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Like lucky pigs Konz and me were sitting with the Hammer-crew in the bright sunshine in Dessel, while all colleagues, who decided to go to another festival, were totally drowning. This was only one good aspect of this year´s Graspop.
After we arrived in Dessel, the check-in was a lot easier and faster for us than last year, so that we, if we had been here in time, could even have seen all bands. But as we could not leave that early from home, we arrived early afternoon and because of that unfortunately missed bands like Chimaira (you´ll find an interview with the band in the "stories-interviews" section here on the website), Immolation (that annoyed me, as they have an exeptional drummer) and Metal Church... well... we are sorry.
The Teutonic flagship sailed once again through well known waters. Posing, circling the drumstick between the fingers and clenching fists. That obviously has to be like this with this music, even though it didn´t appear spontaneous at all. Be that as it may, the viewers in Marquee 1 had fun and loudly sang along with hits like „Rebellion“ (Konz)
With Kreator it was similarly valuable. Great choice of songs, phantastic lightshow and bombastic sound – so nothing could go wrong. No wonder, that the guys from the Ruhr Valley were the definite winners against Nevermore, who played the same time. The only minus of the technically perfect performance was the little homogeneous stage show. Somehow the three string acrobats hardly seemed as a unit: in one corner Sami stands about like a vegetable being rooted on the spot, in the other Speesy gets a herniated disc from continuously banging his head, and in the middle Mille is of course the focus of attention. At least in this point a need of improvement. (Konz)
It´s quite impressive, that one shall fill over an hour program with only two real hits. So the typical American Popmetal of the Cockroaches was burbling mostly past the audience, and the tries, to get the crowd at least sometimes to yell „Hey, hey, hey“ deflagrated quite piteous. But then with „Getting away with murder“ and the obligatory „Last Resort“ the crowd got wild. After all. (Konz)
For me it will remain an eternal mistery, how this band could become so big. I can remember, that Within Temptation were boo´d at some ten years ago at Dynamo, as a miserable Theatre Of Tragedy copy. I must admit, the music became absolutely independent in the meantime and the performance on records quite acceptable, but live Sharon and Co. just don´t make it. Especially the front woman had enormeous problems in regular intervals to hit the right tone. Even if all the warbler fans liked it a lot, my neck hair was rising. (Konz)
Well, already for this gig, the travelling to Graspop was worth it. Dave and his co-musicians presented themselves really top- well-rehearsed, as if they had never done anything else. And this, although they´ve been together on stage only since October. Additionally, they had an outstanding and all band-phases comprising song selection, with all hits that one could pack into one hour playing. Apropos playing time: Why Megadeth were just allowed to play at the Marquee and not on the main stage wasn´t clear to me or most of the others. The guys made the best out of it, didn´t waste any time on announcements and senseless sing-along-games. Just as well. No wonder, that there is deafening noise during the concluding bow. Just one little note to all bands, who felt wrongly torn to pieces lately: Simply attent a Megadeth show, and then critically think about the own performance. (Konz)
As we are always hard-pressed for money and thus not enjoy sleeping in a hotel in Dessel, we made an experience on the parking / camping ground for crew and journalists, which could have originated from Twighlightzone. Usually the ground is totally packed, here were apart from us maybe 10 other cars... In general there was almost no press on site. But that might be because it is much harder to get an accreditation and many other festivals were taking place at the same time with Graspop. Well, we felt a little lost after all so alone on the ground, and camping wasn´t allowed either, so I shorthandly moved to the big camping site, while Konz enjoyed the loneliness of his car. Okay, it wasn´t easy to fall asleep with never ending"Helga!" and "Timmy!" shouts, but at some point it finally worked.
Just like last year food and drinks were only issued against vouchers. Unfortunately they looked different than last year´s, and only those were valid. Many who didn´t spend the last vouchers last year or could get them refunded could now just throw them away and buy new ones. Beer was once again solely the „delicious“ Koff, which really just slowly started tasting better after the fourth one. The hygiene was exemplary and also the staff and security just like last year simply good.
The festival visitors seemed this year even more international as last year. At the breakfast-table alone were metalheadz from Japan, Israel, Hungary and Italy – all of them extremely relaxed and in good mood..
