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WACKEN OPEN AIR @ Wacken, Schleswig-Holstein

\r\nWhat can you say about Wacken Open Air? It’s the world’s biggest Metal festival, with the best organization and attracting over 75.000 metalheads yearly. So, like the good metal maniac that I am, I decided to go to the 20th anniversary of the biggest Metal celebration.\r\n

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\r\nDay 1 – 30/7\r\n

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\r\nAfter my arrival at the Holy Wacken Land the day before and a night that included a lot of alcohol, the day that the concerts would begin came. At about 15.30 the doors to the ground that hosted the 4 stages of the festival (True Metal stage, Black Metal stage, Party Stage, Headbangers Ballroom) opened.
\r\nThe first two bands of the day (Skyline, Schandmaul) didn’t interest me, so I decided to explore the place and drink a beer. At 19.15 I headed towards the Black stage, where Der W was playing, so I could catch a good place for Running Wild.\r\n

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\r\nDer W\r\n

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\r\nThe former bassist of the German Hard – Rock group Böhse Onkelz appeared at this year’s Wacken with his personal project.  But, since I didn’t see them from the beginning, neither have I ever listened to the former, or the personal band of Stephan Weidner, I can’t have a real opinion other than they played well. For those interested here’s the setlist:\r\n

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\r\n1.    Der W zwo drei
\r\n2.    Liebesbrief
\r\n3.    Waffen & Neurosen
\r\n4.    Schatten
\r\n5.    Mein Bester Feind
\r\n6.    Angst
\r\n7.    Stille Tage im Klischee
\r\n8.    Und wer hasst dich
\r\n9.    Ein Lied für meinen Sohn
\r\n10.    Heiss
\r\n11.    Tränenmeer
\r\n12.    Asche zu Asche
\r\n13.    Bitte töte mich
\r\n14.    Geschichtenhasser
\r\n15.    Gewinnen kann jeder (Nordend Anistars cover)
\r\n16.    Pass gut auf dich auf\r\n

\r\n

\r\nRunning Wild\r\n

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\r\nThe last 2 hour show of Rolf “Rock ‘n’ Rolf” Kasparek and his gang was the undisputed high light of the first day. At 20.15, after a theatrical intro with actors portraying pirates, that was unfortunately only understandable to those who could speak German (luckily I can), Running Wild set foot on the Black stage to say farewell to the metal world after 33 years since their foundation.  The place was packed and everything showed the sign of a perfect evening. But, unfortunately, the weather didn’t do us the favor and after a couple of songs rained started pouring down. That didn’t stop Running Wild from giving one hell of a live performance, with the setlist consisting of classic and some surprise songs, though and neither the crowd from having a good time. The only complaints we had was that they could have had a little more show apart from the fire effects (a placard and some set design mate, it’s your last show!) and that the bassist Jan S. Eckert made some mistakes while playing the intro to Conquistadores. But who cares? You don’t see lives like these every day. And now to wait for the DVD to watch it one more time!\r\n

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\r\nSet List:
\r\n1.    Intro - Chamber Of Lies
\r\n2.    Port Royal
\r\n3.    Bad To The Bone
\r\n4.    Riding The Storm
\r\n5.    Soulless
\r\n6.    Prisoner Of Our Time
\r\n7.    Black Hand Inn
\r\n8.    Purgatory
\r\n9.    The Battle Of Waterloo
\r\n10.    Drum Solo
\r\n11.    Raging Fire
\r\n12.    The Brotherhood
\r\n13.    Draw The Line
\r\n14.    Whirlwind
\r\n15.    Tortuga Bay
\r\n16.    Branded And Exiled
\r\n17.    Raise Your Fist
\r\nEncore:
\r\n18.    Conquistadores
\r\n19.     Under Jolly Roger\r\n

