Wacken Open Air 2008 - Wacken, Germany, 31st July 2008

Event: Wacken Open Air 2008
Written by: Baz Anderson, Promonex, GT
Published: 10.10.2008

Galleries:

Wacken Open Air 2008 - Wacken, Germany by GT (9)
Wacken Open Air 2008 - Wacken, Germany, 30 July - 02 August 2008 by Promonex (104)
Wacken Open Air - Wacken, Germany, 31st July-2nd August 2008 by Baz Anderson (135)


Barry: The heavy metal festival of the year was once again upon us. Which self-respecting metaller has never heard of Wacken? That's right, this is the metal Mecca and this year it was bigger than ever before with enlarged and improved festival grounds to accommodate for 70,000 metal heads from literally everywhere around the world. Situated in the small northern Germany village of Wacken, the villagers have had this annual metal meeting on their doorsteps for almost twenty years, and for such loud and extreme people as the metal masses are, the villagers will tell you how much of a pleasure it is to have the festival as the whole of Wacken turns into the heavy metal capitol of the world, embracing the atmosphere and excitement of the festival. The Wacken Open Air is more than a list of metal bands on a running order, to be part of the Wacken experience is something unique to metal festivals, Wacken is the atmosphere, it is the friendliness of anyone you could bump into and speak to, it is an annual meeting of friends and to be part of it all is something special as you stand among tens of thousands of other people watching your favourite bands.

The Wednesday kicked off the festivities for the more eager ones who had fought the traffic-jams and were already there for the opening ceremonies.

W:O:A Firefighters
Sweet Savage
Mambo Kurt


W:O:A Firefighters
Promonex: As every year the festival was opened by the brass band of the village's firefighters. And as every year it was impossible to catch a glimpse of this bunch of elderly guys unless you were standing right in front of the beergarden stage or unless you could secure a spot on one of the many tables. But it didn't matter what they looked like and it didn't even matter what they played, the visitors of the festival were just having a blast, a few beers, a moshpit and a wall of death to kick off four days of fun while listening to some good ol' German oompah music.


Sweet Savage
Promonex: The first "real" act of the festival was Sweet Savage who had the thankless task of playing the day which traditionally is meant just for partying and thus they got a slot between the W:O:A Firefighters and Mambo Kurt. Nonetheless they weren't too shabby at entertaining the audience with their NWOBHM-inspired hard rock and they whetted the appetite for the big headliner of the following night, Iron Maiden.



Band Gallery:
Promonex: Sweet Savage gallery


Mambo Kurt
Promonex: But for tonight there was only one headliner everyone was waiting for: Mambo Kurt. Known for his interesting interpretations of rock and metal classics on his Hammond organ there's probably no other single musician so tightly associated with the Wacken Open Air as him. And so he once again presented his bizarre takes on Slayer's "Raining Blood", Guns n' Roses' "Paradise City" - dedicated to the village of Wacken - and of course a song by Scooter, "the band we Germans are more proud of than of any other", to an overly enthusiastic crowd. Mambo Kurt is an integral part of Wacken - if you have been there without witnessing one of his crazy performances, you haven't really been there after all.



Band Gallery:
Promonex: Mambo Kurt gallery

-



Barry: Thursday was the first main day of the festival and anticipation was high for the reason the festival tickets sold out half a year before it was due to start. All the eager Iron Maiden beavers had to wait for the main event though, some even sat in front of the True Metal Stage the whole day just for a front row place.

Girlschool
Lauren Harris
Achyronthia
VooDoo KungFu
Concept Insomnia
Negură Bunget
Leaves' Eyes
Avenged Sevenfold
Iron Maiden


Girlschool
Barry: Girlschool were the ones to kick off the proceedings in good old-fashioned new wave of British heavy metal style. These girls may not be as young as they used to be but they sure as hell still know how to rock. Their version of "Race With The Devil" brought things alive in the arena and helped build the momentum of which they went out on top of.



Band Gallery:
Barry: Girlschool gallery


Lauren Harris
Barry: Lauren Harris and her band next bounced onto the stage to an overly generous audience, because this was an audience that frankly couldn't care less whose daughter she is because her music seemed more fitting for the pop charts than this metal festival. Still, she amused the masses for her time slot and then bounced back to wherever she came from.



Band Gallery:
Barry: Lauren Harris gallery


Achyronthia
Promonex: In the meanwhile the first part of the "Metal Battle" contest was taking place on the W.E.T. stage (Wacken Evolution Tent), which is situated inside a large tent-like structure, a place that most of the underground bands would play throughout the festival. The Belgian entry Achyronthia had an interesting name, but delivered nothing special at all. Bland melodic death metal which in terms of lacking creativity was only surpassed by what was going on on the main stage at the same time.



Band Gallery:
Promonex: Achyronthia gallery


VooDoo KungFu
Promonex: "VooDoo KungFu - which band in its right mind would choose such a stupid name??", you might ask. Well, let me tell you, the Chinese contestant was quite far away from sanity. The guitarist puking blood all over the speakers, the vocalist alternating between Chinese chants, post-hardcorish outbursts of brutality, alternative metal madness and all this backed up by a traditional Mongolian "horse-head fiddle" while wearing exotic clothes made for one of the most interesting performances of the whole festival, both musically and visually.



