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SYMPHORCE tourreport - Cede Dupont telling about life on the road



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WEBCounter by GOWEB    


sunrise in Balingen ©Nico Wobben Messegelände - Balingen (D)
June 27th-28th 2003

This year, for our fourth Bang Your Head, we left at Wednesday night 11.25 pm and drove through the night, which was a great decision. The highways were fairly quiet and we arrived in Balingen literally at the crack of dawn at 5am. The scenery is beautiful out there and it was amazing to see it wake up. Luckily we managed to get on the campsite before it officially opened, so at sunrise we one colorful vehicle:) © Nico Wobben put up our tent, had some breakfast and waited for our French friends to arrive a few hours later. That day we spent with our friends, had some beers (at 8am hehe), watched the campsite fill up with metalheads and some colorful vehicles, tried (and failed) to sleep in the heat, had more beers and toasted to's Brent and Jenni's wedding that day, survived a short but nasty thunderstorm and went to sleep pretty early. Not too bothered by the noise on the campsite we had a good night and in the morning we were ready for the metal:)

Destructor © Nico Wobben FRIDAY

As usual the first day started with an old school metal act, this time the reunited US metal/thrash band DESTRUCTOR. A refreshing start of the day, incl. leather, dogcollars and spikes, although I didn't get the urge to wirl my hair around yet. For the band around Dave Overkill their appearance at the warm-up gig last night, was their first European show!

I believe BITCH was the first band Metal Blade boss Brian Slagel contracted and their EP "Be My Slave" was the first Metal Blade release ever. I wasn't a huge fan back in the 80's but I was curious to see this reunion of the US "bondage-metal" cult Bitch © Nico Wobben band around Betsy Bitch anyway. The hot looks and attitude were still there but most of all her incredible voice!! Oh my dog, I had goosebumps the whole time. Part of the music is a bit too rock'n'roll for me, but Betsy is one of THE best femal metalsingers. In fact, I can't think of anyone better (only Leather came to mind), not counting the gruntgoddesses like Angela or clean non-metal voices. One of the first songs was "Be My Slave" and a pretty good crowd was already singing along with dominatrix Betsy. Other songs were "Leatherbound", "Riding In Thunder", the semi-ballad "Save You From The World" and "Head Banger". "Skull Crusher" was announced as a song about oral sex ("Somebody had to do it, it better be Bitch!") and Betsy was licking a popsicle, but that didn't really look so sensual I'm afraid. More interesting was her whip during "Live For The Whip". Most interesting though was that voice...

Rob Rock © Nico Wobben Talking about voices, there were a lot of amazing and/or legendary singers on this years bill. ROB ROCK is one of those classic singers. Although the show was really good for the fans, it couldn't hold my attention for long (not even just the voice), musically I got really bored. Just a matter of taste I'm afraid, because he definitely brought a great band! Eye-and-ear-catching was without doubt guitarist Rick Renstrom, who has never let his psychical handicap stand in his way to become a well-respected top guitarist!

Amon Amarth © Nico Wobben AMON AMARTH is one of those bands that always kick ass! I love this band although I have only one older CD. Singer Johan Hegg is sooo impressive, vocally as well as his stagepresence - although the attitude seemed more intimidating at the last Wacken fest. Musically it's just an aggressive and powerful death metal rollercoaster that leaves nothing to be desired for and they were the first band to get a really great response from the audience. Even though they play a lot of newer songs (of course), their setlist still includes my favorite "Victorious March"!! /mp/\.jpgm/

As Nico and I both don't care for AXXIS at all, we went to the tent (after Nico made some pics) for a break, some food and shelter from the thunderstorm that was coming up.

When T.N.T. started it was still raining and we decided to skip this as well. All I ever liked was that one song "Seven Seas" which they played towards the end of the set (we could still hear the music). The rest of it was way too commercial as expected and even people who had been looking forward to this show said we did not miss a thing.

Annihilator © Nico Wobben I had to be back for the next band, for it was one of my very favorite bands, ANNIHILATOR - so front row for me!!! ROOOAAAAWWWWK! Just a short set of course, so no "My Precious Lunatic Asylum" nor "Shallow Grave" (weeh), but with the obligatory "Chrystal Ann/Alison Hell", "Never Neverland", "King Of The Kill", Curran starting "The Blackest Day", "Phantasmagoria" and some more. I so loved Joe Comeau with this band, but I have to say that the new kid, Dave Padden, did a great job! He's young and still has to grow into the band and get more experience, but he wasn't shy, had a good attitude and great voice! A bit like Joe's I'd say. Great potential! Visually he could be Jeff's younger brother, so it felt really natural from the first moment he ran onto the stage - he fitted right in. The whole band (with special mention for drummer Randy Black) was amazingly tight (as usual as you can hear on Dokken © Nico Wobben "Double Live Annihilation") and Russ (proudly wearing a Canada t-shirt), Curran and Jeff were their usual crazy selves of course:)

Again a good gig for those who like the style (from what I heard), but boring for me: hardrock legends DOKKEN. I knew a few songs from a live album we have: "Kiss Of Death", "Into The Fire", "Breaking The Chains", "It's Not Love" and "In My Dreams". Can't say anything bad about Don Dokken's voice, nor the overall great musicianship - just not my thing.

