| This was the second annual Magic Circle Festival. Manowar had announced that they would celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album Kings of Metal by playing their first six albums in their entirety over two days. I expected nothing less than the highlight of the year.
The following is an account of how it all went down...
I started my 16 hour journey to the festival from Aarhus where I barely made it to the train in time. I was driven there by my girlfriend but just running from the car to the train station was enough to get completely soaked. The rain was coming down that hard. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.... Of course it didn't help that my umbrella broke into two pieces right outside the car so I had to drag the opened top part of it along with all my luggage. I got some funny looks from those who had taken shelter from the rain in the entrance to the station.
Just as I set foot on the train it started driving. Wet and a bit out of breath I tumbled into the train cabin but was unfortunately caught in the automatic doors as they decided to close just as I went through and I got caught midway with all the luggage (sleeping bag, tent, chair, two freezing boxes with beer and water, a bag with my clothes, a camera bag and a backpack with stuff for the trip). I managed to get free of the automatic doors but now they wouldn't close. I had apparently broken them and now there was a cold draft flowing through the cabin for the whole trip. People looked kind of annoyed with me and it didn't help when, five minutes into the train ride, my wet sleeping bag fell from the luggage compartment and into the head of the guy sitting in front of me.
I tried to keep a low profile for the remaining train ride and managed to get to Copenhagen without causing anymore trouble. In Copenhagen I met up with Nina and Mads and we jumped on the Swedish festival bus that would take us the rest of the way. On the bus they had the Earthshaker DVD playing through the trip and it was a perfect warmup. I managed to get a few beers as well as a bit of sleep before the bus arrived in Bad Arolsen the next morning around 9am.
Walking around looking for a good place to camp I heard a voice shouting "Steeeen!" and it turned out to be my German Brother of metal Benno who directed us to a place near their camp. Paul + Girlfriend was already camped there and later Brother Jim arrived, also from the mighty English hills.
We got the tents set up and started looking around to get familiar with the camping ground. Stuart was arriving from Scotland later and the festival grounds had not yet opened so there was not much else to do than look around and enjoy the still cold beer.
Turned out there was no paper in any of the toilets that were set up but being a hardened festival goer I had of course brought my own. What's worse is that none of us were able to find water posts anywhere.
It had been announced that the festival area would open at 12 noon where "the reigning 'Mr. Metal' Udo Sapper will break the chains to the festival grounds". A lot of people had gathered at the festival entrance to see this but absolutely nothing happened. I met some friends there while waiting and had a look at what was going on. Funny thing was that just a bit past 12 the actual chain that was going to be cut was hung up!
I waited around for another half hour while nothing happened. By then I had been in contact with Stuart who was arriving from Scotland along with Barry and his girlfriend. They had taken a big detour but were now close by so I decided it was more important to meet them and show them where we were camped instead of watching the chain anymore.
So I met up with the Scottish guys who had hooked up with a German brother of metal (Michael) and after their long detour through the woods they were very happy to have finally found the camp grounds. While they were setting up their tents I headed back to see if anything had happened with the chain. Of course it had just been cut as I made my way back there. Udo was speaking to the crowd but I could absolutely not hear anything.
As there was a huge crowd waiting to get in, I headed back for the camp to let out my inner beer.
When we finally went into the festival grounds it was a 10 minute walk along a road to the actual stage. There wasn't anything interesting along this road, just abandoned buildings. It would have been cool if this road was made into a huge long Metal Market. The place looked like an abandoned military base or industrial complex. On one day there was actually someone working there cutting steel which was, well, pretty cool. When we finally got to the festival grounds nothing had opened yet. It was 4pm and it was impossible to buy food anywhere. This was just not good enough since I was damn hungry. The only thing in the festival grounds was a huge line of people waiting to get autographs.
Finally I noticed the one food stall that had opened on Wednesday started serving. I got in line and ordered the classic "steak im brot". But after having opened for no more than 30 minutes they were out of bread. They did not understand it when I tried to explain that I just wanted the meat without the bread. That was not possible and for ten minutes confusion reigned in the food stall. I ended up with two bratwurst sausages and gave one to Benno who was waiting in the huge line.
Since nothing was happening and no vendors had opened yet we decided to head into the town to find some water, but on our way out of the camping grounds a friendly guard directed us to the one water faucet on the entire camping grounds. Yes! We found water. And there was much rejoicing and hailing of the water post...
Regarding the food stalls, I spent a lot of time waiting there just to be able to order something. It was a defect of the festival that the food stalls in general had way too few people tending to the festival guests. More people to serve food and a much better variety is one improvement that should be made next year. After getting home from the festival it took a while before wanted to eat anything grilled again and that is highly unusual.
Another problem I ran into on the festival was the guards and people in the food and beer stalls inability to understand English. The people working on the festival were all Germans and very few of them understood any English. It seemed to me that every question in English was met by a firm but polite "keine ahnung". One guy I was talking to told me that he had gone to one of the food stalls which were serving sausages and asked what kind of food they served. He got the reply "no food. No food here". He then pointed to the sausages and was promptly served one... It was German efficiency in bizzaro-world.
