Nightmare, Freedom Call - Hellfest Festival Tour (French Dates)
|Event:||Hellfest Festival Tour|
If you visit Metal Storm regularly, by now you must have noticed that we often catch several French dates of tours. This article is no different and actually is the review of two of the last dates of the Hellfest Festival Tour. The one in Lyon (November, 17th) was attended by Collin, and the date in Paris (November, 18th) by wrathchild. No pictures were taken because I (Collin, a.k.a. "empty brain") had… camera problems. Ahem. Sorry about that.
Collin: Following closely the release of their - great - new album "Genetic Disorder", one of the, if not the, longest-running French metal bands teamed up with Germany's Freedom Call, America's Hydrogyn and Frogland's Kragens for a short French tour, entitled, for reasons that go way beyond my comprehension, "Hellfest Festival Tour". First, Hellfest Festival is a bit redundant, as the "-fest" bit in Hellfest already means Festival. Second, is Hellfest a new tour manager or something? Because none of these bands has been announced yet in the upcoming Hellfest 2008. Anyway, I fought the cold weather and the loss of my bank card (resulting in no cash for beer or merchandising) and took underground line B and tramway line T1 all the way to the CCO on the other side of town mainly for the two French bands. Not that I didn't give a rat's ass about the other bands (actually I almost didn't, but let's keep an open mind in all circumstances, will we?), but I particularly enjoy Kragens and Nightmare. Both keep releasing great albums (witness "Infight" and "Genetic Disorder", their latest offerings) and definitely need all the support the local crowd can give them.
Anyway, the venue was surprisingly crowded when I arrived. Always a good sign, because it does not happen so often here. Maybe people in Lyon are too spoiled and feel a bit blasé with all the shows that are coming here, but I really savour when there's enough people so you can't catch the conversation of the people at the bar.
wrathchild: At first I decided not to go to this show and save money for others to come, and for many other things money is usually useful in order to complete.
But a friend of mine really wanted to go so he invited me over to the small venue that is "Le Nouveau Casino" and where we already saw Korpiklanni perform a sold out gig a few weeks earlier.
It has to be noted that my friend was mostly interested in seeing Freedom Call, and curious to have a look at the overall body of the singer of Hydrogyn, made famous (at least in France) for the stunning way she poses on the cover artwork of their album "Bombshell". But I told him Nightmare were great and that I was a lot happier that they were headlining this tour instead of Freedom Call, a band I had loved when they opened for Edguy and Angra back in 1999 but also a band that bored me excessively when I saw them as headliners... Much to my surprise, my friend checked Nightmare out and saw it was good, very good.
In the end, our will to go was so great that we braved the cold weather, the lack of public transportation (workers on strike, again), the traffic created by the lack of public transportation. We even got to the venue half an hour before what we had expected, and seeing that there was only one person (a cute though slightly overweight brunette wearing a Freedom Call t-shirt) waiting we decided to eat a bit before queuing. When we got back, about thirty people were waiting. Maybe twenty.
When we were in, it became apparent that the venue wouldn't be filled like it was the last time with Korpiklaani. I'd say it was half empty rather than half filled.
Collin: First off were Kragens. I was particularly looking forward to catching their performance, as somehow I had never seen them before and I really like them. The sound was pretty good and the songs were as great as on album, though their set was met with lukewarm indifference by most of the audience, except the three youngsters in front of me who screamed and headbanged like crazy in the front row for every band. I guess not many people knew them beforehand. That's too bad because it was really a quality set, with a pretty nice setlist equally based on their three releases. They ended their set with the anthemic "Seeds Of Pain", my favourite song, so I was pretty happy. Altogether this was a pretty heavy show, almost brutal for the genre. And the vocals were amazing. My spirits were set high enough so the following two bands would not make me too miserable.
wrathchild: Kragens, a French thrash band, opened the show with a disappointing sound, taking out all the details and complexity that their riffs feature at times, melting everything into a sonic mess. Not surprising as I said somewhere else: most opening bands suffer from that, especially when more than two bands are performing. That has to stop... Anyway, Kragens were the heaviest band that night and they didn't succeed in gathering the crowd in front of them (with the exception of the 2 guitarists of Nightmare), although they did a good show.
