Haggard, z7 Switzerland, 22.09.2008
|Event:||Haggard: Tales Of Ithiria Tour 2008|
Riddick Jones by Bas (36)
Haggard by Bas (58)
A few months ago while I was aimlessly roaming through the world of the internet my eyes suddenly caught sight of something which made my heart jump higher and it wasn't a pair of boobs, no matter how much I like them, this particular discovery made me even happier. Haggard was coming to Switzerland once more. For a long time I considered the German masters of symphonic metal my overall top favourite band, it's been a while since then, but Haggard is still one of my absolute tops and in my eyes one of the most brilliant bands I've ever heard. Despite my devote fanboyism I had never seen the group live yet. The last three times they visited Switzerland I wasn't able to attend their concert out of some reason or another so I knew that this time it wasn't about wanting to see them, I had to see them.
A few days before the concert my pleasant anticipation would get even greater though, whilst visiting the homepage of the z7 where the concert took place, I saw that the opening act for Haggard should de none other than DeepTrip, who are one of the most interesting bands in the whole country. They have already toured Germany supporting as prestigious acts as Subway To Sally and Schandmaul, it was while supporting the latter, also in the z7, when I heard DeepTrip for the first time, by now I've seen them four times already. However since the last of those four times is quite a while ago (and the other times even longer obviously) I was really happy to be see them live again on the same evening as Haggard.
With high spirits a friend and I arrived at the z7, early of course, excited as we were about these two awesome bands. There we met a few others and had the chance to listen to Haggards' warm-up, which sounded awesome enough to excite us even more. Finally the doors were thrown open and we were able to secure a position almost in the middle of the first row.
Ladies & Gentlemanů Riddick Jones! Ever heard of these guys? I didn't think so. But let's be frank, no one has ever heard of Riddick Jones before and no one knew their name after the concert either for that matter. That aside no one knew why they were playing here either. According to z7 homepage DeepTrip should have opened this night, yet this other band was here instead.
First things first though, before anything started at all we had to wait for at least half an hour more than we were supposed to, probably because Riddick Jones were an absolute last-minute solution. They did sound like it in any case. Some kind of modern rock mixed with alternative and punk elements and German lyrics. Their whole sound was mainly guitar-driven backed up by some excellent bass lines. Drumming always usually stayed in the midtempo region and the vocals were plainly horrible. The singer varied between three singing types, completely unemotional clean voice, uninspired screams and some very bad half-rap vocals. Well what can I say? I don't mind rap singing, actually I really enjoy it sometimes, but this guys' version of it was an insult to my hearing. Same thing for his atrocious clean singing, which was close to the worst I've ever heard. His screams were ok, they weren't exactly top-notch but hey, at least you don't need to have a pretty voice for screaming into the microphone.
What managed to save the band a little bit was the fact that their bassist was extremely good, he looked like he had quite some experience as well, but it was still far from being enough to make Riddick Jones a halfway enjoyable live experience. Quite a few heads were nodding up and down a bit but I didn't spot a single headbanger in the whole z7. Not that I had an excellent view of the whole hall from my position, but in any case there was no one doing so near the front, and the front rows are a headbangers natural habitation after all. The peak proof of the crowds' enthusiasm however, was the bands' multiple urges that we should jump up and down with them. A quick scan behind me left me assured that not a single soul followed their invitation.
As you might imagine I was quite annoyed at this point, first the long waiting time and then instead of seeing one of my favourite Swiss bands I had to do with this fourth-rate punk rock group. Luckily though, their set only lasted for about half an hour again, then they left the stage under weak applause.
I doubt that Haggard still needs a lot of introduction, but I'll give you a bit anyway. In my eyes they are the absolute quintessence of symphonic metal. Here the fury and heaviness of death metal goes hand-in-hand with the pure beauty of bombastic classical music. Background riffing, thundering drums and death grunts meet with cellos, violins, sopranos, piano parts and many more. They just released their fourth album, titled Tales Of Ithiria, which is in my opinion a lot less good than their two previous efforts Awakening The Centuries and especially their masterpiece Eppur Si Muove. However the songs from this CD turned out to be real blasts on the stage.
Before the band started we had another long waiting time though. This waiting was made even worse by the fact that we were given the feeling the show was about to begin not only once, but multiple times. It's really annoying when you're waiting for a band to start and then the music from the stereo stops and smoke arises on the stage; a few musicians enter the stage and then go off of it again. Eventually the waiting was over though; the intro of "Tales Of Ithiria" started playing and all the musicians entered the stage and a couple of them took place behind their music stands. A total of 14 musicians were gathered on the stage.
Ripples of cheers went through the crowd when the title track of Haggards' newest output started. It was a Monday evening and the majority of the attending crowd probably had to go to school or to work on the following day, but you could feel the enthusiasm hanging in the air when the band continued with their energetic "Per Aspera Ad Astra". The lethargy present during the supporting bands' set had vanished completely and the hall was also quite full by now. Instead of a few bored metalheads there was now a legion of headbangers in front of the stage.
Initially I was afraid that Haggard would play their entire new CD, which is, in my eyes, quite good, but still by far inferior to "Eppur Si Muove" or "Awakening The Centuries". Luckily my fear was quite uncalled for as the band played an excellently balanced set, throwing in songs from all four of their albums, even two songs from "And Thou Shalt Trust The Seer", from which I expected only "In A Pale Moons' Shadow". Amongst the other songs they also gave us the old Swedish piece "Herr Mannelig", I would have preferred their new cover "Hijo De La Luna", however I had the feeling that live "Herr Mannelig" was a lot heavier than on CD so my complaints about that were shattered pretty quickly as well.
The bands' interaction with the crowd was also superb. Asis (the vocalist and mastermind of the band) made a lot of jokes during the concert and also gave us a few remarks of how he was glad to be able to kick off with their European tour in a venue like the z7 and with such a crowd. There was also a sing-along part during "The Final Victory" which soprano Su did with us, that and many of their other choruses were responsible for me not having any voice at all the next days and still being a bit hoarse even four days afterwards! After they had left the stage we all knew there'd be an encore, as they left all of their instruments on their stage, however I think few people had expected they'd play "In A Pale Moons' Shadow" and "Awakening The Centuries", both well over nine minutes on CD, as an encore, meaning that they were playing for us for another 20 minutes!
Haggards' concert, which lasted almost two and a half hours, was one of the better shows I've seen till now. After having wanted to see them since such a long time I most certainly wasn't disappointed, live they managed to perfectly convey and even beat the energy from their studio material, played an excellent selection of songs and on top of that also managed to entertain us. The only song I missed was "Of A Might Divine", yet I won't complain as they did play my other three favourite songs by them (these being the title tracks of the two previous album and "The Day As Heaven Wept"). This was an awesome concert by an awesome band, definitely recommended.
Setlist: Intro, Tales Of Ithiria, Per Aspera Ad Astra, In A Fullmoon Procession, The Observer, The Day As Heaven Wept, The Sleeping Child, Herr Mannelig, La Terra Santa, Heavenly Damnation/The Final Victory, Upon Fallen Autumn Leaves, Prophecy Fulfilled, Epure Si Muove, Encore: In A Pale Moons' Shadow, Awakening The Centuries.
Thanks a lot to the z7 for the accreditation!
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