I got by with a bit of German and lots of pointing at steaks.
While I'm at it I might as well continue with the water issue. It was not possible to buy still water anywhere on the festival grounds for the entire festival, which was a major problem. As on other festivals there needs to be at least one water post with several taps, both on the festival grounds and on the camping grounds. If there had been a bit more sun this lack of water could have caused some serious issues.
We headed back to the camp to not dehydrate as we talked about how this could be the worst arranged festival ever. There was no information on the free beers, free single or the sound check which had all been announced previously for Wednesday. Overall there was a serious lack of information to the guests at the festival. Luckily things started getting better as the festival went by and these things were rectified.
The sound check
After partying at the camp for a while we decided to head back in to see if anything had improved. Getting past the security check I heard the sound of Manowar playing. This must be the sound check, so I ran for the stage as fast as I could. Unfortunately my health seems to have seriously deteriorated with age (or maybe beer) and after running for just a minute I was completely out of breath and ended up in the festival grounds exhausted and gasping for breath.
I arrived just as Manowar played part of Blood of the kings. The band was having fun on stage and played Heart of Steel (English version yay!), The Oath (the whole song) and Blackwind fire and steel. The sound was absolutely amazing. Clear, loud and amazingly powerful. Eric sounded like he was never going to run out of breath.
Clearly something huge was to be expected over the next few days. Even though the sound check was three hours late it was quickly forgiven as Joey took the microphone and announced that free beer would run for the next 15 minutes. The audience scattered like the winds as each person ran like mad for the closest beer tent. I got hold of one and re-discovered that German tap beer can be drunk but it tastes like shit. I haven't actually found one German festival where they serve good beer. Sweden Rock is a nice exception where they serve bottled beer made special for the festival. Another point for next year maybe. Manowar beer! Yes I would drink that! Of course I would have to pack some extra t-shirts, but this would be a cool improvement.
I discovered that it was only possible to buy beer at the stalls and I complained to several of them for not having any drinks. They listened and the day after it was possible to buy rum and coke and several others. Nice!
After the sound check we headed to the events hall to see what was going on. I had my hopes up for a metal disco marathon where they would play a great variety of Metal songs till dawn and where we could party all night. Unfortunately every night was taken up by the "Battle of the bands" where various bands got on stage and played some songs and a winner was decided sometime during the night. Being in the mood for a party I found this extremely boring and never managed to last through the whole Botb ordeal. I managed to see two bands this night, Sex Gepard (Big joke) and Stronghold (Much better).
After the battle of the bands finished finally some metal was put on and a party reigned at the front of the stage for half an hour where I and several other guys sang a long and went nuts to bands like Helloween, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and of course Manowar.
Suddenly people started leaving the hall and I thought it was time for the burning of the viking ship, the stage prop which had adorned the stage of the 2007 tour of Manowar. Entering the field behind the events hall a crowd was gathered to see the show. It was a bit weird since the ship looked a bit like a cardboard cutout and not like the huge thing I remember from the 2007 shows. Lots of firemen were there as well. Anyway, I got a pretty good spot on the left side and waited..... and waited. I waited a bit more and nothing happened.
After waiting for just over half an hour I caved in and decided it was not worth wasting more time waiting around just to see this stage prop lit up and headed back to the camp where I slept like a baby till the next morning.
Thursday - Party time
Of course I regretted this weak decision as soon as I woke up. Talking to the other guys I was told that Eric had walked in with bow and a flaming arrow and shot it at the ship which then burst into flames. A Viking wedding ceremony had also been performed with Joey as the vicar. This had not stopped Joey from making jokes about the wife's sister, and from what I was told it was pretty funny.
I got a nice cold bath and now I was in the mood for a party. The line at the breakfast stall was so huge that I decided I would get something else to eat but there was no other food available anywhere! The supermarket on wheels didn't open till 5 in the afternoon which was a bit late (5 o'clock what the fuck is up?)
I decided it was time for a party at the camp to get ready for the today's music and so did everyone else. I had not been able to find my small speakers when I was packing but fortunately Stuart had brought his along. Starting out with a good selection of Manowar, beers were soon flowing. Several Swedes from the bus joined the party and each brought along different kinds of beer and alchohol. (A mighty Hail to Johan for the Jim Beam!!). When I just sort of happened to put on the mix of my top 100 favorite songs things started getting out of control. Obviously such good music can not go unaccompanied by singing and so songs by Virgin Steele, Savatage, Lost Horizon, Manowar and many others were sung, no shouted, with much conviction. Mads later told me that no less than three times was When the crowds are gone by Savatage sung, and each time with a little more feeling than the last.
I ran into Benno the next day and he told me that he had come by just as I was singing Achilles.... I of course did not see this as I was in total jukebox mode.