Band Gallery:
Promonex: VooDoo KungFu gallery


Concept Insomnia
Promonex: Being the only unsigned (non-Metal Battle) band on the whole festival and being from my area I had quite high hopes for Concept Insomnia. The quintet sounded a lot like Mercenary, with the frontman's clean vocals and the guitarist's and bassist's synchronous grunts being the high points of their music. The songwriting sounded like a mixture of prog-laden heavy metal and Gothenburg-style melodeath metal which in theory sounds more interesting than it actual was. Add the low publicity of these guys and you have a very enthusiastic band playing to a rather bored crowd.



Band Galleries:
Promonex: Concept Insomnia gallery
Barry: Concept Insomnia gallery


Negură Bunget
Barry: Negură Bunget were about to finally grab the day and make something of it. The Bunget put on an enthusiastic performance of their slightly progressive and strange black metal to an enthusiastic crowd that had gathered, probably thinking they'd be the only ones there. Long and epic songs and a wood-bashing solo later and it was the end that left the audience wanting more. Only the most enthusiastic fans will take away glorious memories, for the rest of us it was just forty minutes of something "quite interesting".

Promonex: And as such an enthusiastic fan I can tell you that this performance was far from glorious! Negură Bunget is a band which relies heavily on atmosphere and neither the high temperature nor the broad daylight added positively to this. The sound was terrible and in between songs you could hear Airbourne performing on the main stage. And if this all wasn't bad enough already, the crowd ruined it all with its "hey hey" cheers, drowning out the band during the hypnotic tremolo-picked outro of their closer "Tesarul De Lumini". Negură is a band you need to witness in a intimate location - the world's biggest metal festival did not prove to be such one.



Band Galleries:
Barry: Negură Bunget gallery
Promonex: Negură Bunget gallery


Leaves' Eyes
GT: The sun was slowly setting as Leaves' Eyes began their set on the Party Stage. The German/Norwegian band had pulled out the big guns for us as they had brought along their big wooden Viking ship and their biggest light and FX gear including some great pyrotechnics. Unfortunately the setting sun prevented us from getting the full effect of all this. What we could enjoy to the full extent was the amazing voice of Liv Kristine and the nice growls of Alexander Krull. The sound wasn't perfect though. The guitars were drowned a bit by stand-in drummer Alex Holzwarth's thundering double bass. Luckily this was fixed after a while. The setlist contained, for me, numerous unknown songs but also quite a few familiars incl. LE classics such as New Found Land and Elegy. In addition to the show on stage there was also an attempt to get a "Happy birthday"-song going since it was Mr. Krull's birthday, but it never gathered enough support to really matter. All in all an enjoyable and beautiful set.



Band Gallery:
GT: Leaves' Eyes gallery


Avenged Sevenfold
Barry: Avenged Sevenfold slithered their way onto the Black Stage to a half-hearted audience who were more bothered at this point in finding a good place for Iron Maiden. Still, the band greased their way through a set of their popular hits including that annoying up-beat one and that other one that people actually started to call "power metal". Frontman hidden behind his shades at all time, not many people could care less, all we wanted was Iron Maiden.


Band Galleries:
Barry: Avenged Sevenfold gallery
Promonex: Avenged Sevenfold gallery



Iron Maiden
Barry: Iron Maiden is exactly what we got, and wow. Just wow. They were selling shirts that had Iron Maiden on the back saying 31/07/08 - Iron Maiden at Wacken, a night to remember, and it certainly was that. No more did we have the fear of the idea of a full "Matter Of Life And Death" set, we knew this would be a set comprised of the best Iron Maiden material, the 1980 to 1988 material, and they literally could not have put on a better show if they had even tried. Iron Maiden are one of those timeless bands that will live forever, as many popular, well-known songs as the combined age of all the members together. You know the magic songs, you know which ones you want to hear, they played every one of these songs and then some including the more obscure "Heaven Can Wait" and "Revelations". There are so many bands out there today that have been going since the eighties and even the seventies, but none of them have the popularity of Iron Maiden. Contrary to my previous belief, this popularity is duly deserved as no band puts on a show like Iron Maiden can. Bruce Dickinson isn't the spring chicken he used to be, but him and the others still have fire up their backsides and move around a lot, putting so much energy into their songs. Bruce in particular as his singing never once loses intensity or enthusiasm. Listening back to old recordings of live songs with Bruce, he has actually vastly improved over the years, not the opposite at all. Adding to the experience, you are standing in the middle of the biggest audience of the festival - this live show is coming out of every possible speaker in the festival ground, 70,000 people around you fixated on this one stage and it doesn't matter one bit which part of the world they have travelled from, Germany, England, Argentina, Antarctica, the Moon, wherever, the language barrier means nothing because everyone at Wacken was united by the language of heavy metal - and that is the magic of the Wacken festival.



