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Neckbreakers Ball Tour 2009

Stadt / City Saarbrücken 
Land / Country Deutschland/Germany 
Datum / Date05.11.2009 
Bildergalerie / Picture gallery Neckbreakersball09 
Photos: Cornelia Wickel 

Kindergarten?! - well, this was at least the first thing, that might´ve come to your mind, when having a look at the time at which the gig was supposed to start. 17:30, 4 bands, you can´t be serious, no?! Luckily, this was only the entrance time and no band entered stage before 18:30. Still, to early for a package of four bands. Especially for those, who had to hurry to get to the venue after work. Even more strange, when seeing, that the gig ended at 11pm. But oh well, let´s stop complaining about that - in contrast to some other cities, where they had actually announced a later beginning, the bands started earlier and made lots of people miss the first band, sometimes even a part of the second one, too.

Whatever it was, that made the metalheads show up later, when the first band Arsis was on stage, the audience was still quite small. Despite the wonderfully chaotic traffic, (one-way)streets and whatnot in Saarbrücken, I arrived almost on time to catch the Technical Melodic Death combo. Arsis were damn awake and present their music in a motivated way, quite a contrast to the audience, that almost seemed to be sleeping, apart from a few fans, cheering the band and raising horns. However, the band of course didn´t give up and got more and more people active as the gig went on. Great stuff, surely worth being checked out! So wherever you´re going to watch this tour, make sure to be there on time!

Next band was Swedish Scar Symmetry with more melodic, but nevertheless progressive touch. After parting with their old very talented vocalist, Christian Älvestam, quite a lot of people surely have been wondering what might happen to the band. He was replaced by not only one, but two vocalists: Roberth Karlsson and Lars Palmpqvist, the latter one mainly being responsible for the clean vocals, the other one for growling. Expections were of course quite high, so their gig was eagerly awaited. They kicked off with "Noumenon And Phenomenon", which is also the first single, from their latest album "Dark Matter Dimensions". The interaction between bandmembers was really great to see, since all of them seemed to get along pretty well and had fun being on stage (that impression was confirmed lateron, when having a short chat with bassist Kenneth "We want to have a good time on stage"). However, the new material sounded good on stage, being delivered in a flawless way, by the musicians. When it came to older stuff like "Retaliator" and such, some weakness in the clean vocals was showing up though. As good as Lars is, the higher parts seemed to be difficult and were altered and sung a bit lower - after all we´re all still used to those songs sung by their former vocalist. So this was a slight disappointment in a way - still, I don´t want to judge to harshly on that, maybe it was just a bad day? We shall see. Scar Symmetry are back at full drive, new vocalists and same great trademarks and music as always!

Everybody was expecting Devildriver to be up next, so the surprise was quite big to see some interestingly looking micstands and finally the huge "Evangelion" backdrop. No doubt, the next band was going to be Behemoth. Everybody kept on wondering though, since they were on top of the posters and would´ve fitted the headliner position a bit more for various reasons, that should become even more obvious during the gig (and afterwards). So after a pretty long changeover (more than 30 minutes), that was accompanied by some mystic, gloomy and atmospheric instrumental, a dramatic intro started and there they were, the corpsepainted Black-Death Metal force from Poland. Everybody, who has ever seen them live, knows how damn brutal and energetic this band is. This was proved to be true once more that evening. All over a sudden, the venue had filled up remarkably, lots of horns were raised, Behemoth screaming, hell broke lose. Something, that interrupted the "brutal flow" in a way, were the instrumentals after each song. Why? They are very special in a way, but atmospheric stuff or not, I would´ve preferred constant destruction. The sound was really clear and powerful, which is especially worth mentioning, when it comes to the last band of the evening... Songs like "Conquer All", the brutal "Slaves Shall Serve" or "Chant For Ekzaton" were welcomed by the fans and a lot of headbanging could be seen. Finally the crowd seemed to be fully awake. This is the live inferno we know from Behemoth, a band, that totally fits to the title "Neckbreakers Ball". Too bad, they didn´t have more time to destroy more necks.

After another changeover of approximately 20 minutes, it was time for the headliner, that hardly anyone had expected to be the headliner. Not that Devildriver are a bad band or not entertaining live, absolulty not! But after this Polish massacre, it was surely not an easy task to top that. Being a band, that seems to be on tour almost non-stop, Devildriver of course know how to get their audience going and how to deliver a good show. Thus they presented a well mixed setlist containing lots of catchy tunes that surely pleased all the fans. "End Of The Line" started the madness, followed by "Not All Who Wander Are Lost". After the third song, we got out of the photopit and what seemed to be a problem of the sound in the pit, turned out to be a real sound problem. Since it was hard to recognize some songs at times from the side, I started wandering around in the audience, but not even directly in front of the sound guy, you could call the sound acceptable. It was just...loud... Sure we all like our music loud, but then well mixed please. When you can hardly hear the guitar(s), that might work sometimes, but not with the melodic, yet punchy stuff the devilish pack from California is playing. Thus is was quite frightening, that a song like "Hold Back The Day" for example was hard to recognize, since the melodies got almost lost. Despite this mushy sound, that was hardly improving during the gig, the show was entertaining, just as expected. Since Behemoth had managed to wake up the audience, Devildriver continued from there and got a circle pit, moshing and headbanging, yes even some crowdsurfing. Too bad, that the party was already over at eleven, after hardly one hour of Devildriver.

Despite the soundproblems, this package left an overall positive impression nevertheless, since all bands delivered solid gigs - with or without a crowd that was going off the rails.

Cornelia Wickel

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