Day 9 – A song about alcohol.
Tankard – (Empty) Tankard
I could of picked almost anything from Tankard’s back catalogue, there are a lot of alcohol related tracks in their career.
When it’s my time to leave this mortal coil there are two things I want to happen on the day. When the funeral procession leaves wherever to my final destination I don’t want it to drive slowly and clog up all the roads. I’ve been stuck behind way too many funeral processions to know how frustrating it is for people still going about their daily work.
Secondly I want to be slightly late! I used to pride myself on my punctuality for most things that weren’t work based. In the last couple of decades I seem to be late for anything and everything. Today is just another point in case.
I’ve had more than six hours since I got up this morning to get ready and arrive at the station in time. So rather than being prepared I decide to hunt for a specific shirt (which I didn’t locate) within the hour window of having to be seven miles away. Then I manage to drop my cash card behind the radiator. Rather than falling straight through to the floor, as would do 99% of the time, it ledges on some detritus behind the fins. I end up leaving fifteen minutes before my train leaves and I make it with minutes to spare.
Now ensconced in my seat for the next ninety minutes I’m trying to calm down and listen to some music. First track playing after hitting shuffle is the title track from the most recent album from the alcohol soaked Tankard. Ironically trying to put this CD into my iTunes library and syncing the phone was a contributing factor to my mad dash to the station. My PC and the iTunes interface really don’t get along!
It’s also ironic that I’m listening to a German thrash metal stalwart, who this year celebrate 35 years together as a band, as I make my journey to London to watch a band that the old guard will undoubtedly pass the German thrash metal torch onto in the near future.
I think I wrote in the last Tankard post that I’d be seeing them in Scotland in September. For whatever unexplained reason that had been replaced with a date in Portugal, which has now been replaced by another German show, so another year without the Frankfurt band gracing a British stage. There are a couple of options involving a short flight to see them in either Berlin or Eindhoven in December which I might have a peruse at next time I’m off work.
Until then here’s the video for One Foot in the Grave, from the superb album of the same name, that isn’t all about alcohol. I’m not old enough yet for my leather diaper but I hope I go senile in style.
Well we’ve had half of the Thrashing East line up, so I may as well do the remainder, and considering they’re two of the powerhouses of German thrash metal you’re getting no complaints from your author.
I’ll kick off with alcohol obsessed Frankfurt band Tankard. Aren’t all Germans alcohol obsessed? I always thought that was just a given.
For a band that have been in existence since 1982 and never really split up, they are the other side of the coin to show up and coming musicians that the businesses isn’t always the means of paying the bills. I don’t know if that was the case during the pinnacle of thrash, but 32 years along the line they have to rely on full time employment. They still play a handful of shows, but they are now into the realms of weekend warriors, usually playing a clump of shows over weekends and presumably using holidays for the occasional longer tour.
Back in 1990 they were up to their fourth album The Meaning of Life – my gateway release into the band and possibly my favourite of theirs, even though it is often derided by fans. The first three albums were much simple and thrashier affairs in comparison and full of youthful exuberance and not quite as beer soaked. This album is that bit more experimental, but once musicians gain confidence with the tools of their trade they get more expressive and attempt something more difficult.
I’ve only had the chance to see them once and that was in Barcelona a few years back. Only playing twice in London in sixteen years doesn’t help that statistic. Having said that I have a Tankard show pencilled in the diary when they play their first ever show north if Hadrian’s Wall in 2017, but it’s not until September 2017. Aeons away.
The full Tankard set was issued on VHS under the title Open All Night and later on DVD as Open All Night… Reloaded in 2009 along with a German festival appearance and a trio of promotional videos making the numbers up.
(Empty) Tankard was originally included on the debut release Zombie Attack in 1986, and when I saw them bring their set to a conclusion in Spain with this track it got the biggest reaction of the evening. It’s one of those songs a band daren’t drop from the setlist or there’d be a riot on the street.
Staying in Deutschland with the thrash metal vibe, here’s the third of the quartet from the so called Teutonic Thrash Big 4 – Tankard.
Found propping up the bars of Frankfurt with a beer stein in hand, Tankard are definitely the less serious band of the four. Not as many songs about nuclear winters, psychotic butchers or generally hating everything in the world, Tankard’s views are predominately seen from the bottom of a beer glass! They have also written what I’m guessing is the only song written from the perspective of an ice cube! (Ice – Olation from 2006’s The Beauty and the Beer)
Since their inauguration in school back in 1982 the two core members have always been vocalist Gerre and Frank on bass. They’ve had a few other musicians through the door in thirty odd years, but nowhere near as many as some bands have had. Their recorded output has been pretty steady over the same timeline with 16 studio albums to date, and that is coming from what I guess you could call a part time band.