Promonex: "Scream for me, Wacken!" And that's just what we did. But not only out of joy over the awe-inspiring performance of these old men, but also over the poor organization on behalf of the festival for this particular gig which proved to be the biggest in Wacken's history. 70,000 people paid to see Iron Maiden, but many weren't allowed to enter the festival grounds as they were filled to the brim already. Those who did get in and even made it up to the very front had other problems: the complete absence of crowd control barriers resulted in thousands of people pushing from the left, the right and from behind, so that in the first few rows people were falling over each other all the time, making it absolutely impossible to stand upright for more than 20 seconds. After missing the first three songs despite of "standing" in the fourth row as I was too busy with surviving I myself had to back out of the hullabaloo in order to actually follow the concert. Not having made any dispositions in this regard was absolutely careless by the organizers. Just imagine what would have happened if some people had fainted or even if panic had broken loose! We all still know what happened in Roskilde back in 2000 - even with crowd barriers...



Band Galleries:
Barry: Iron Maiden gallery
Promonex: Iron Maiden gallery

Thursday, 31/07/08 / Friday, 01/08/08 / Saturday, 02/08/08



 




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Abattoir - 11.10.2008 at 12:49  
Iron Maiden shows in open air festivals always kick ass and are definitely memorable...nice review guys.
corrupt - 11.10.2008 at 14:45  
Don't get them started. Not having crowd barriers in Wacken is a GOOD thing. I wasn't so far away from the stage either and went quite smoothly crowdwise. If a panic broke loose in Wacken they would just open all emergency exits to the sides of the festival ground and people could spread out in every point of the compass. Regulations in that manner are among the strictest worldwide in Germany. So you can count on it that they thought of possible means to resolve a panic.

Iron Maiden were quite disappointing for me. I'm no big time fan so I can't judge the setlist but the whole concert was very static and uninspired. Plus Dickinson's bad ass "I don't play as long as this camera is in my way" attitude. Mediocre at best. But your experience may differ
Promonex - 12.10.2008 at 20:31  
Written by corrupt on 11.10.2008 at 14:45

Don't get them started. Not having crowd barriers in Wacken is a GOOD thing. I wasn't so far away from the stage either and went quite smoothly crowdwise. If a panic broke loose in Wacken they would just open all emergency exits to the sides of the festival ground and people could spread out in every point of the compass. Regulations in that manner are among the strictest worldwide in Germany. So you can count on it that they thought of possible means to resolve a panic.

I've been there, I know what it's like to have five or six people falling and lying on top of you, knowing that things could get really ugly if people wouldn't help us up damn fast. Dude, that was fucking WAR at the front and I wouldn't have been surprised if something serious had happened. Even the festival's own newspaper has criticized the organization for this particular gig! I'm not saying they should get barriers for all gigs, they've never needed them before, but as the organizers said themselves, Iron Maiden are actually too big for Wacken. The main stage wasn't used all day until Maiden's gig, they could have closed off the area in front of the stage and could have made whichever preparations would have been necessary to avoid what was going on during the gig. And after the festival area got closed, they could have removed the barriers again for the coming two days. I'm all for a barrier-free Wacken, but if they ever decide to get such a big act again, then they better meet some preparations to solve the problems they had with the Maiden gig.

And btw, just opening the emergency exits won't solve a panic. People in panic aren't really known for leaving an area in a smooth and civilized manner.
corrupt - 12.10.2008 at 23:29  
Written by Promonex on 12.10.2008 at 20:31

I've been there, I know what it's like to have five or six people falling and lying on top of you, knowing that things could get really ugly if people wouldn't help us up damn fast. Dude, that was fucking WAR at the front and I wouldn't have been surprised if something serious had happened. Even the festival's own newspaper has criticized the organization for this particular gig! I'm not saying they should get barriers for all gigs, they've never needed them before, but as the organizers said themselves, Iron Maiden are actually too big for Wacken. The main stage wasn't used all day until Maiden's gig, they could have closed off the area in front of the stage and could have made whichever preparations would have been necessary to avoid what was going on during the gig. And after the festival area got closed, they could have removed the barriers again for the coming two days. I'm all for a barrier-free Wacken, but if they ever decide to get such a big act again, then they better meet some preparations to solve the problems they had with the Maiden gig.

Hm. Seen in that light I do agree with you. But I fear that once they set up barriers, they'll leave them up until the whole thing is over. Usually when I go to a concert or festival it's because I really want to enjoy good music live. When people around me think it's more fun to jump around and hit each other I usually move to another spot. But I have painful memories to a few big concerts (e.g Nightwish a few years ago) where only the first 1000 people were let between barrier and stage and had so much space there, you could build houses there while we in the back were breathing each other's hair for the whole time. That's why I react allergic to those things.
Bad English - 19.10.2008 at 21:00  
Barry - ''These girls may not be as young as they used to be but'' but thay still looks hot n sexy

Lauren Harris - She is there because she looks great and sexy

Besides those 2 bands there was only Negură Bunget and Iron maiden what I wanna see ok loom to Liv Cristin why not but muscal Im not her fan

Prom : who sad Bruce is old he isnt

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