More my thing is the old school thrash of SODOM, but due to the sun relentlessly shining on our heads the whole day, I didn't stay to watch the Hammerfall © Nico Wobben whole gig because I desperately needed some shadow and a cold drink. Afterwards I heard mixed reactions, some loved it and others thought it was somewhat uninspired. Anyway, for those who do love this band and want to hear more, keep an eye on the upcoming release of their double-live CD "One Night In Bangkok".

One band I really don't like is HAMMERFALL and this was the first time I actually payed attention to their performance for a while. To be honest I didn't think it was all that bad! Joacim sang very well, the whole band was using the whole stage and posed a lot, esp. bassplayer Magnus and some pyros were used. I enjoyed songs like "Riders Of The Storm" and of course from "Legacy Of The Kings": "Let The Hammer Fall" much more than on CD and the band enjoyed being there. I believe it was Oscar who said it was great to be back in Balingen: "Why? Because it's by far the best festival in Germany!". I wonder what he's gonna say when they play Wacken again??
Dio © Nico Wobben
Up next was The Little Big Guy, the true metalgod (forget that other loser who claims to be one, this is the real deal) - DIO!!! I believe he's 63 and it is amazing how young and energetic he seems and how great his voice still is!! I'm not so familiar with the latest Dio stuff (I know he played "Rock And Roll" and "Killing The Dragon" from the last album), but he also played some oldies like , "Straight Through The Heart", "Stand Up And Shout", "I Speed At Night", "Dream Evil", "Evil Eye", "Last In Line", "We Rock" and "Holy Diver" plus of course some Rainbow and Sabbath classics ("Stargazer", "Man On The Silver Mountain"/"Love Live Rock And Roll"-medley; "Mob Rules", "Heaven And Hell")!! Finally after all these years I've seen The Man, The Myth, The legend live...:)


Hirax © Nico Wobben Katon DePena is as metal as you can be, he rules! He brushed off HIRAX again and that's equivalent to one hell of an energetic show! Katon's running around, posing and firing up the crowd and the rest of the band is just as enthusiastic, playing songs like "Warlords Command", "Destroy", of course "El Diablo Negro", the opener of "Rage And Violence": "Demons - Evil Forces", "Hate, Fear And Power" and even "Bombs Of Death" that was featured on Metal Massacre VI! For one song ex-Virgin Steele guitarist Jack Starr joined the band on stage. One of the highlights of the festival! /mp/\.jpgm/

Hirax' energy made the NWOBHM band ANGELWITCH look a little pale. Maybe that's why I didn't enjoy them as much as in Wacken a few years back. Kevin Heybourne and co did't Masterplan © Nico Wobben have much of a stage presence and all I enjoyed was the popular "You're An Angelwitch".

I didn't see MASTERPLAN on their tour with Hammerfall, nor did I ever see Jorn Lande with one of his other bands, so I really wanted to check this out. And I was not disappointed! Great band, great musicians - and Jorn's voice was just as powerful live! Same for his charisma on stage, much better than I expected even. I don't love all their songs, but I love "Enlighten Me" and "Chrystal Night".

Brainstorm © Nico Wobben BRAINSTORM is expecting a lot of the new album "Soul Temptation" - they had snippet CDs with four tracks + the "Highs Without Lows" video, bottle-openers and beercoasters available at the Metal Blade stand. To help the promotion I made a few rounds through the crowd on both days to distribute some of it, during Masterplan with help of a few friends from the BS forum, Fangface and Cold Gin. Unfortunately Metal Blade wasn't allowed to sell the new CD at the festival because it was two days before the official release date! What a shame, they would've sold a lot of them! But on to the show: they once again confirmed their live-reputation, it was by far my favorite show on this festival together with Twisted Sister!!!!! AWESOME!! The guys were all amazing but most of all Andy,Nico w/Andy (Brainstorm) © Nico Wobben who is running around more and more with each show!! They played three new songs of "Soul Temptation": opener "Highs Without Lows", "Doorway To Survive" and the oriental gem "Shiva's Tears" (first part of the "Trinity Of Lust"-trilogy) where they had three oriental dancers in colorful costumes and masks on stage. Some thought it wasn't very metal, but I thought it was a nice and classy illustration of the song, no cheap erotic thing humping the band or something (or maybe that was the problem? LOL!!). Every 10 minutes or so Andy threw some t-shirts into the audience, made his rounds through the photopit and all corners of the stage and catwalk - now I know why he jogs every day, OMG! I've seen them about 22 times by now but this was just insane and the audience went nuts!