Collin: Hydrogyn… I didn't know what to expect from this band. I'm not a fan of their modern yet pretty generic hard-rock on album, and I can't stand the marketing approach of "hey, let's sell more, let's have a picture of the big boobs of our singer for our album cover". I mean, what's the point? I don't see the girl when I play the album and it doesn't have any incidence on the quality of the music. It only contributes to giving me a negative bias. Sorry I'm ranting again.
So, I was really happy this show changed my mind about Hydrogyn. Ok, I still don't see anything particularly good about their music - though the guitarist seemed pretty good and that girl really has a great hard rock voice - and their show was pretty boring, but at least I realized they're probably a "real" band. I mean, I expected the singer to play the bitch and the band to base all their show on this, but actually, no. Not at all. She was dressed in a very normal way, she didn't do "r'n'b" poses, if you see what I mean, and just acted like your regular frontwoman. She caught the attention of people more by means of her voice and her friendliness than thanks to her body. Most people probably don't give a damn about that, but to me it was important. Gives me faith in people, you know? I still didn't like the show though, except the Dio cover at the end (note to wrathchild: "Rainbow In The Dark", the song is "Rainbow In The Dark", you miserable worm) when they invited the two guys of Nightmare onstage with them.
wrathchild: Then came Hydrogyn, with their supposedly hot singer Julie. I was disappointed since she's terribly less sexy than on the cover I wrote about above. But the music was great, sort of modern hard rock, powerful but even if they were not performing a full show, I could feel the songs are too similar to each others. The good surprise was when they invited Yves and Alex from Nightmare on stage. Yves, Nightmare's bass player, wasn't playing the bass but was singing (very well) with Julie as they covered a Dio song (I can't tell you which one, blame me for not knowing my classics). Still the crowd wasn't massively drown to the stage.
Collin: Now on to the most boring moment of the night for me: Freedom Call. I will be short: I cannot stand this band. I loathe happy power metal from the bottom of my heart, with a vengeance. So, instead of spoiling the fun and mindlessly bashing these useless Angra-wannabes from Germany and their run-of-the-mill uninventive all-sound-alike power metal, I'll go - almost - straight to Nightmare. Also because I don't want to revive the painful experience of having to sit without booze through one whole hour of this band. Maybe things would have been slightly more bearable had the sound been heavier. I don't know if it is a usual feature of Freedom Call, but they sounded amazingly devoid of any kind of power, somehow. I'll grant them one thing though. I may not like happy music, but I like seeing happy, smiling musicians onstage, and these guys surely seemed to be having a great time.
Ok, I don't want the fans to hunt me down, so I'll give you their setlist (see under wrathchild's report), take it as apologies for all the hate above.
wrathchild: Things eventually changed when Freedom Call set foot on stage. As I had thought and feared, many people came to see them, not the other bands. But contrary to what I had thought and feared, Freedom Call wasn't boring me this time. I was particularly happy to see that their new bass player is a good one, though it can hardly be guessed when they're performing any songs of the band's repertoire: he performed a slappy solo when Chris had some problems with his gear. Not a great solo, nothing impressive but at least he did something, and too many musicians just don't do anything when one of their mate is having to withdraw for some time because of a technical problem. I appreciated. The show was fine, the setlist was not the worse they could have come up with and I can only lament that I still haven't got to hear them perform my favorite song, "Holy Knight", from their first album.
Setlist in Lyon:
Hunting High And Low
Tears Of Taragon
The Blackened Sun
Queen Of My World
Land Of Light
Collin: The venue was drained of about half the audience right after Freedom Call. A lot of people has obviously come only for them and didn't even bother staying for Nightmare. With the CCO having a curfew set at 11:30pm, it's not like they all had to catch their last train home. People's tastes will never fail to amaze me. They gladly pay 20 euros for one hour of generic music and don't even stay for the talented band. Suddenly, the average age doubled, and I found myself one of the youngest in the room. Nightmare have been around for longer than me, so they attract old people as well as young ones, which is a good thing. Besides, they come from somewhere in the region of Lyon, so it was like they were at home.