Jim Beam, Vodka, Dooley substitute, Whisky, Rum, Fisk and other assorted goodies made for a great party but the absence of food all day meant that I got a serious infection of memory loss at some point. I do remember singing Return of the warlord (including motorcycle sounds) very loudly and then suddenly I awoke in front of a foreign tent feeling very confused. The theory goes that I had suddenly decided that I wanted to head to the festival grounds to get pictures of Benedictum, but I never made it further than the Swedish camp, three tents away from my own before I passed out and fell asleep, using my camera bag as a pillow.
I was feeling rather peckish at this point and I still wanted to get pictures of Benedictum so I headed for the festival grounds. When I arrived in the Festival area Ted Nugent was about to go on, so that was a bit of a failed mission.
I got a few pictures of Ted Nugent who played an energetic and enjoyable show. He was on fire and seemed to enjoy the whole thing very much.
I was apparently still a bit off at this point. I wanted to know what time it was so I walk up to this couple sitting in the grass, kneel down and ask "Excuse me do you know the time?" and it turns out to be Lunah and Tobias who had arrived in the camp earlier that day and understand Danish perfectly well. I shuffled off to see if they had any good drinks in the event hall... That was closed so I ended up CD shopping in the Hot Shots tent and making calls to Tommy back in Denmark to ask, in a high-pitch silly voice, if particular albums I located were any good.
Alice Cooper was the highlight of the day and he put on a superb show. The Welcome to my nightmare section where he performed Welcome..., Cold Ethel, Only women bleed and Stephen was a clear highlight for me. The show ended with Dead babies, Schools Out, Million $ Babies, Poison and finally Elected.
The battle of the bands was on again but I couldn't be bothered. I was a slight bit knackered at this point so once again I headed off to dreamland to be ready for the next day and the reason I was there in the first place, Manowar.
I got up early and having learned from my mistake yesterday, I headed directly for the breakfast stand with Stuart, waited in line and got the much needed breakfast so I had a chance of making it through the day without passing out from lack of food... I was pretty much out of beers after yesterdays party and it was not possible to buy new ones anywhere but in the town, a long walk away. This was even though it had been proclaimed prior to the festival that people shouldn't carry too much beer themselves as there would be plenty of opportunity to buy them on location.
Death to false information is all I have to say.
We headed to festival grounds early to catch a South African band with the name of Kobus. Their music didn't impress me but they played an interesting version of Manowar's Pleasure Slave sung in South African and dedicated the song to Joey Demaio. That at least deserves a mighty Hail.
Stormwarrior played a good show, this time without Kai Hansen. Thor the Thunderer was again a highlight. The band sounds good but after having seen them three times I really started noticing how much alike their songs are. Musically they could surely use a more variation.
Jack Starr's Burning Star had just been signed to Magic Circle Music and live today they were supported by the musicians of Stormwarrior. Their singer Tod, didn't sound like he had a very wide range but the new song "Ancient Ones" sounded like it might have potential. Their new album will be released in Semptember through MCM.
During the Burning Starr set we decided to head back to camp and share the 5 litres beer can Lunah and Tobias had brought for Nina and Mads yesterday. Rumors that both Def Leppard and Whitesnake had cancelled started floating around at this point.
The new Manowar single "Die with honor" had been given away at the entrance today! Apparently a merchandise guy had forgotten the single on the first day and this was the reason they were not given away then but better late than never.
At the camp we got out the big beer and Mads (Beer Conan) split it open.
the new single was put on Stuart's Discman and everyone gathered around the small speakers in a circle as we listened intently to the new song for the first time. My first impression was that if this had been a Manowar drinking game then we'd all be roaring drunk by the time the song had ended. Especially the line "Fight with blood" made everyone smile. The song offered really nothing new and it seemed to me that like "Die for Metal" it was just a bit too easy for Manowar to make a song like this. We listened to the song a few more times and slowly it started sinking in.
At one point some hungover Norwegians passed by and one proclaimed that he had drunk 20 beers yesterday...
Doro was coming up so I headed for the photo pit along with Stuart.
She played a great show which I'm sure Stuart will get more into in his report. My impression was really great. She was obviously happy to be there and sang with an impressive amount of power. Deep inside my heart was a highlight.
I didn't catch the whole show and I was hungrily roaming around at the Barbeque stand for some chicken some way from the stage when I heard the beginning of Doro's special cover version of Breaking the law. This sounded amazingly powerful but I never made it back in time to see it. Damn. Besides that she played a lot of old Warlock tunes.
I was going to see Brazen Abbott but missed them and later found out that they had somehow been replaced by Beloved Enemy. Don't know what happened there.
W.A.S.P was on fire but the audience was not. It was a bit sad to see some of the dedicated Manowar fans who had arrived as soon as the gates opened, run in and gotten a place in first row only to stand there and be completely oblivious to most of the other bands that played. It gave the crowd at the front a very weird vibe during many of the other shows. I remember singing loudly along to Gotthard in the photo pit only to look behind me and see a bunch of people in first row, some looking mad and some looking like they could fall asleep at any time while others were doing Manowar signs. I understand people want to be in the first row, but I find that sort of behaviour both funny and kind of sad since it is not a decent way to treat any band.
