Helloween, Gamma Ray, Axxis - London, England, 8th January 2008

Event: Helloween + Gamma Ray: Hellish Rock Tour
Written by: Baz Anderson
Published: 10.01.2008


Helloween, Gamma Ray, Axxis - London, England, 8th January 2008 by Baz Anderson (54)
Power metal may not exactly be the most popular genre of metal in the U.K., but on these special occasions when two gods of the genre decide to team up and come over to our island we make sure they know just how much we have missed them. Last time Helloween set foot on British soil was early 2006 as part of the "Keeper Of The Seven Keys - The Legacy" world tour, and Gamma Ray's last voyage to these foreign lands was all the way back in 2004 at the Bloodstock indoor festival. The anticipation was therefore extremely high for these two power metal giants for the one and only U.K. date of the Hellish Rock world tour.


A change of venue lead the tour to the classy Shepherds Bush Empire venue in London, a venue with a large stage and a very posh interior with balconies all around in front of the stage. As the doors opened much earlier than expected the venue soon began to fill up, both downstairs standing and the upstairs seated balconies, and before we knew what was going on Axxis kicked the night off in great power metal fashion. It was a long long time ago the last time these guys were in the U.K. but maybe they will consider returning a bit sooner after this reception. Axxis were the first band of the night and really set things alight with songs such as "Doom Of Destiny (Arabia)", "Tales Of Glory Island", "Take My Hand" and "Angel Of Death" as well as a couple of older rockers from the band's catalogue. Axxis bring to the table standard power metal with a lot of good rocking vibes, they also bring female vocals into the equation which is a slight deviation from the typically staple power metal band with just one male singer but on the whole Axxis break no barriers in what they do. This does not mean to say that they do not put on a good show by any means, frontman Bernhard Weiß told us they were there to warm up our voices and so a few "singing with Bernhard" lessons and half an hour later the audience were more than ready for the mighty Gamma Ray.


With a magnificent huge backdrop of the new "Land Of The Free II" album and colour all over the stage the sudden feeling of anticipation of something very, very good sweeps the audience as Gamma Ray are about to take to the stage. With the opening introduction track from the very first album playing through the speakers we get stuck into the meat of the show with the ultimately catchy "Gardens Of The Sinner" leading into the super groovy, stomper that is "New World Order". Getting on for four years since the band last performed in England, Kai and the gang seemed almost surprised by the overly-enthusiastic audience singing along to every word of every song as if the messiah were on stage. Considered by many as the father of the power metal genre, Kai Hansen lead the gang through a set consisting of songs from every album since the original "Land Of The Free" album and appeared to love every minute of it. Plenty of interaction with the band made sure the audience did not lose interest at any point of the set. "From The Ashes" and "Empress" from the new album found their way into the setlist and received a very warm welcome. Kai Hansen sounded perfect live, guitar playing as well as singing, the whole band performed superbly with the super memorable hooks and a large bass guitar sound from Dirk with his rhythmic-style of bass playing underlying the main groove of the music as well as Dan Zimmerman behind the drums playing at ridiculously high speeds during songs such as "Fight" and "From The Ashes".

Gamma Ray

The long "Rebellion In Dreamland" followed by super-sing along "Heavy Metal Universe" brings Kai into his element. Kai Hansen is one of the greatest frontmen a band can have, full of energy and attitude and always getting the audience to participate while keeping an infectious smile all the time. Commanding everyone sat down on the balconies to stand up for heavy metal and getting the whole room to sing "Heavy Metal Universe" was truly the sing-along of the night. A bit of nostalgia with "Ride The Sky" which sounds impressive live, away from the crusty production on the original Helloween recording, and quite possibly the highlight of the night with the spacey "Somewhere Out In Space" included with a bit of improvisation and deviation from the album version. Happy sing-along "Send Me A Sign" finishes an hour-long set of pure power metal perfection that actually seems like a jibe towards Helloween to come saying "come on and beat that then". Indeed Gamma Ray commanded the stage and put down the challenge to Helloween who were last of the night.

Gamma Ray

As the Gamma Ray drum kit is removed and the full size of the stage is revealed and the Helloween props and stage is set up it would appear that these German masters of power metal have not held back when it comes to putting on a visually superb show, included with spinning roulette wheel behind the enormous drum kit and large model of the chubby character from the front cover of the new, "Gambling With The Devil" album.