Nowhere as near prolific on the touring circuit as the other three bands due to them working full time and having to use holidays to play shows. You’ll often see their gigs announced in pairs over a weekend in the same country, or a neighbouring country at the very least, to make the journey worth while. The last time Tankard played outside of London on this island was back in support of The Meaning Of Life album in 1990 (the record that got me into the band coincidentally) and since then they have only visited twice in 2006 and 2009 and both times in London at The Underworld.
Similarly to yesterdays tale regarding Mortal Sin, Tankard are yet another band I have had to trudge over to Europe to see. January last year in fact. at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon I was still in the UK. By 8pm I was in the Razzmatazz II venue in Barcelona watching Crisix open up for Tankard. I was grinning from ear to ear like the proverbial Cheshire Cat by the end of show closer (Empty) Tankard.
With the growth of festivals like Bloodstock and Hammerfest over here I can’t believe no festival has taken a punt on bringing these alcohol fuelled German’s over for a 60 minute slot. One day.
Now that was hard work trying to narrow down a top ten of shows I attended this year from over 70 shows. In front of me now I have a list scrawled out of 17 memorable shows for one reason or another and enough scribble on the page to fill a small diary.
Some of the shows that I had to cut included debut UK shows form Belgium’s Bloodrocuted and Vektor from the United States. AC/DC rocking the foundations of Wembley Arena. The mega line up of Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod on the Deathcrusher tour. Intimate shows by Anthrax in Brighton and Iron Reagan in Manchester. And the merging of my teenage years and some of the newest bands on the Slam Dunk Festival (PVRIS, Beartooth, H2O and Millencolin). Finally, a honourable mention to Discharge, the inovators of D-Beat, playing a home town show to a packed venue with their new vocalist JJ.
So here it goes…
10 – Bloodstock Festival (Catton Hall 7-9th August)
I was going to steer clear of lumping a festival as one, but there were some superb performances this year. Finally seeing Dark Angel was a huge plus. Nuclear Assault’s last UK appearance. Sepultura, Overkill and Re-Animator showing everyone the old bands still have it, and overlooking the technical difficulties, Within Temptation’s headline slot had everything you wanted.
A flying trip to Holland to catch the Killfest tour. The second time I’d seen Sanctuary, but the first time with a roof. They were flawless and Overkill were as solid as ever. An added bonus of the Hedon venue being so good.
I could have picked their debut show at Hammerfest a few days earlier, but after the initial disappointment of seeing what part of the venue they were playing, it was so pleasing viewing a band playing in such a small space with so much enthusiasm.
I could have picked anyone of the three shows I attended on this tour, but by the time they sailed into Dublin they had all hit their stride, especially the returning Acid Reign after a quarter of a century away from the stage, who were as much fun that night as they were in 1990.
The reason I didn’t include Deathcrusher on the list is thanks to this headline set from Florida’s finest. I had reservations about it being upgraded to the much bigger Ballroom from the comparatively tiny Underworld. By the start of their set any misgivings were put aside as the place was pretty much full. They were on top form that night, plus there was the added bonus of seeing German thrashers Dust Bolt on the same night.
Another disappointing turn out in Nuneaton, but that didn’t deter the legendary Arizona thrashers. Tonight was a complete master class of thrash metal. Such a tight performance and compared to when I saw them last year the live vocals were much better.
Metallica are my favourite band and can really do no wrong in my book (well maybe LuLu!), but they couldn’t make my top three this year. This tour didn’t have to may surprises in the set list, but I got to see Frayed Ends of Sanity performed live and I had tickets for the Golden Circle so we managed to get pretty close and ended up with a few off stage souvenirs.
Again, I could have picked either date of the tour that I saw, but with the added size of the stage in Brixton you got more bang for your buck. Two bands who are most definitely getting better with age. Slayer were just Slayer, no banter, no jokes, no roller coasters, no prolonged solos – just pure, unadulterated, evil, thrash metal (and dancing inverted crosses!) What more could you want?
Finally the missing piece for me from the German Teutonic Big Four. If Tankard won’t come to me then I’d better go to them! After Kreator these Frankfurt beer swilling maniacs are my next favourite band of the four. Much like Anthrax or Acid Reign, they are often classed as the clowns of the bunch. That night in January they were on top form. The track (Empty) Tankard was superb sing-a-long, and seeing Gerre singing from on top of the bar right in front of me is something I won’t forget in a hurry. They were so much fun to watch.
So my favourite gig of the year happened to be the last gig I attended. Nightwish owned the cavernous Wembley Arena that evening. We were promised the full European stage show and that’s what they delivered. Metal fans have a weird preoccupation with fire in all forms and we had it all tonight! We also had smoke, ticker tape and giant video screens. The visuals were well and truly backed up with some stunning songs performed to perfection by Floor Jansen who breathed life into tracks from the departed vocalists before her. Fantastic sound too in a place so enormous, and it only cost £25. A real bargain. A truly superb evening.