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SYMPHORCE tourreport - Cede Dupont telling about life on the road



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WEBCounter by GOWEB    


sunset over the camping area © Nico Wobben Messegelände, Balingen (D)
June 25th-26th 2004

The trip to Balingen is always the most beautiful one of all the trips Nico and I make to festivals. We again drove through the night, so we didn't see much of said beauty until we were a lot more south. Again, to see the landscape wake up is so great. We arrived at 4.30am but unfortunately there was no partially opened gate or anything this time, so we really had to wait until the campsite opened. Not far behind us in line, the people were just standing on the very busy main road (we were in the grass next to the road) and already the day before, the police wanted Horst to open up already, but he apparently refused because he's afraid he'll have to open up earlier and earlier each year. I do understand that too, but the situation was way too dangerous for sure. Officially it Dutch metal kids :)  © Nico Wobben would've opened at noon on this thursday, but because of the many people that already had been waiting from the night before, they promised to open up around 8am. So all we could do was take a nap in the car and wait and chat with others. We ran into Evi there and at 8.30 we were finally allowed to enter the camping area, but a few people had just opened the fence out of impatience and many of us already started to carry tents and stuff in to go and secure a spot. Anyway.. we got a good spot and put up our tent, party-tent and saved some space for our friend Markus and Herman and Gregen from the South-African band Shadowlord. They arrived later on the day and we had a blast with them! We chilled for the rest of the day, several friends came by and we went to sleep early enough to start the festival fresh the next day.


Cage © Nico Wobben Fresh, yeah.. I wished too much, because the night was so cold it woke me up several times and I had to put on more clothes. Nevertheless we got up early enough to have a good breakfast and start the day with our Californian friends of CAGE. They have released a couple of excellent CDs, esp. the last one, ''Darker Than Black", that got a lot of maximum scores from press all over the world. But still we haven't seen them much on European soil yet. After Dynamo and Wacken, it was now Bang Your Head's turn to put them on the bill. The San Diego guys opened the festival very powerful with their old-Savatage/Priest type of US metal. Singer Sean Peck is in top shape - but is he doing that Halford pose more often these days or am I just hating (and therefore noticing) it more?? Anyway, great songs like "Shoot To Kill", "Kill The Devil", "Blood Of The Innocent", "Chupacabra", "Wings Of Destruction" and "Final Solution" raise the bar high for the rest of the festival.

Ruffians © Nico Wobben The RUFFIANS got a cult-status with their 1985 self-titled EP, featuring the late Carl Albert (Vicious Rumors) and in 1987 a demo with new singer Rich Wilde got good reviews. They disbanded in 1989 and reunited in 2004 - and here they are in Europe for the first time! As far as I know with the last line-up minus one: the show is dedicated to Carl Albert and the "bassplayer of many years", Dan Mauro, who's not active as a musician anymore. Although no one can match the Tyrant ;), Rich Wilde does remind me of him a lot, both vocally and in stage-presence (even though I could've done without the hip-wiggling LOL). Really good show with songs like "Fight For Your Life","Running Blind", "Do Or Die", "Desert of Tears" and "Eyes Of Fire". The set closes with another song off the EP: "Run For Cover".

Shok Paris © Nico Wobben SHOK PARIS, the band around singer Vic Hix, is again an 80's cult band. They are here in the original line-up, except for Eric Marderwald, Aftershok guitarist George Mihalovich is helping the band out. Vic's voice is raw and powerful but their songs don't really grab me, except the title-track and "Chosen One" (with some cool, driven double bass) of the first album "Go For The Throat". Certainly not a bad gig though, don't get me wrong. Just a matter of taste, but the band and their fans sure had a good time!

Kingdom Come © Nico Wobben I've always had a soft spot for Lenny Wolf's characteristic voice, so I was looking forward to seeing KINGDOM COME again! Well, I did get to see them, but not hear a lot of Lenny's voice. He explained that he had a bad cold or flu and had the choice to either cancel the gig, or to say "hey cool to see all of you again". He said he chose "hey cool to see all of you again" and hoped that was OK with us. Now that's the spirit! And the audience sympathized with that. Because he's singing in the higher ranges of his voice in most of the songs, he gets stuck all the time :/ Luckily he's able to joke about (what else can you do) and repeatedly excused himself. They played some older songs like "Should I", "Always On The Run" and "Only Rainbows Know" and several of his latest release "Independent": "I Can Feel It", "Mother", "Do You Dare". "Didn't Understand". Unfortunately not my favorite song from the very first album, "What Love Can Be", but I guess it wouldn't have been asBlaze © Nico Wobben dreamy with the state Lenny's voice was in anyway. Not a really good show vocally, but the guys were just happy to be there and did their very best to entertain us as good as possible. And that deserves respect!