Pink Cream 69 © Nico Wobben Highs Without Lows
Blind Suffering
Crush Depth
Hollow Hideaway
Doorway To Survive
Shiva's Tears
Under Lights

PINK CREAM 69 is too soft for me musically, but what a live band! David Readman is definitely one of the best singers on the festival and they got a big response. I didn't see the whole gig, but I remember they played the oldie "Livin' My Life For You" and "Higher Kind Of Life" from "Electrified".

Peter Tägtgren and his HYPOCRISY were somewhat of an outsider on this bill with their intense death metal, but they got a pretty good response anyway. I'm not familiar Y&T © Nico Wobben with their songs and didn't write any titles down, but it was a killer show!

A huge number of people went towards the stage again when Y&T was about to start, all wondering how they would be after all these years. Well I can tell you they still got it and put up a great show! Dave Meniketti's voice is still as strong and it was obvious the whole band had a blast playing for so many people in Germany again! And even if it's not all my kinda music, I enjoy the classics too of course ("Rescue Me", "I Believe In You"). Some of the other songs were "Hurricane", "Dirty Girl", "Meanstreak" and "Hell And High Water". During "Forever" Dee Snider joined the band for a minute to sing the chorus with them:)

Overkill © Nico Wobben It was special for OVERKILL to be here, after the minor stroke Bobby suffered a year ago, one day before the festival. He said the rumors about his death were highly exaggerated hehehe. It's an always incredible live band, but today it was definitely not my setlist. Not a lot of oldies and "In Union We Stand" is obligatory in their set (just like "Fuck You") but oh how I would have prefered "Powersurge" or "The Electro-Violence" or esp. "Rotten To The Core" over that cheesy song. We did get "Necroshine", "Bastard Nation", "Hammerhead", "Long Time Dyin'", "New Machine", "Supersonic Hate", "Eliminate" and a few more. Bobby was happy to be with his German friends again and specially mentioned his friends of the German fanclub the Skullkrushers. After the show Bobby took a huge dive right into the audience!!
U.D.O. © Nico Wobben
Time for the next veteran, ex-Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider and his band U.D.O. As usual it was a good show starting with "Man And Machine" and "Private Eye" from the last CD if I remember well. They also played some Accept classics ("Metal Heart", "Princess Of The Dawn", "Balls To The Walls").

I'm not a big fan, but it was quite special to see such a legendary band as THIN LIZZY for the first time (just like Dio). When the intro-siren set in people stormed towards the stage (BTW I've never seen so many people over 40 on one festival;)) to see John Sykes and Scott Gorham up close. Sykes is no Lynott but he sings the songs with the same feel. I don't Thin Lizzy © Nico Wobben think I have the complete setlist, but they played "Jailbreak", "Cold Sweat", "Bad Reputation" (dedicated to the new drummer Michael Lee who played with Jimmy Page before), "Killer On The Loose", the ever so beautiful "Still In Love With You", "Are You Ready", "Cowboy Song", "The Boys Are Back In Town" and the encores "Rosalie" and "Black Rose". Sykes dedicated the show (probably as usual) to the "King Of Rock'n'Roll" Phil Lynott.

Time for the headliner and the biggest party of them all: TWISTED SISTER! When Dee fucking Snider enters the stage, he captures the whole festival area in his spell. It was like that when I saw him solo a few times, where he already did a lot of Twisted Sister tunes. Now it was the original band and in full make-up and such, and it was even more impressive!!! All my aches and sore feet were gone during "Under The Blade", "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock"! Between songs Dee would get the rest to sit down on the side of the stage to "hang out with a bunch of (tenthousands!) friends" and more than once he would ask to put a spotlight onTwisted Sister © Nico Wobben the frantic audience which was an incredible sight! After A.J. Pero's drumsolo (where the whole drumstage went up) and "I Wanna Rock" they went off stage and the crowd started chanting "We're Not Gonna Take It" which took us all back to the show two years before that, when the Dee Snider show ended with a thunderstorm and the soaking wet audience left the area chanting that very song over and over again. Some huge balloons with confetti were released to ask the audience to "Come Out And Play" until the band came back for the encores. True headliners of this festival!!

intro: AC/DC's "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)"
What You Don't Know (Sure Can't Hurt You)
The Kids Are Back
Stay Hungry
Like A Knife In The Back
Under The Blade
Twisted Sister © Nico Wobben You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll
I Am (I'm Me)
The Fire Still Burns
Ride To Live, Live To Ride
Shoot 'Em Down
We're Not Gonna Take It
The Price
I Believe In Rock 'n' Roll
Burn In Hell
I Wanna Rock
Come Out And Play

What an amazing ending of two (or actually three) days of metal, sun, beer, water (too hot for much alcohol), sun, two short but sweet thunderstorms, sun, a tan and a bit of sunburn! On to Wacken in 5 weeks!! /mp/\.jpgm/

submitted by Marlies 08.07.2003









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