I got some photos of Gotthard as well and they played a great show. The songs from Domino effect came off really great and lead singer Steve Lee has a voice that holds up very well live.
Finally it was time for the main event. Manowar was about to take the stage so Stuart and I went to the photo pit along with the rest of the photographers. We were told to wait in line just outside the pit while the band got ready. The weather had been good until this point with clouds but only scattered rain. While we were standing in the photo pit waiting for the show, the biggest rain fall of the festival came along. 30 minutes later it was still raining and I was soaked to the skin.
But a very special bonus was in store. As the rain started to clear the most beautiful rainbow appeared in the horizon. From where I was standing it appeared to start in the middle of the audience and rise up over the stage. It was a magnificent sight I will never forget.
Finally, after 40 minutes of waiting we were let into the photo pit and the show was about to begin.
I had been hoping that Manowar would play their albums chronologically with the songs in the right order. I pretty much got my wish granted, except they started the show with "Manowar" as they always have. At once it was clear that the sound was amazing. Loud, powerful and crystal clear. For the first three songs I stayed in the photo pit and tried to take as many pictures as possible.
It was a very special experience to see the band up close and Manowar, Death Tone and Metal Daze was delivered with much power and enthusiasm by the band. It was a special moment as the opening motorcycle sound of Death Tone began. It was like a portal back in time to the early eighties when these songs were first released. That they still hold up so well today confirms their timeless quality. Karl looked like he had a lot of fun and Eric, well, I found myself amazed at his voice back in 2007 when they toured German, but tonight he was even better. There is no doubt that he is and will always be my favorite vocalist. There is no one I have ever heard that can do what he did these two nights. His voice had an air of magic to it and as he nailed the opening of Metal Daze there was no doubt that it still holds awe-inspiring power.
After Metal Daze we were thrown out of the photo pit and Stuart and I tried to find a good spot in the audience. It was surprisingly easy to get to the front part of the audience and we got a pretty good spot in about row 20 from the stage on the right side, where it was actually possible to see the stage because most of the flags were located on the left side. A note on the flags: There were so many of them and they looked stunning, seriously amazing, but I felt sorry for the people standing behind the flags who most likely couldn't see shit.
This concert and the one the day after were an experience and a celebration of the first six Manowar albums. I am not able to recount every detail as I had too much fun in the audience, singing along, playing air guitar, jumping and generally enjoying myself. But one thing is for sure, these shows were among the best I have ever seen by any band and I feel sorry for any Manowar fans who missed them.
Karl did most of the original solos but put his own spin on many of them. Mostly by shredding an extra bit.
Another special thing with these concerts was that Rhino was playing the drums. Scott had not been able to come for personal reasons and we heard something about a tragedy striking his family.
Rhino played with amazing skill and he delivered an absolutely fantastic performance. He enhanced many of the songs with some extra bit of drumming and it worked really well.
The audience was surprisingly quiet tonight. A lot of the people who stood beside me were just gazing at the stage. We spent Fast Taker and most of my personal favorite Shell Shock to find our good spot in the audience. But when that was secure I started to really enjoy the show.
I jumped through the fast part of Dark Avenger and by this point I was not thinking about being soaked to the skin anymore.
Joey came out with his bass and played Williams Tale. Afterwards he gave a speech about how Def Leppard and Whitesnake had cancelled their performances. He didn't give any reason, but the fact that people in the first place had come to see Manowar. It brought the point home to the Manowar fans but it didn't make much sense in terms of looking at this as a festival, as the organisers should always have a band on backup if something like this happens. Metal Hammer also got a blow on the head for demanding an explanation for the cancellation.
After this Battle hymn ended the first part of the show. It was an amazing song to hear live. At the beginning Rhino made the Sign of the hammer while Joey was playing bass and everyone complied. It is impossible to describe but the band just nailed this song in every way.
Battle Hymn had a big massive ending and without time to catch a breath the opening sound of Warlord came from the speakers. As Into glory Ride is my favorite Manowar album this part of the show cannot really be described fully. It was just an experience that you had to be there to fully comprehend. Secret of steel and Gloves of Metal made a welcome return as I had remembered them from the 2007 tour.
Joey gave 4 speeches on the first night and none of them were too long. In one of his speeches he talked about honor, passion and it really touched something. It had a very strong message to the fans and is the best speech I have ever heard him give.
Gates of Valhalla was absolutely breathtaking with Eric singing in a way I had not thought still possible. He was in total control and the song came off as a major and very powerful highlight. The atmosphere of the song was captured and enhanced by the live setting and it was seriously like being in an otherworldly place.
For Hatred I began to notice some effects that were being put on Eric's voice. They were not destroying anything but were kind of echoes of his own voice that made the screams seems just a tad more powerful.
Joey came out and held a speech in which he listed all the countries that were present at the festival. I let out a mighty wail as he mentioned Denmark, but he forgot Scotland. He rectified this on the second day however.
