Helloween have been around for a few decades, consistently churning out pretty decent metal music. Given they last toured here for the first time several years ago, it wasn’t surprising to witness a sea of faded old t-shirts up against the brand new merchandise for the band’s latest and very good album, My God-Given Right. But before the twin guitar power metal legends were to hit the stage again in Sydney, a couple of well experienced Australian support acts were in tow to warm up the crowd.
Cranking up the crowd first off was Sydney band Darker Half, who hammered out quality tracks from their Never Surrender album plus some older tunes for good measure. Established guitarist Jimmy Lardner-Brown, who joined the band fairly recently, shredded away with precision whilst front man Vo Simpson put in a full throttling effort. Drummer Dom Simpson locked in well with bassist Simon Hamilton. Whilst this reviewer only managed to catch a portion of their set, it was ever reliable.
LORD were next up and pushed the volume up a notch. As they delved into material such as ‘Set in Stone’, they took it upon themselves to shred their collective asses off. The twin guitar attack of Lord Tim and Mark Furtner hit some serious old school shred peaks with the airing of the thumping track ‘Resurrection’. Subtle as a brick, there were solos galore, the odd power metal sea shanty, a power ballad, an instrumental track and some amusing comic relief, mostly from bassist Andrew Dowling, ensuring that the whole set wasn’t taken too seriously. It is their self-deprecating humour that lets them get away with indulgences. Ripping stuff and no one was complaining. Lord might be an acquired taste for those into falsetto vocals but they are a fun metal band in the live arena.
As the changeover for the headliners was underway, the PA offered some apt warbling tunes. Soon enough, the lights dimmed and on hopped Helloween. Jovial and immediately developing a rapport with the audience, front man Andi Deris bounced about the stage with enthusiasm as drummer Daniel Löble kept the fast, pulsing beats going for opening track ‘Eagle Fly Free’. Bassist Markus Grosskopf delivered a brief technical master-class as a leather clad guitarist Sascha Gerstner dropped some ripping leads on a Flying V guitar. Meanwhile, with a casual cool that metal bands would do well to observe, founding guitarist Michael Weikath delivered rhythmic power with ease, barely breaking a sweat. His cool swagger started with ‘Dr. Stein’ and continued with the new album’s title track’.
A real treat was ‘Steel Tormentor’ from The Time of the Oath which indicated what European power metal was doing in the 90s while everyone else was on the grunge bandwagon. The song simply powered along without fault. ‘Mr Torture’ flew by with an element of silliness but it was the more recent material like ‘Waiting for the Thunder’ from Straight Out of Hell and the relevant title track that had the crowd completely won over, allowing the new album track of ‘Heroes’ to sneak into the set before the drum solo.
Sadly, some technical issues with Sascha’s guitar during ‘Where the Rain Grows’ led to some quips from Andi including that he could finally hear himself sing when a two guitar song only had one guitar in it, which was reportedly a rare event. Pushing on, with a few more guitar issues, two new album tracks ‘Lost in America’ and ‘Russian Roulé’ still managed to turn out pretty well, all things considered with the latter track seeing the band back to full twin guitar harmony mode and Andi still capable of some high pitched falsetto singing as well as powerful bark.
Heading towards the end of the main set, the power ballad ‘If I Could Fly’ demonstrated their song writing construction skills as the crowd sung along. ‘Power’ was introduced with the usual song reference in an introductory sentence and the gallop of the track added a lighter feel to proceedings. Closing out the main set, a medley of sections from classic tracks did the job. It kicked off with a good chunk of ‘Halloween’ from their classic second album, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1, a couple of nineties era tracks and some tongue on cheek power metal in the song ‘Are You Metal?’ from the 7 Sinners album. Naturally, ‘Keeper of the Seven Keys’, with its spatial chorus guitar sounds and walking bass line ebbed into the sustained rock chords, crashing cymbals and soaring vocals.
Encore time hit and ‘Future World’, also from Keeper Part 1 was played with flawless execution. The final track of the night was of course the commercially successful ‘I Want Out’ from Keeper Part II which was milked into an extended call and response game with the audience. It went over brilliantly though, proving yet again that Helloween are an incredibly talented live band with a great knack for entertaining the crowd. It was 100 minutes of power metal from the headliners that simply flew by. Sensational stuff.
Eagle Fly Free
My God-Given Right
Waiting for the Thunder
Straight Out of Hell
Where the Rain Grows
Lost in America
If I Could Fly
Halloween / Sole Survivor / I Can / Are You Metal? / Keeper of the Seven Keys
I Want Out