined together. The festivals are held at the holiday camp during the camp’s close season. A few thousand rockers who stay on site watching live music and drinking plenty of alcohol certainly makes someone some money when the place would usually be closed.

Over the next week I’ll be posting videos of some of the 45+ bands playing I’ll be attempting to see. As with any multi stage venue you’re not going to see everybody, but I’d hope for at least 7 a day!

First up Friday headliners, German power metalers Helloween.

I’ve been listening to this band since I got into heavy music. Their first few release were very thrash metal, but when the Keeper of the Seven Keys albums came out they lost some of their heaviness and became pioneers of the European power metal scene (power metal – somewhere between traditional heavy metal and thrash metal)

I lost touch with all things Helloween after they released the truly awful Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon albums and vocalist Michael Kiske (once rumoured to be Bruce Dickinson’s replacement when he left Iron Maiden) was fired. I’ve only seen the band live once at 2008’s Bloodstock festival, so it’s time to give them another go!!

I Want Out is taken from 1988’s opus Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt II – the band wanted to release both albums together as a double, but their label said no.