As is becoming an annoying tradition of late, the traffic over the Pennines to Manchester was ridiculous, and this coupled together with an early door time meant that I arrived at the Academy with Hammerfall in full flow.
On entering the Academy I was hit with a wall of bodies, it was well and truly packed but I really didn’t expect anything less with there being just two dates on this epic power metal tour with two of the heavyweights of the genre in attendance.
The stage was gloriously lit and was littered with generous stage props. There was a huge shield and an even bigger hammer on each wing of the stage and there were steps and platforms strategically placed around the stage which all of the band made full use of and frequently adopted them in order to throw your typical rock poses whilst shredding the fretboards with overflowing speed and finesse.
The set was constructed with a wide variety of back catalogue material and the set spanned across a massive selection of the Hammerfall history books with most albums unfortunately only getting one representative hammered home to the jam-packed Academy crowd.
Mid set, Cans told a tale of their merch being stuck somewhere in transit, hence there being no specific Hammerfall merch on sale tonight, just the dual branded United Forces shirt, which by all accounts was flying over the merch stand like no ones business.
The band flew around the stage as if their lives depended on it, the speakers demanded that the crowd accompany them in delivering each word to the tunes with passion and pride. The crowd tonight was loud, almost drowning the band out at times, ‘Let The Hammer Fall’ generating probably the biggest vocal effort from the Manchester collective tonight.
Cans negotiated the stage with ease, covering every inch of it in order to seemingly interact with every single member of the packed crowd, and each body within the sweaty confines loved every single moment of these swedes visit the northwest. A euphoric success of a set with an imminent return to our lands firmly placed at the top of everyones wish list.
As the stage was stripped and the lights dimmed, there was once again one hell of a roar from the amassed contingency in the Academy. ‘Orbit’ was pumped out of the speakers and the crowd stirred into a frenzy, we were then treated to the live premier of ‘Skyfall’ from ‘Helloween’ and the whole place erupted. The set was packed with classics sitting alongside live premiers throughout the full set. ‘Eagle Fly Free’ sat alongside ‘Mass Pollution’, ‘Dr Stein’ sat alongside ‘Best Time’, and while the ‘classics’ such as ‘I Want Out’, ‘Future World’ and ‘Dr Stein’ will undoubtedly always get the biggest roars and more passionate singalongs, the premiers didn’t do bad tonight with massive crowd appreciation. Grosskopf stalked the stage, pumpkin bass in hand, while the strings of Weikath, Hansen and Gerstner acted as conductors to the assembled congregation.
The amount of faded pumpkin shirts in attendance tonight is testament to the popularity of these Germanic pumpkin inspired power metal behemoths and we were blessed that they selected Manchester as one of only two shows on UK soil on this colossal touring package. That being said, the assembled masses did not disappoint with their efforts which they threw back at the stage. it was impressive and astounding in equal measures.
The stage competently housed the seven members tonight, each one of them commanding the stage with authority and dedication, reaching out to the crowd for more and more participation as they delivered a near note perfect set from start to finish, each member brought a unique personality to the stage, and to the songs being gifted to the crowd on this near sell out date. The vocals from Kiske and Deris were near perfect, the two of them brought their own unique stance on the vocal style yet transitioned between the tracks with pure ease. Hansen also threw his own vocal effort into the mix as well as working his guitar duties with ease.
Each member of Helloween tonight had put in a monumental effort and created a spectacle of a show which everyone who was witness to will surely agree, it was magical and a feat which needs to be repeated with little delay. It was far from ‘A Tale That Wasn’t Right’