Pulling no punches, as soon as the band take to the stage with Cheshire cat sized smiles they plunge straight into quarter of an hour epic "Halloween" that is met by an eruption of a response once it has finished. Two songs that haven't seen the light of day in the live setlist for a good number of years follow, with "Sole Survivor" and true power metal diamond "March Of Time" keeping the momentum going. This is soon put to a halt with new song "As Long As I Fall" which is a pleasant addition to the set, but generally lacks as a live song, as does "A Tale That Wasn't Right" that always manages to make its way to the live set, despite being one of the least interesting Helloween songs in the band's catalogue. Helloween then do what Helloween do best, put on some form of amusing heavy metal theatrical show, which on this tour takes the form of Sascha, Andi and Markus posing as midgets playing Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water" sang with high pitched vocals, ending with Weikie shooting them dead with a toy gun. Funny if you are in a good mood, but otherwise it is easy to take the cynical side and say they should have fit some extra songs in the set instead. The same can be said for Dani's drum solo with audience interaction, which lasts probably ten minutes. "The King For A 1000 Years" follows and things are taken to a whole new level when true classic "Eagle Fly Free" hits the speakers which automatically brings out the singer in every audience member.


An original addition to the set is the medley featuring parts of songs from over the years such as "I Can", "Where The Rain Grows", "If I Could Fly", "Perfect Gentleman", "Power" and "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" as well as the usual formal introduction of each band member. Helloween put on a very good show but the memories of the Gamma Ray set were still lingering, and with this in mind Helloween seemed to lack something. The songs were not as fast or catchy, and were not put across to the audience with the same charisma that Kai Hansen brings to Gamma Ray. During songs such as "A Tale That Wasn't Right" and new "The Hells Of The 7 Bells" time just seemed to pass without any huge excitement at all. This was by no means a bad show though, it has a couple of mild moments but has many many more high moments with songs such as "Eagle Fly Free" and "Dr. Stein"


An encore later and the 'weenies return with the 'rays for an all-out power metal party with arguably the two best bands of the genre in the world. Both Helloween and Gamma Ray hustling and bustling on the stage perform "Future World" and "I Want Out". Andi and Kai taking turns singing parts of the songs as well as the full audience enraptured in these moments of history when Helloween and Gamma Ray finally got together and toured after all these years. This is the climax of the show, both bands on the stage feeding off each other and clearly enjoying doing this even after doing it for presumably every night on the world tour so far. The audience loved to see these two bands together, and this feeds the bands in helping make a very special, memorable memory for everyone in attendance. Indeed this was a special night of all epic power metal proportions, both headlining bands putting on a spectacular show but the memories of Gamma Ray will be much more potent than the ones of Helloween. A highly cynical individual may look at it as proof that the top power metal possible travels with Kai Hansen and that Helloween have never been quite as good since his departure all them years ago, but any sane person can tell that Helloween are going just as strong as they always have done, and both bands delivered the goods on the night which should turn out to be a night to remember for a long long time.

Helloween & Gamma Ray

Written, and photos by Barry Anderson


Written on 10.01.2008 by
Baz Anderson
Member of Staff since 2006.
More articles by Baz Anderson ››


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selken - 10.01.2008 at 01:44  
Baz I envy you to death
However my weak body wouldn't be able to deal by seeing Kai and Michael in the same stage, performing the same song, I would die from a heart attack before listening the first note.
Great review
Stalker - 10.01.2008 at 01:47  
Heheh, saw that, 'bout month ago, it was a thing to remember, thats for sure
Graveshift - 10.01.2008 at 01:53  
It was an amazing show, and the early opening of the doors was a pleasant surprise. The show finished in such a splendid fashion with both Gamma Ray and Helloween playing together, truly brilliant and well worth the travelling it took to get there!!!!
Bararey - 10.01.2008 at 02:00  
OK first of all it was the venue's fault for not informing the audience that the time of the concert was changed! Yes they did post that the doors will open at six but nothing that mentions that the show will start at 6:30 not 7:00!

I was very glad to hear Empress in the setlist (from the ones I got online it was not included) and it is my favorite song from their latest album
Plus, my highlight of Gamma Ray's show when Kai asked the audience on the balconies to stand and get involved, and they all did, that was awesome.

Come one the drum solo and that midget show was entertaining for the audience, and gives the Helloween guys a break ( 5 minutes used to work 10 years ago )

By the way, those pictures that you got were really great, mine had a lot of, well umm people included,, I will crop them out
White Winter Sun - 10.01.2008 at 02:06  
Great concert review and really interesting. Nothing missing, good description, good pictures and setlist, everything is there

Finally you had your birthday present this evening there with fucking great gods of Power on the same stage.
Raiden - 10.01.2008 at 02:42  
Sounded like a good night. It's a shame that Helloween won't have Gamma Ray accompanying them on their Australian tour. Well written review anyhow Barry.
Hyvaarin - 10.01.2008 at 05:52  
Sweet review, sweet pics. Now I'm REALLY excited about Helloween's Aus tour .
GT - 10.01.2008 at 15:09  
Now that's the kind of birthday party I would like to have A good review as always Baz and some excellent pictures.
Spyroid - 10.01.2008 at 16:56  
Haha, a bit fun, because when I saw them in Sweden about 5 weeks ago Helloween really kicked Gamma Ray's ass, it was the third time I saw both band but Helloween was just so great that evening, I loved the setlist!
Good review nonetheless!
wrathchild - 12.01.2008 at 12:14  
Just read it quickly and well, I'm afraid my review of the show in Paris will not be as enjoyable as yours
There are some minor changes between what you described and what I attended (for instance, we didn't have the chubby character on the cover of Gambling With The Devil) though the rest is very close.