Another song I had looked forward to for a long time was Revelation. Eric completely nailed the opening part "Die with the beeeeeeaaaaeeeeeeeeaaeeeeiiii-iiiist". The rythm that was laid down by Rhino was nothing less than perfect, making this another jump inducing highlight. Again they captured the feel of the song and enhanced it.
Rhino really deserves all the credit I can give him. His drumming was worthy of the songs and he actually managed to enhance several of them in a great way by making small adjustments and additions.
The timeless moments just kept on coming with March for Revenge. Again I was astonished by the band and how close to the original they were able to play it. Eric was again in top shape. He kneeled for the emotional "Fallen brother..." part and then rose and looked straight at the audience as he began singing "For when we ride...". it was and incredible moment.
It was now time to Hail England.
Blood of my enemies had me making my biggest jumps of the evening. I love that song as one of the finest Manowar have ever done.
Kill with power had the old routine that never fails to impress were Karl falls down for the guitar solo and Joey runs and jumps over him, Karl comes up right after just by using his legs and plays the solo while Joey is making spins back to his usual spot. Fun and impressive at the same time. Meanwhile Eric is dashing from one side of the stage to the other.
Joey then got ready to play Black Arrows and spoke into the microphone. Obviously something was wrong with the effects and he sounded very funny. Anyway he proceeded with the speech and then played the bass solo. He did the short version and it sounded to me like noise. I was happy when it was over.
After a short speech to the English people there where he excused that they'd not come to England for so long they hailed England with a great live version of this song. Another one of those songs I had longed to hear live for a long long time.
Army of immortals was a fantastic moment as well. The guitar was ultra heavy, Rhino laid down the perfect beat and Eric's voice rang clear through the cold nights air. As he sung the lines "Battle Hymns did sound the fall, You came to our side. You heard true metal, Into glory Ride..." a very special feeling got even more special.
The band left the stage and it seemed someone had forgotten to turn Joey's microphone off as I suddenly heard his voice, very low, coming from the speakers saying "Where's my beer?" and "Who's going to be out of a job?". I thought Hhmmmm... A little later Joey came out again and made another speech about the festival and how people had tried to stop Manowar from all angles. He ended with introducing their new single and told about the idea behind it, which gave the song a better meaning. The rest of the band came on stage and they played Die with Honor. The song worked well live, especially the ending part where it becomes extra powerful.
The band surprisingly continued with Warriors of the world and now the audience was suddenly awake and going wild and singing along, something I missed through the rest of the show. The flags were waving like mad and it was quite wild.
After this Joey came on again and made a goodnight speech. He had brought the daughter of the Mayor of the city onto the stage as the mayor himself was too shy to come along as I understood it. He was hailed and then Joey made some silly comments about the girls age and tried to get her to say a few words but she wouldn't.
People were starting to chant for Bridge of Death, and sure enough, Joey came out and started doing his bass intro. It was extended a bit and sounded really wonderful this evening. As Eric began singing a calm atmosphere descended on the whole place. The band played an unforgettable version of this song and only Joey's speech in the middle part sounded off because the effects on his voice had still not been fixed. He seemed to enjoy it though. Suddenly huge flames shot from the stage and a part of the stage behind the band began to burn. It looked pretty impressive and the fire remained for the rest of the song and is finished in a powerful climax with pyros going off all around and Eric's insane laughter.
I was still wet but immensely happy. The first three Manowar albums had just been performed live and it was a performance not to be forgotten any time soon. These songs are still as powerful and potent as the day they were recorded.
Stuart and I met up with Nina and Mads and we headed for the events hall. Here the battle of the bands was still going on and I found it really boring so in the end I headed off for bed as I wanted to be ready for the final day of Metal mayhem.
I woke up early and had to charge the toilets. With those bombed to hell I decided it was time for a shower so I headed to the baths where there was fortunately no line this early (7:30am). So I got into the shower container where 7 showers are lined up and choose one of the empty ones by the end. Just as I have undressed and I'm going to enter the shower cabin this guy next to me looks at me and laughs. So I ask "What?" and he speaks in English "This guy..." and I say "Yes?" and he struggles for words but points at the cabin and then makes a quick back and forth movement with his hand between his legs and I get his point... Needless to say I chose the next cabin in the hope that it has not also been violated. Thank you, unnamed shower blocker.
I return to the campsite all fresh and awake. Unfortunately we are all out of beers, so we head to the Festival grounds where absolutely nothing is happening. Back again for a bit of music at the camp. On the way back we run into Andreas who kindly offers a beer at the Danish camp. Here we also witness something quite ingenious as a local pizza delivery guy drives up and delivers a pile of pizzas to the camp. It turns out they have been ordering pizza from him for the entire festival. I really have to remember this trick for next year.
Back at the camp and beerless our German Brother Michael suddenly tells us of this house through the woods where we can buy beer. I will not go into further details of fear that this will not be possible next year, but off we go on a beer mission in the magic forest. Half an hour later we are the lucky owners of a keg of beer and some big bottles.
Later we head for the Festival grounds to catch the band with the somewhat unfortunate name HolyHell. Before the show a guy came on stage and read a proclamation saying that extreme volume levels were going to happen and that Manowar could not be held liable for any sustained hearing damage. What the fuck was that about?