BLAZE is always a joy on a festival I think. I hope he by now has proven to all the sceptics to be a good singer as long as he keeps to his own material, written for his own voice. Songs like "Kill And Destroy", "Silicon Messiah" or "Ten Seconds" are popular with the crowd and the performance of the whole band is good and enthusiastic as usual. Of course he also plays something (the titletrack) from the new album "Blood & Belief" and the Iron Maiden song "Man On The Edge"!

Primal Fear © Nico Wobben Rock Antenne's Thomas Moser introduced the band around Mat Sinner & Ralf Scheepers, PRIMAL FEAR. The band just got home from a successful US & South-American tour, but luckily this festival is close to home for them. The band's obviously very popular and there were many thousands of people watching and cheering. I'm not a fan at all and badly needed a break from the sun, but in the pressarea we were all singing along to their latest anthem.. "Metal Is Foreveeeer, Foreveeeeeeeeeeer!" :)
Anthrax © Nico Wobben
New York thrashlegends ANTHRAX were in great shape. Or should I call them Armored Anthrax or Anthrax Saint now, because Joey Vera joined to play bass instead of long-LONG-time member Frank Bello, who left recently. If you have ever seen them, or Armored Saint, before, you'll know what a great frontman and singer John Bush is - today was of course no exception. Still touring for their "We've Come For You All" CD (I guess they still don't have us all yet ;)), they played a bunch of songs of that album, but also classics like "EFILNIKUFESIN", "Get The Time", "Anti-Social", "Madhouse" and "Indians". Unless I'm terribly mistaken, Children Of Bodom © Nico Wobben no "I'm The Man" though!

The very popular CHILDREN OF BODOM is a band I've tried to get into, but it just won't work. I love Alexi's stage presence, but his screaming voice gets on my nerves pretty quick and the music is too happy-power for me. Not a combination I like, but still I was looking forward to see them live again, hoping to hear them with a better sound than at the Dynamo Open Air two years ago. But no such luck. The sound seemed too loud and distorted again, thus getting on my nerves again. Still a cool band to look at, but musically I give up - it's apparently not for me.

Gotthard © Nico Wobben I went for shelter against the sun during the COB set, because I honestly didn't feel too good. Time for shade, rest, shade and water (did I mention shade?) and I didn't see the Swiss melodic rockers of GOTTHARD. As far as I could still hear it, it sounded good and esp. singer Steve Lee turned out to be one of the very best. I guess the best description I can offer you is quoting a grinning Andy of Brainstorm: "Woah, they were awesome, simply awesome. They could've continued for two more hours if it were up to me!".

Queensryche © Nico Wobben Next up one of the most anticipated bands of the festival, QUEENSRYCHE, for word was out that they'd play the whole "Operation Mindcrime" album!! Screw the later, mellow and (to me) boring albums, the old stuff is all I want to hear from them. Funny enough, the one time I did see them before, was on the "Operation Mindcrime" tour! Sister Mary was performed by another singer back then, but for this tour it was the original voice, Pamela Moore, who was on stage with Geoff! Incredible performance of Pamela, the band and I guess of Geoff too, but his voice wasn't nearly as strong as it Pamela Moore on stage with Queensryche © Nico Wobben used to be unfortunately! He occasionally had a hard time hitting the high notes, but his charisma didn't change.. when he first came up in his cool and calm way and went on the catwalk to present himself, I got goosebumps. And boy it was a feast to indeed hear the whole "Operation Mindcrime" album live! Only one extra song was played at the end of it all, the hit "Take Hold Of The Flame". Even though I was secretly hoping to hear something really old like "The Lady Wore Black", it was a good ending for this, despite the vocal disappointment, pretty special show.

Alice Cooper © Nico Wobben I pretty much only know his hit songs, so I was curious to see the legend ALICE COOPER at work. As the 56-year old walked up on the stage and directly onto the catwalk, I got goosebumps for a moment (yeah again ;)). The show was less spectacular than I expected. Not a lot of blood and horror as in the old days, but therefore an enthusiastic band and in between the newer songs (like "Man Of The Year", "Between High School & Old School" and "What Do You Want From Me") they also played a lot of oldies like "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Billion Dollar Babies", "Eighteen", "Only Women Bleed", "School's Out" and "Poison". Nice to see that he even got "Who Do You Think We Are" out of the closet. A song he didn't play live since 1982. His daughter Calico took Alice's wife's place in 2004 and every now and then enlightened the stage with her beauty. She even dared to fight a bunch of tough guys. But, Alice wouldn't be Alice if he wouldn't slash his own daughter's throat with his sword. When the last tone of "Under My Wheels" came out of dad, everyone was exhausted, except for my friend and huge Majesty © Nico Wobben Coop-fan Jan (who also was so kind to help me with this) and ol' Alice!