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\r\nHeaven & Hell\r\n

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\r\nHalf an hour after Running Wild and a couple of beers later we went to the True Metal stage to see Heaven & Hell. At 22.45 Ronnie James Dio, Tonny Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice went up on stage. Here words are useless. Perfect stage presence and song performance combined with nice sets and a video wall. Dio’s performance was better than on the records (I got goose bumps during Children of the Sea) and the rest of the members played the music masterfully (Iommi isnt’ considered one of the best guitarists for nothing). The songs from their new album The Devil You Know sound very well live and stand equal in front of classics like Die Young. In other words just perfect. \r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    E5150
\r\n2.    The Mob Rules
\r\n3.    Children Of The Sea
\r\n4.     I      
\r\n5.    Bible Black
\r\n6.    Time Machine
\r\n7.    Fear
\r\n8.    Falling Off The Edge Of The World
\r\n9.    Follow The Tears
\r\n10.    Die Young
\r\n11.    Heaven And Hell
\r\nEncore:
\r\n12.    Country Girl
\r\n13.    Neon Knights
\r\n
\r\nDay 2 - 31/7
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\r\nNapalm Death\r\n

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\r\nA last minute change of the Running Order saw us heading towards the Party stage barely awake the morning of the second day. 11.00 and Napalm Death it is then. Is there a better way to wake up than the Grindcore the brits, pioneers of the genre, from Birmingham play? The performance was astounding and the shifts between the growls of frontman Mark “Barney” Greenway and the screams of guitarist Mitch Harris combined with the merciless drumming of Danny Herrera and the thick bass sound of bassist Shane Embury offered 40 minutes of neck breaking and continuous circle pits. \r\n

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\r\nUFO  \r\n

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\r\nAt 11.45 the True Metal stage was occupied by veteran Hard – Rockers UFO.  Good song performance but, after Napalm Death’s Grind storm, it was hard to appreciate them more than a moment of relaxation. \r\n

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\r\nEndstille\r\n

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\r\nIt’s 13.00 and we are in front of the Black stage to see the Germans Endstille. In the beginning I had no idea what they were playing but as soon as they went on stage with the characteristic, for the genre, Corpsepaint I understood right away what was expecting us. Solid Black Metal in the veins of bands like Dark Funeral and Marduk, and the big crowd made me see that they were really popular in their own country. Good stage appearance and very good performance.
\r\n 
\r\nGamma Ray\r\n

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\r\nHaving seen Gamma Ray when they came December 2007 together with Helloween, I went to the True Metal stage excited to see Kai Hansesn’s gang again. For a second time I was satisfied with their performance and they showed what good Power Metal is. \r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Welcome
\r\n2.    Heavy Metal Universe / Ride The Sky
\r\n3.    New World Order
\r\n4.    Rebellion in Dreamland
\r\n5.    Man On A Mission
\r\n6.    Into The Storm
\r\n7.    Heaven Can Wait
\r\n8.    To The Metal
\r\n9.    Gorgar / Future World
\r\n10.    I Want Out
\r\n11.    Somewhere Out In Space
\r\nEncore:
\r\n12.    Send me a Sign\r\n

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\r\nWalls Of Jericho\r\n

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\r\nTo be honest I’m not a big Metalcore fan but from pure curiosity I was in front of the Black stage at 15.00 to see Walls Of Jericho.  They proved themselves a nice surprise, since the 1 hour they played went by pretty pleasantly.  Overall good performance, and a very big crowd participation in the circle pits.    \r\n

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\r\nNevermore\r\n

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\r\nAt 16.45 I saw a band that I was longing to see for a long time, since I missed them 2 or 3 times. I’m talking of course about Nevermore, one of the Greek audiences favorites. Words fall also flat here. Great song performance by all of the band members, and with Warrel Dane’s voice stealing the show.  If they also had a second guitar to cover the sound gap that Loomis left while soloing it might have been an almost perfect performance. Hope to see them soon in Greece when the new album comes out.\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    This Sacrament
\r\n2.    The River Dragon Has Come
\r\n3.    Dead Heart, In A Dead World
\r\n4.    Enemies Of Reality
\r\n5.    The Heart Collector
\r\n6.    Narcosynthesis
\r\n7.    This Godless Endeavor
\r\n8.    Inside Four Walls
\r\n9.    I, Voyager
\r\n10.    Born\r\n