I went down to get pictures of HolyHell but they disappointed me a little with their concert which didn't hold many surprises. They played a bunch of covers as well as some of their own songs but never really gained any identity. Well playing and professional, but not really unique.
Due to the cancellation of Def Leppard and Whitesnake the program had been moved around so every band had a longer playing time. This meant that Majesty actually were warming up for Manowar. Only now Majesty has joined the Magic Circle fold and changed their name to Metal Force! Bloody stupid name if you ask me, but I guess it suits their music quite well as I have always felt that the music of Majesty was mentally challenged. Manowar-light but without any kind of substance.
Just before the Metal Force show Joey came on stage and quenched the rumor that the Magic Circle Festival had been cancelled as it was apparently a rumor going around on the Internet. Everything was certainly still on. Also the free beer which flowed for another 10 minutes.
Majesty started playing and I was not too impressed. It took a couple of minutes before I discovered that their song Heavy Metal Battle Truck was in fact called Heavy Metal Battle Cry. It still inflated on the first note. Bring Metal to the stadiums is one of the funniest titles in recent times and the song absolutely lives up to it in terms of cluelessness.
Metal Force played a new song which sounded strangely inspired by Manowar's Warriors of the world. In fact it sounded like a complete ripoff
By the end of their show Tarek wanted the audience to shout "Hail to Metal Force" but naturally this became "Hail to Manowar".
Finally it was time for Manowar! Again...
Today I had decided that I would stay in the crowd from the beginning and not go to the photo pit and take photos. I hoped that the ones I got yesterday would do the trick and I really wanted to enjoy the concert with Nina, Mads, Stuart and the rest of the pack. That is how we started the concert but after some songs we were separated and I decided to head as far to the front as possible. I ended up enjoying the last half of the concert at the very front of the crowd in row 3 right at the center part of the stage and this was a really amazing experience. Being so close to the stage it was possible to suck everything in.
I didn't bother writing any notes or setlist down. I decided just to enjoy the concert to the fullest, so what you get here is not a detailed description of everything that went on. It is my memory of one of the greatest live shows I have ever experienced. It crawls up alongside Star One in Hamburg, 2002 as being completely magical and unforgettable. I was singing along, headbanging, playing air guitar to the solos, jumping up and down and generally just having loads of fun. So was the rest of the audience which felt much more alive today than yesterday.
Again Manowar, the song opened the show and after this it was time for the entire Sign of the hammer album. Yeah!
One of my favorite party songs, All men play on 10 was first and I proceeded to shout this song to the stage as loud as I could. Since my voice goes to eleven I managed to sing louder than pretty much anybody else in the crowd.
A song I would never thought I would hear live was Animal but today it happened and amazingly it worked splendidly live. A very funny song where Eric Adams really got into it. His opening scream sounded amazing and he had a big smile on his face while singing the chorus.
From here they mixed it up a bit and I don't remember the correct order of the songs. Looking back this whole concert seems like a dream. At the time it was pure ecstasy because the band honoured these songs by playing them in a way that even exceeded my wildest expectations. There were some very emotional moments through the concert that are indescribable.
The band was really on fire today. I often noticed Joey and Karl looking at each other with big smiles on their faces and it was obvious that everyone on stage was enjoying themselves.
Thor and Sign of the hammer were played side by side and it worked really well. Thor had the crowd acting as a huge choir and it was pretty amazing to hear.
After having heard Mountains on the 2007 tour I was looking forward to that experience again and with it came another highlight.
It was Eric Adams' birthday so at one point Joey walked onto the stage and started a happy birthday sing-a-long. Before doing this he tried to calm the crowd down and told us to please stay in tune. After he had sung along on the first lines Eric came and grabbed the microphone from Joey while laughing. Obviously the crowd was perfectly capable of singing this song on their own.
Some of the speeches and happenings this day had obviously not been rehearsed and it brought a few laughs as people had their timings all wrong.
At one point Joey brought out the chief of the fire department for a speech. Suddenly two almost naked girls walked on stage with flaming sticks and the fireman was going to tell everyone how hot he thought these girls were. Before they had done their thing he shouted happily "Uber heiss" and Joey said "Not yet" and took him a few steps back. The girls then proceeded to blow fire at the crowd.
After the epic bouncing experience that was Guyana it was time for Fighting the World!
Rhino laid down the The Beat and people were headbanging all around. As Eric sang the line "People keep asking if were gonna change" it seemed that everyone looked him straight in the eye and shouted "No way!!!"
Amazingly Eric's vocals actually held up for Blow Your Speakers. I could only stand amazed as this, my least favorite song of theirs, was a pure joy live.
There were a few mistakes during the concert but they only enhanced the experience and made it feel more alive. For example during Blow Your Speakers Eric started singing the "We got lots of stations..." part but only let out "We" before realizing that he was too early and promptly saved it by shutting up. A small but memorable moment.