They put on a very good show, the best of the night for sure, with Jo "Ronnie James Dio" Amore being as amazing as always, as much on the vocal duties as in his interactions with the crowd. As wrathchild will say further down the page, the atmosphere was friendly and warm like a reunion of people who haven't seen each other for a long time and have plenty of stories to tell. As time passed, I found Nightmare's dark heavy metal strangely mesmerizing. I seem not to have been the only one, as the venue was quite silent but really respectful. You could see on people's faces that they were fully yet quietly enjoying the music of this great band. I was particularly struck by how the extreme vocals of bassist Yves Campion sounded good and fitted well the live songs. I was also pleased to see that the band seemed to really enjoy their time. To quote my fellow staff member Baz Anderson, "it felt very intimate" :-P
Besides all that greatness, the band had planned a great surprise towards the end of the show. Since, as I said, Nightmare come from just around the corner, they invited their first two guitar players, Nicolas De Dominicis and Jean Stripolli, to come up on stage and play "Lord Of The Sky" (taken from the first album) with them. Let me assure you that this already very good song sounded heavy as hell with four guitars. Ok, it was not really tight, but what the hell, it was fun. Great were also "Trust A Crowd", the other very old song, "Mind Matrix Schizophrenia", their personal equivalent of Number Of The Beast, and all the new songs. I want to mention that three new songs should be kept in their setlist forever: "Queen Of Love & Pain", "Conspiracy" and "Winds Of Sin", the song that shows the thin line between NWOBHM and Gothenburg Metal (that's for those who still think it is a death metal subgenre).
After about 75 minutes of an intimate and friendly show, they called all the bands onstage to play "Fear Of The Dark". Everybody started to sing along, and still song a few minutes after all music had stopped. That was really great to behold.There's only one more thing I want to say: bands that respect their audience and the other bands like Nightmare do deserve all the support one can give them. If this raving report brings one or two more people to check them out, I'll consider myself happy.
I have the most profound respect for these guys. Oh, incidentally, they really kick ass live, I was not making that up.
wrathchild: Unfortunately, after Freedom Call had played, the crowd came back to the state it was in when Hydrogyn were playing. That's when Nightmare took the stage and complete a great show, with many songs of their new album entitled "Genetic Disorder" (yet another good one). But even though Nightmare are French and were playing in Paris, the response from the crowd was timid: we don't know many of our own bands, that's a fact, and that tour proved it once again...
But back to the show, with Jo Amore and his bandmates (who've been watching most of the other bands' performances) being quite happy to play aynway.
Of course, the greatest part of the show was the final ending, when they called all the other singers to cover "Fear Of The Dark". Jo and Chris (FC) were singing the lead parts and Julie (Hydrogyn) and Renaud (Kragens) were mostly doing backing vocals (there are plenty in that song, a great moment for some crowd singing). That was only the second time I saw Nightmare and they also ended the first show by covering "Breaking The Law" (that time, with Manigance), so perhaps it's one thing they do all the time. That proves they're really friendly.
And that's the perfect word to describe that night, "friendly". The last date of the Hellfest Festival Tour wasn't very successful but nevertheless it was a cool, relaxed night and I don't regret going to this event. Something still needs an answer though: What does Hellfest has to do with it? I mean, will we see those 4 bands again at Hellfest 2008? It wouldn't be a bad thing.
Setlist in Lyon: (in no real order)
Battleground For Suicide
Queen Of Love & Hate
The Winds Of Sin
Mind Matrix Schizophrenia
Nothing Left Behind
Leader Of The Masquerade
Lord Of The Sky
Encore: Trust A Crowd
Fear Of The Dark
Thanks to Jeep of Nightmare and Julien of K Productions for the press accreditation in Lyon
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