Just that I'll make sure to do something for Axxis, as it was, to me, the best band of the night
Bararey - 12.01.2008 at 15:38  
Here are some (the best really) of the pics I took that night, most of my pictures were grainy, what is the brand/model of the camera that you used?

photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, photo 5, photo 6, photo 7, photo 8, photo 9, photo 10, photo 11, photo 12

So what do you think?
Baz Anderson - 12.01.2008 at 16:57  
Thanks everyone! this show was one of the best I have ever been to (if not the best) and for it to be on my birthday as well was just great. I am glad I got such good pictures as well to remember the show with.

Bararey: I always find it interesting to look at other people's pictures from shows I went to.. as you probably found out, focusing is always the hardest part I find. haha
I got a couple of pictures with Michael with the gun in his hand. hahaha.. I still have a ton of pictures I didn't use in this review
okt31 - 12.01.2008 at 23:55  
Wow!! Nice
Axxis weren't there in Budapest and I thought that it's quite a loss. And damn, I was right..
On to the other 2 bands: GR didn't play Gardens of the Sinner for us, but we had Heaven Can Wait. Well, I guess that GotS is a little better but no problem about that. Also we didn't have Empress off the new one (one hell of a tune, maybe the best on LotF II) and we didn't have Somewhere... either.
The Helloween show was identical

Nice concert it was, so cheers!!
RhysTerk - 14.01.2008 at 20:26  
Man, you've got writing talent
Judas - 17.01.2008 at 15:09  
Baz, I've refrained from commenting on this for a while, but even though you've written a really good review of a fucking awesome show, I thought I'd just remind you that I hate you forever and ever.
Baz Anderson - 17.01.2008 at 18:26  
hahaha, I don't know if anyone else could have a better 20th birthday party
quite a lot of nights since the show I have been having dreams about seeing Gamma Ray again. hahaha
Gamma Ray just stole the night in my opinion - I am glad I have this to look back on
OFingers - 18.01.2008 at 18:51  
Wow, i m gonna save 35 euros this sunday!

Gamma Ray songlist is "no comment" and while Helloween's is a great one, i cant stand Deris.

Kiske you are missed...a lot
Baz Anderson - 18.01.2008 at 19:02  
Written by Guest on 18.01.2008 at 18:51

Wow, i m gonna save 35 euros this sunday!

Gamma Ray songlist is "no comment" and while Helloween's is a great one, i cant stand Deris.

Kiske you are missed...a lot

did you even read the review? the show was amazing, a one-off opportunity to see these two bands together. they do actually alter their setlists from show to show you know..
35€ is nothing when it comes to this - I personally paid the equivalent of 116€ for tickets, travel both ways and stay in London, and I don't regret it one bit
Inlé - 19.01.2008 at 19:03  
I'd just like to reaffirm that this was a great concert. The whole drum thing was a bit drawn out and I missed Axxis due to them opening it early, but other than that it was awesome.

No offence OFingers but the Kiske-Deris stuff is so boring... :/, why do some people feel the need to bring this thing up every time Helloween is mentioned?

Anyway. Excellent review of the concert Barry!
Alkisti - 28.01.2008 at 21:11  
I envy you! The place where the concert was held sounds amazing! Nothing to do with the one in Athens... I hope you come visit us one day so we can make fool of greek organisers...!
And your photos were great too! Great review; you are my God!
Why Axxis didn't come to Greece, that's another story...!
Have you read my review? What do you think about that?

P.S. Don't yell at me; it's the first time I write something and people like it! I'm a bit enthousiast, I know! But I can easily get serious... And I know that this is not a date site!
Baz Anderson - 28.01.2008 at 21:27  
Written by Alkisti on 28.01.2008 at 21:11

I envy you! The place where the concert was held sounds amazing! Nothing to do with the one in Athens... I hope you come visit us one day so we can make fool of greek organisers...!
And your photos were great too! Great review; you are my God!
Why Axxis didn't come to Greece, that's another story...!
Have you read my review? What do you think about that?

P.S. Don't yell at me; it's the first time I write something and people like it! I'm a bit enthousiast, I know! But I can easily get serious... And I know that this is not a date site!

haha, the venue is used by some of the top names of pop singers and everything, it is a really posh venue - I wish I didn't forget to take a picture of the big lit-up sign over the door that said "HELLOWEEN"

here are a couple of pictures of the venue - the second one isnt very good.. so just imagine the first one all around in a circle (the first picture is just part of a side)
you can see the balconies though..

Venue 1, Venue 2

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