And another warbler-combo. Without wanting to offend our neighbours from Benelux, but the celebrating of ladies with squeaky voices can now really just be called a misguided taste. Same goes for Epica, who were despite their fully replaceable sound celebrated according to all rules of the art. Thank God they sold ear-plugs for one Euro on the festival site. (Konz)
One can say what one wants about the redneck-version of AC/DC“, but the show of the kangaroo- tamers was damn cool: No intro, no stage structures, only an old Marshall and guitars dangling front of knees. The show was clearly split into two. On one side there was front-dwarf Angry Anderson, who sang himself more and more into a true intoxication, screamed, preached and with it also smashed one or the other microphone stand. The band on the other side is the personified coolness, who plays their part perfectly. Even the hectically waving guitar roadie who wanted to replace the guitar with a broken string was casually put off. And in general, the music exuded from Whiskey and cigarette smoke and was naturally damn cool. (Konz)
The Polish had lots of bad luck: firstly their bus broke down, so that they finally arrived with a 15 minute delay, what is quite a bit with 40 minutes playing time. And then the mega-bad sound, formed the riff-thunderstorm of the first three to four songs into a total mud. Too bad, as they really tried hard to compensate the fans for the waiting. „Antichristian Phenomenon“ and „Conquer you all“ anyways really blasted. (Konz)
Samael and the dear live-sound – a mere neverending martyrdom. But this time it obviously wasn´t the problem, that the mixer didn´t know how to handle the whole lot of electrical equipment, but the spatiality. As so often in the Marquee 1 on this weekend the sound was a total porridge. Not even pulpy or undifferentiated, but simply much to loud, to many hights, to little bass. It simply hurt. No wonder, that an apparent fan of the Swiss stood OUTSIDE the tent, and watched the happening on stage via spyglass. (Konz)
So there it was, the of many long wished for reunion of the New Yorker mosh-kings. To tell it in advance: the waiting was worth it. Playing-wise the quintet appeared, as if they had never gone seperate ways. Just Dan Spitz, the only guitar player, who is smaller than his instrument, seemed to be kinda moonily and celebrated first of all himself. But that doesn´t matter, as after all we got to hear many hits: „Indians“, „N.F.L.“ or „Got the Time“. Before the final „I am the Law“ Scott grabbed the Dimebag-Guitar and played the Pantera classic „A new Level“. Nevertheless I was a bit disappointed in the end, that apart from the opener „Among the Living“ not a single song was on the set, which hadn´t been played before with John Bush. No „Gung-Ho“, no „Deathrider“, no „I´m the Man“. What a pity. (Konz)
„Is it a woman singing?“, an ingenuous colleague asked me aside the main stage. No, but the ball-squeezing-vocal-acrobatics wasn´t any better as the one presented by the ladies of the creation at Graspop, even if not that squeaky. I don´t know, wether that was the reason for, why Kamelot went down so well with everyone but me. At least with or without the calls of the host on stage hands were thrown up in the air, that DJ Ötzi would have been most delighted. Also the Belgian followers absolutely showed more feeling for rhythm than the average Teutonian clap-along. (Konz)
Even ten years after the last common guest performance Accept are still something to rely on. But one has to admit, having such a large number of classics up their sleeve, there´s not that much that can go wrong, but also those must firstly be decently intoned – especially as Udo Dirkschneider delivers competition so to say from within the own ranks. In principle the experiment can be declared successful. Compared to the first reunion gig ad the Rock Hard festival that certain indefinable something, which would have made a very good gig an outstanding one was somehow missing. Firstly at Graspop the sound wasn´t as full as in Gelsenkirchen, and secondly the euphoria of the musicians themselves seemed quite a bit curbed after only one show. If it continues that way, the gig at Wacken will be average at the most. (Konz)
What can one still say about this band? Slayer shows have never been a guarantor for variety: the band always plays damn tight and cool their set, the sound is always differentiated, although a bit too low (so it is here), the show is dry, almost as you would watch those four through a display window . Real interaction with the audience does not happen. The choice of songs was quite ok, as there was one or the other rarely heard classic added to the program. Nevertheless a pity, that we didn´t get the complete „Reign In Blood“ disc presented in Continental Europe. (Konz)