Carry on was an incredible experience live and I only remember this song as a big sing-a-long rush.
Mads and I had talked about how cool it would be to hear Violence and bloodshed, but we both doubted that Eric could actually still sing it. Shame on us and another cool experience.
Rhino did a superbly enhanced Drums of doom solo which continued into Holy War, another unforgettable song live. I'm really running out of superlatives here. Everything was just sooo amazing. I wish I had been in the sequel to the movie "Groundhog Day", called "Manowar Day" where the lead actor, i.e. me, got to relive this concert on and on until he won one of the Harleys, which incidentally were given away in the first part of the show to some very happy guys.
After Defender it was time to celebrate the 20'th anniversary of the album Kings of Metal! And so we did, with a finely tuned mix of sing-alongs, manic headbanging, rythmic jumping. I was in row three by now and had the most perfect view of the stage. Around me everyone stood their ground and sang along to every song.
This is how a Manowar show should be enjoyed.
Kings of Metal was perhaps the wildest song of the evening where everyone went crazy and I don't think "Manowar kill" has ever resounded so loudly.
Finally I got to hear Heart of steel sung in English and it was a truly emotional moment. Eric sang with so much feeling that I couldn't really do anything but stand there and be amazed.
Sting of the bumblebee was performed with much vigor before the "Uber heiss girls" returned with two of their friends for Pleasure Slave. I had wondered how they were going to pull this song off live and the way they chose to do it was absolutely perfect and quite funny.
First Joey came on stage and talked about this girl who had repeatedly written the band that she wanted to ask her boyfriend to marry her on stage. Finally he had caved in and agreed, so he called out the girl who came on stage. Then her guy came out and she rambled off a long letter in German I didn't understand. Then Joey placed the guy in a chair and led the girl off stage as four scantily clad temptresses entered from the left.
They started dancing around the guy and suddenly the mean riff of Pleasure slave burst from the stage. Two of the girls were stripping for the guy while another was swinging around two flaming pieces of rope. Another two were holding flaming rods (of steel?) and constantly spewing gasoline on them so huge flames blew from the stage. It was a pretty impressive sight and a definite highlight of the show. When the song had finished with Eric's resounding laugh, most of the girls were completely naked.
The girl returned to the stage and Joey finished off the ceremony by asking if she would be okay with him fooling around with all those girls and if she would let him rock drink and fuck as he pleased and funnily she replied with a resounding "Yes! Yes that is okay!" Joey then pronounced them Heavy Metal man and wife.
Suddenly a 20 man choir was on the raised part of the back of the stage and they stayed there for the remainder of the show. Kingdom Come was the first song played with the choir. I had a hard time hearing the choir as they were drowned out by the massive sound which was really ok by me, but it felt a bit ehh that I could see them but not hear them. Only by the last and final song did I hear them loud and clear.
Hail and Kill was begun with a splendid intro by Joey and Karl. As the song progressed and went ballistic so did everyone in the crowd.
Everyone around me spoke along to the Warriors Prayer and it was of course followed by one of the songs I had looked most forward to, Blood of the Kings. Just brilliant!
Die With Honor was also performed with the choirs and it was again followed by Warriors of the world which was amazing this night. They played an extended version where everyone in the crowd just kept in choir mode and Eric was having a lot of fun on stage.
Near the end of the show Eric interrupted the beginning of, I think it was Black Wind Fire and Steel and held a small speech. He ran behind the scene to Rhino's drums and picked up a broken cymbal that Rhino had trashed during the show, he then signed it and told everyone that this was for a special person. None other than UDO, "Mr. Metal", the guy who had cut the chain and done a lot of other things on the festival.
Joey started on the frenzied bass intro to Black Wind Fire and Steel and just as Eric was about to sing he stopped the song and said "Sorry I need to get some water" and he ran back stage and after a few seconds emerged again and the song could really begin. Meanwhile Joey had just kept going wild on the bass. Respect!
The song was played and all around me people spent the last of their energy.
Joey came back after much chanting and let the crowd in on some of the things Manowar have planned for the future. By now you have probably heard it, so let me recap as quick as possible. New album to be released in 2009. The album will be played live on next years Magic Circle Festival. In conjunction with the album a book and a video game will be released. The book will be written by German author Wolfgang Hohlbein and will be released in a package with the album. The whole thing will be some kind of fantasy story. Furthermore a movie will be shot and the shooting will begin at the Magic Circle Festival 2009. How all of this is going to work out I have no idea, but it sounds.... well, pretty damn ambitious.
Ending the show was the mother of all majestic Manowar songs, The crown and the ring. This was the highlight of the concert. Special feelings were awakened as Eric sang the song with incredibly clarity and power. Eric's voice has aged like a fine wine. He sang the song in a voice that was just as powerful as on the album, but here, live it had a deeper and fuller body, adding a very special emotion to the experience. It was like his voice embraced you and then pierced flesh and bone as it went straight for the heart. I have never experienced something like this at a concert before and as the stage became a blur I let myself embrace by the song and its powerful emotions as the crowd and choir sang the chorus together.