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\r\nAirbourne\r\n

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\r\nThe Australian band was one of the names that I was really excited to see at this year’s festival. The band was in a very good mood and so was the crowd. But the bad sound, the bass drum covered almost all of the other instruments, didn’t let me enjoy them as much as I wanted.\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Stand Up For Rock ’n’ Roll
\r\n2.    Hellfire
\r\n3.    Fat City
\r\n4.    Diamond In The Rough
\r\n5.    What’s Eatin’ You
\r\n6.    Girls In Black
\r\n7.    Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women
\r\n8.    Heartbreaker
\r\n9.    Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast
\r\n10.    Blackjack
\r\n11.      Runnin’ Wild
\r\n 
\r\nMotörhead
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\r\nAfter I a quick peek at Whiplash (I only saw a couple of songs) a went to the True Metal stage to watch Motörhead. At 21.45 the GREAT Lemmy enters the stage together with Phil Campbell and Mickey Dee, and after that panic broke out. GODLIKE!!!!\r\n

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\r\nSetlist
\r\n1.    Iron Fist
\r\n2.    Stay Clean
\r\n3.    Be My Baby
\r\n4.    Rock Out
\r\n5.    Metropolis
\r\n6.    Over The Top
\r\n7.    One Night Stand
\r\n8.    The Thousand Names Of God
\r\n9.    Another Perfect Day
\r\n10.    In The Name Of Tragedy
\r\n11.    Just ’Cos You Got The Power
\r\n12.    Going To Brazil
\r\n13.    Killed By Death
\r\nEncore:
\r\n14.    Ace Of Spades
\r\n15.    Overkill\r\n

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\r\nAmon Amarth\r\n

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\r\nAfter a big break, for beers and chlling out, the time was 2.00 and the crowd started moving towards the Black stage for Amon Amarth. Having a Viking ship for setting, a bunch of stuntmen reenacting battles and a very good mood the band went out on stage to close the 2nd day of the festival. Unfortunately at the spot where I was, I couldn’t see well and the sound was rather chunky. But, besides that, Amarth performed their songs very well.\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Twilight of the Thunder God
\r\n2.    Free Will Sacrifice
\r\n3.    Asator
\r\n4.    Guardians of Asgaard
\r\n5.    Varyags of Miklagaard
\r\n6.    Runes To My Memory
\r\n7.    Live for the Kill
\r\n8.    Victorious March
\r\n9.    The Pursuit of Vikings
\r\n10.     Cry of the Black Birds
\r\n11.    Death in Fire\r\n

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\r\nDay 3 - 01/8\r\n

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\r\nRage\r\n

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\r\nThe first band I would watch on the last day was Rage. At 13.00 Peavy Wagner’s band celebrated the 25 years presence in the scene together with Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Schmier (Destruction), Eric  Hecht (Subway To Sally) and Jen Majura (guest vocals Rage – Blind Guardian) as guests. Very good performance, with the guests in a very good mood (especially Hansi and Schmier) and Smolski playing his guitar excellently. \r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Carved In Stone
\r\n2.    Higher Than The Sky
\r\n3.    Set The World On Fire
\r\n4.    All I Want
\r\n5.    Invisible Horizons
\r\n6.    Lord Of The Flies
\r\n7.    From The Cradle To The Grave
\r\n8.    Prayers Of Steel
\r\n9.    Suicide
\r\n10.    Down
\r\n11.    Gib Dich Nie Auf
\r\n12.    Soundchaser\r\n

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\r\nOnkel Tom/Cathedral\r\n

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\r\nOnkel Tom and Cathedral played simultaneously at 14.15. so I decided to check them both out. First was ONkel Tom Angelripper who, together with his band, plays alcohol themed German songs in metal version. Great party, with the crowd and band having a great time. Second on the list were the English band Cathedral but, they didn’t appeal to me much and after their performance I ended up thinking that I should have stayed at Onkel Tom. \r\n

