Rock Hard Festival 2008
A few weeks back we urged you to visit this small festival in Gelsenkirchen and now it’s time for a little review. Due to other commitments I could only attend the festival on Sunday but nevertheless you should get a little insight on what makes this event different from others.
First of all the RHF only hosts around 6000 people and is has a much friendlier atmosphere than the huge festivals like Wacken:Open:Air or Rock am Ring. A few minutes after Terry and I arrived at the location, we met the first metal-heads from Luxembourg, and after a few hours at the festival we had met most of the Luxembourgian RHF attendees. The first band we saw was Sieges Even a progressive rock band from Germany. They had a decent sound and delivered a powerful show. It really showed that they genuinely enjoyed themselves while playing this gig, which in my opinion is always a good point. Especially the bass player managed to impress with his technically very developed skills. Next up was Jorn, the new project of the former Masterplan singer Jørn Lande. Considering the enormous talent of Jorn (the singer) it was disappointing to hear the pretty standard hard rock music backing him up. The band rocked, but that’s all they did, they certainly didn’t amaze me. Terry and I took a little break to buy some CDs and we were back in time to see the final song of Volbeat before Paradise Lost were supposed to have the stage. So the only thing I can really say about Volbeat is that I thought their singer sounded a lot like Hetfield.
Paradise Lost, one of the two reasons I visited the festival in the first place, were, to put it nicely, awful. The sound was horrible, the singer off-key and Greg Mackintosh’s lead guitar parts often sounded like they were superimposed. It could be that this was entirely the sound technicians fault, but to me it seemed like the members of Paradise Lost were either drunk or didn’t give a damn about this concert at all. There was no chemistry between the band and the audience and the band was standing in place like they were rooted to the floor. This is the 20 year anniversary tour and as such the set list was amazing. They were playing songs from all their major records including jewels like: Gothic, One Second, Say Just Words etc. Too bad the sound was very poor and the band was uninvolved.
Before the festival ended with the long awaited concert of the headlining band, Götz Kühnemund the editor in chief of the Rock Hard magazine used the opportunity to thank the security team and the fans for an amazing festival. At this point he also introduced the two winners of the karaoke challenge, who then performed the songs they won with together with the cover band Rokken. A few stars also joined in and they played some covers of popular songs. (Lande singing Breaking the Law by Priest etc.)
Then Kühnemund introduced Iced Earth and the crowd immediately started chanting “Matthew Barlow”. During the Framing Armaggeddon tour Jon Schaffer was approached by many fans, complaining about Owens’s performance of the pre-A Glorious Burdon songs. Later that year Schaffer asked Barlow if he would want to return if they would alter their tour habits accordingly and Matt agreed. It was clear why most of the people in the front rows had come to the festival that night; Matt’s return was one of the best news in recent metal magazines. Let me recapture a few moments from yesterdays show. The concert started with “Dark Saga” (watch the video I recorded below) and from the first strophe onwards one thing was clear: Iced Earth are BACK! Matt Barlow’s singing has improved over his time of absence, be it due to his experiences he gained while playing with Pyramaze, or due to massive rehearsing. The set list was also pretty versatile including songs from almost every album. Barlow’s baptism of fire was the performance of the songs “Declaration Day” and “Ten Thousand Strong”. I was glad to hear that he managed to sing both songs without any difficulties. He adapted Owens’s higher pitched vocals but still gave them the typical Barlow-feel. A small highlight was the song “Dracula” because it’s not one of their regular live pieces. With “Iced Earth” as a final song the band left the stage, leaving the audience with a big fat smile on their faces. It’s good to know that such an amazing band is still as good as they were years ago. I really can’t await the new record! (Which will of course be reviewed right here!) The new single will be released on June 16th and I’ll take a look for you to let you know what you can expect.
Until then: Stay Heavy!
~ by cnspiracy on May 12, 2008.