Completely fulfilling, the song brought the perfect ending to a concert of gigantic proportions.
4 hours of heavy metal ecstasy in three parts were over. After the show I walked around in front of the stage aimlessly, feeling completely exhausted but also filled with an incredible energy at the same time. It was a very special feeling of complete fulfilment that doesn't come along very often. People were hugging each other and the look on everybody's faces was one of peace and joy. Manowar had delivered the show of a lifetime and if someone had looked down upon the festival site from the sky he would have been blinded by the light of ten thousand shining diamonds.
The Magic Circle Festival was a great experience due to the music, the friends and the great atmosphere. Once Manowar took the stage all the organisational shit didn't matter. Music prevailed and I am sure I will be back again next year with the hope that some of the issues I have mentioned above have been improved.
After a tiring 16 hour trip I was home! A looong bath later I fell into my bed and as my head hit the pillow a quick flashback to the two Manowar shows played in my mind. This is one festival I will never forget.
||Click pictures for a bigger version
Waiting for the festival grounds to open
The chain that is to be cut
A lone water post
Warming up for a party
How not to take pictures of Benedictum
Storm clouds on the horizon
The crowd at Doro
The crowd at Gotthard
Rainbow on the horizon
Rainbow on the horizon
All pictures taken by Steen
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Updated: Friday, November 23, 2013 - Added the old article to the site
Thursday, July 24, 2008 - Brian
Surely you could have shown a few more Manowar photographs.
Saturday, July 26, 2008 - Alanna
AHh I love the pictures! You really got some great ones. Doro looks fantastic and the pic of Steve Lee doing some kind of martial arts looking pose is just classic! The rainbow was an incredible touch. Like a thank-you blessing from the sky for Manowar's most awesome musical presence. HOWEVER! Where are the pics of the Pleasure Slave chicks? That's what I wanna know. :P It sounds like the festival was very disorganized. Do you know what happened with Def Leppard AND Whitesnake cancelling? If it was any other festival, something like that would have been crippling, but since the main attract was Manowar it probably didn't have the backlash impact that normally would have followed a fallout like that. I know I would have been disappointed. AND Brazen Abbot not showing up too... that's three of my fav bands right there. Hopefully next year they can get it together and have some backup plans. It sounds like Manowar has a busy year ahead of them... new cd, movie AND video game? Ha you know what's funny though? I mused back.... oh in 1991-1992 somewhere that someone should make a Manowar video game, it would be the perfect setting for a true metal game, taking the lore and lyrics and creating a grand hail and kill action/adventure... though there already IS a metal adventure game in the works called BRUTAL LEGEND that I know Dio is involved in and Jack Black... ah but finally, that seemed like an awesome experience overall. Thanks for the report, always look forward to these. :)
Saturday, July 26, 2008 - Steen
Hey Alanna! Thanks! I got a photo pass which allowed me to take pictures of the first three songs of each show. I did that and then didn't take any more. Personally I hate it when photographers stand in the audience and take pictures, thereby destroying other peoples view. Especially when they have a photopass and should get their pictures during that time in the photo pit. I have experienced many festivals where the photographers run from the photo pit and into the audience and get as good a spot as possible, only to stand there and take hundreds of photos while being oblivious to the music and anything else. It's really annoying and as much as I could have gotten some great shots of the Pleasure slave chicks and trust me, I had the urge to do so, I didn't pull out my camera, for those reasons. But here are a couple of YouTube links to people who recorded the song, so now you can see for yourself! <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xinPRrtFBUg&feature=related">Whole Song</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggQGo0PRcwo">Ending, from the other side</a> All we were told about WS and Def cancellations was "Contractual problems". Actually I found out later that Brazen Abbott had not cancelled. They had switched places with Beloved Enemy and played the next day which I didn't find out before noon that day. Unfortunately I failed to catch them, but they did play. Didn't know about Brutal Legend! Ha! Just watched the trailer. Could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately it's not going to be released for PC. Doh! Brian: I <em>could</em> have added alot more Manowar pictures, but I really didn't want them to take over the entire report.
Sunday, July 27, 2008 - Alanna
Haha, that was a great video, thanks for the link! That's alot of flame blowing considering they aren't wearing much in the way of clothing. I'd be afraid I'd burn myself to a crisp. But that was awesome to watch. I never really thought about the whole photo taking etiquette that should be followed during concerts. Who wants to just take photos through the whole show when you can be watching it? I agree with you though there, and must say again, that the photos you did get were really amazing. And it looks like the concert series was amazing despite the few drawbacks (the lack of water would have really bothered me, that's just shameful). I THOUGHT Brutal Legend was going to be PC bound as well.. most "big" games like that come out on consoles and the PC so they can make as much of their money back as possible, since games now have over $100 million dollar budgets (Grand Theft Auto IV was 100 or over and Final Fantasy XIII has soared to $120 in production costs). So there is still hope yet.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - Revgoomba
Not as many Manowar photos as I would have hoped to see... but great review. I am soooooooo jealous!!!!