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\r\nTestament\r\n

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\r\nWe were paying attention to the True Metal stage where, at 15.30, Bay Area Thrashers Testament would appear. This band is a good live guarantee, so I’ll only say that they kicked ass! Simple as that.\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    The Preacher
\r\n2.    The New Order
\r\n3.    Over the Wall
\r\n4.    Practice What You Preach
\r\n5.    More Than Meets the Eye
\r\n6.    F.E.A.R.
\r\n7.    Burnt Offerings
\r\n8.     Into the Pit
\r\n9.    Disciples of the Watch
\r\n10.    D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)
\r\n11.    3 Days in Darkness
\r\n12.    The Formation Of Damnation\r\n

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\r\nVolbeat\r\n

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\r\nTalk about a band that changed my mind about it with its performance. I didn’t like the Danish band Volbeat at all, so I kind of went by force to watch them at the True Metal stage. Good thing I did! They gave one hell of a performance and, together with the great crowd participation, turned this one hour in a rock ‘n’ roll party!\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
\r\n2.    Hallelujah Goat
\r\n3.    Radio Girl
\r\n4.    Sad Man’s Tongue
\r\n5.    Mr. & Mrs. Ness
\r\n6.    Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
\r\n7.    The Human Instrument
\r\n8.    Angelfuck (Misfits cover)
\r\n9.    Still Counting
\r\n10.    The Garden’s Tale
\r\n11.    I Only Want To Be With You (Dusty Springfield cover)
\r\n12.    We\r\n

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\r\nMachine Head\r\n

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\r\nThis is another group I was longing for. I have been waiting for 5 years and, in the end, I had to go to a festival in Germany so I could see them. And the patience paid off greatly! Perfect stage presence and perfect song performance. Only Rob Flynn’s vocal would fade out from time to time. But it didn’t matter anyway. That night Machine Head proved that they are one of the biggest metal bands. Period.\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Imperium
\r\n2.    Ten Ton Hammer
\r\n3.    Beautiful Mourning
\r\n4.    None But My Own
\r\n5.    Aesthetics of Hate
\r\n6.    Old
\r\n7.    Bulldozer
\r\n8.    The Burning Red
\r\n9.    Struck A Nerve
\r\n10.    Halo
\r\n11.    Davidian\r\n

\r\n

\r\nSaxon \r\n

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\r\n30 years Saxon – 20 years Wacken. So one of the leading bands of the NWOBHM celebrated these two occasions with a set that was voted by the fans. For about one and a half hours Saxon played songs from all their albums and their performance was brilliant. Like always.\r\n

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\r\nSetlist:
\r\n1.    Battalions Of Steel
\r\n2.    Let Me Feel Your Power
\r\n3.    Lionheart
\r\n4.    Strong Arm Of The Law
\r\n5.    Killing Ground
\r\n6.    Metalhead
\r\n7.    Wheels Of Steel
\r\n8.    Unleash the Beast
\r\n9.    Dogs Of War
\r\n10.    Rock N’ Roll Gypsy
\r\n11.    Rock The Nations
\r\n12.    Motorcycle Man
\r\n13.    Forever Free
\r\n14.    Solid Ball Of Rock
\r\n15.    Crusader
\r\n16.    Power And The Glory
\r\n17.    Princess Of The Night
\r\n18.    Heavy Metal Thunder
\r\nEncore:
\r\n19.    Live To Rock
\r\n20.    747 (Strangers In The Night)
\r\n21.    Stallions Of The Highway
\r\n22.    Denim And Leather \r\n

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\r\nThus ends the third day of the biggest metal festival in the world. I saw the rest of the days bands GWAR, Korpiklaani, Subway To Sally) from the big screens, drinking beer and reminiscing the great times I had at this festival. Till next year! \r\n

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\r\nLive Report: Nikos "Morbid" Sirakis  \r\n

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