One could hardly miss Slipknot after „Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses“. No matter wether with Metallica, Slayer, or on one or the other festival, the nine chaotics from Iowa presented every time the same, admittetly perfect, but still the same show. There wasn´t much left of it at Graspop. Although Shaun „Clown“ Crahan stayed for family reasons back home, the setlist was changed at some places. So we got to hear amongst others the current single „Never Forget“ and the seldomly played „Everything Ends“ , and also the rest was as usual worth seeing and hearing. „Wait and Bleed“ was sung along, and during „Spit it out“ the crowd got mandatorily on their knees. Big tennis! (Konz)
Sunday was a severe test for the writer. Surely, one can argue about tastes, and ball-squeezing-metal surely has its right to exist, too, but to place solely eunuch-choirs on main-stage was in the end a bit too much. The beginning was made by the international troll-conglomerate Dragonforce. Playing-wise surely totally ok, but musically as well as visually totally replaceable. (Konz)
Nuclear Assault are somehow strange. The guys rock like hell, have in Danny Lilker a real old-school rocker amongst them and still it somehow doesn´t work out. I´m not even talking about the – let´s say „needing-to-get-used-to“ organ of frontguy John Connelly. Because the songs are admittingly rocking well, but have absolutely no value for recognition. Only highlight: The country-parody „Long Haired Asshole“. Quite chavvy, but funny. (Konz)
The German fraction unceremoniously had to swap places, as Axel Rudi Pell & Co. got stuck with the bus in a traffic jam. So Primal Fear were onstage first. The band acted enormously tight and Ralf Scheepers impressed with one of the strongest vocal performances of the entire festival. But the sympathetic balsdy (even such are reported to exist) somehow seemed moony, often stared onto the stage floor during the gig, and his announcements were mass-products at the most. (Konz)
AXEL RUDI PELL
As stiff as the blondie from Wattenscheid often appears on stage, as agile was the band that Axel Rudi signed. The keyboardist dragged his whole instrument including rack across the stage, Mike Terrana dismantled his drum gear into pieces and singer Johnny Gioeli collected kilometre allowance. Nevertheless this and his outstanding vocal abilities couldn´t belie the fact, that he could hardly reach the charm of a toast with his short hair and his undershirt. (Konz)
Yngwie annoyed. Truly. Firstly the exceptional guitarist was bloated and seemed with his eyeliner-blackened dark circles around the eyes like a shadow of his former self. Additionally, there was the constant plectrum-throwing. During every song at least 20 little plastic discs flew through the air – however those only reached the press pit, if not even just remained on stage, and did NOT reach the audience. And apparantly good old Yngwie wasn´t aware of his own extensive back-catalogue, as instead of playing one song after another, he preferably wanted to impress with endless solo-escapades, what took the entire flow out of the whole thing. And thanks to a clever binding endorsement contract, the entire equipment in use was announced as well. Who the hell is interested in, which amplifier, guitar or showergel he uses??? (Konz)
Even with his meanwhile estimated 119 years of age, Ronnie James Dio is still one of the greatest singers in the rock world. According to this one doesn´t need to fear about the show of the little man with the great voice. Rather about his musicians. Simon Phillips and Greg Goldie bored with absolutely unnecessary solos and the keyboardist looked, as if he would have to pay the nearest heart-lung-machine a visit. See at Malmsteen: instead of un-inspired tootling rather play a few songs more. There would have surely been time then for „Mob Rules“. (Konz)
In the past Lacuna Coil shows were rather static, for not to use the bad word of boredom. But the intensive USA-tours in recent days have done aparently good to the Italians. From now on they don´t play, but work. As a unity they mosh and also leave the fixed sqare meter on stage. Earlier unthinkable. If then like at Graspop sound and lights are good, one could even buy a DVD of this band – and not only because of Ms Scabbia. (Konz)
Well, I´m not really able to warm to Dream Theater live. Though the exceptional musicians convey their finger-breaking actions the same, the songs are merely too dodgy, to get people in the mood, especially on a festival. What is left, is open mouths everywhere and little movement. (Konz)
Iron Maiden once again pulled out all the stops. Great stage setups, onehundredandtwelve different backdrops and the obligatory stalking around Eddie. The gentlemen appeared – foremost of course Bruce Dickinson – markedly agile. But there we have already the first point of criticism: Jannic Gers must leave. This guy simply annoys with his continuous posing, and meanwhile no one can say anymore, that one could get used to it. Secondly I must criticize: why were only songs of the first four albums played? I don´t get this. Surely we got to enjoy some seldomly or never played classics because of this, but surely also after „Piece Of Mind“ there were enough masterpieces. They would have perfectly fit into the 30 minutes those six guys had disappeared too early from stage. (Konz)
Sebastian (Konz) Konopka, Samira Alinto (SA), Translation: Melanie Kircher