MAJESTY, the German answer to Manowar, had the honor to wake up the hungover metalheads again. And they did that damn well, I must say! It's still very empty on the festival area, but in front of the stage a for this time of day unusual big and dense flock of fans got together to raise their fists and howl along at the top of their lungs with the epic war- and metalanthems, like during the epic highlight "Swords And Scorcery" and "We Are The Metal Law" /mp/\.jpgm/

Ballistic © Nico Wobben I had been looking forward to the European debut of BALLISTIC for months! The band of Tom Gattis, who we still know from Deuce, Tension and/or Wardog, brought us pure, thrashy US metal, a kind of fierce Overkill with blistering solos. Not in the last place because of the characteristic voice of Gattis, who doesn't sing whole shows anymore because of health reasons (in Balingen he only sang the Tension classic "Wrecking Crew"). For a while Jag Panzer's Harry Concklin would come along to Balingen (after all his JP-buddy Rikard Stjernquist also drums with Ballistic), but he had to cancel and Gattis got the Twisted Tower Dire frontman Tony Taylor in. So for a moment I was worried how the songs would come out with this terrific, but cleaner singer (compared to Gattis). Well, he was awesome! The hyperactive bundle of muscles was all over the place and sang so easily in the meantime it was scary. Songs like "Collision Course", "Watch Me do It", "Undefeated", "Threshold Of Pain" and the "hit" "Call Me Evil" were superbly done, so two thumbs up! Angel © Nico Wobben

From ANGEL I always only liked the well-known song "Tower" off the 1975 debut album and that's a real rock classic too! And guess what, like back in the day, they started their set with it! Because I'm not too crazy about the rest of their material (like "Can You Feel It", "Feeling Right Tonight"), it got kinda dull for me after that, even when the band played a heavy and tight set. I gotta say that it was nice to see everyone on stage in white for a change and I was astonished that Frank DiMino (next to drummer Barry Brandt the only one of the original line-up) still had an immensly powerful voice - absolutely one of the best singers of the festival!

Omen © Nico Wobben No one could really replace the meanwhile deceased J.D. Kimball, but with Kevin Goocher at the mike OMEN have got a nice candidate. The band around Kenny Powell wanted to promote the new album "Eternal Black Dawn", that goes back a bit more to the old days of glory, and played the titlesong and "1000 Year Reign", but of course they can't avoid to play the classics like "The Axeman", "Teeth Of The Hydra"Lillian Axe © Nico Wobben and of course "Battle Cry". This is a band that comes across much better in a club, like the night before at the WOM, where the audience also got "Bounty Hunter".

Just a little while ago he was still on stage with Angel, after Omen Steve Blaze came back with his own band LILLIAN AXE. A little too melodic for my taste (though performed heavier than I expected), but the fans loved songs like "All's Fair In Love And War", "The World Stopped Turning" and "Misery Loves Company" and the band got a lot of response. Unfortunately the last gig with the (original) singer Ron Taylor!

Death Angel © Nico Wobben If one reunion of the past years has been a success, it's the great resurrection of DEATH ANGEL! We've seen it all at the Dynamo and now with the new album "The Art Of Dying" in their pocket the Californian boys showed fans and other bands something else! Next to the strong songs, old as well as new, it's of course most of all the unrestrained energy that drove them right back at the top of the live-scene again - still as intense as in the 80s! Off the new CD that they're justly very proud of, they played Death Angel © Nico Wobben several songs (opener "Thrown To The Wolves", "Thicker Than Blood", "The Devil Incarnate"), but naturally the classics weren't missing either: "Voracious Souls", "Disturbing The Peace", "Evil Priest", "Bored", "Stagnant", "Seemingly Endless Time" and of course the ultimate hit "Kill As One"! Obviously I wasn't the only one going crazy on that one: when saying goodbye the band got down on their knees for the audience. After that Horst and some more people from the organisation tried to tell and show something on the catwalk, but the crowd kept chanting for Death Angel for at least 15 more minutes (!). Totally amazing!

Magnum © Nico Wobben Time to chill with the beautiful, symphonic rock of the English MAGNUM, that was already on the bill in 2002, but had to cancel when guitarist Tony Clarkin had a heartattack. This band also played a powerful and solid set, but unfortunately without songs from "Chase The Dragon", the only album that I know myself. From the new CD "Brand New Morning" they played the titletrack. Maybe old-farts-music to some, but that was pretty enjoyable right after the Death Angel-attack.

Nico headbanging during UFO :) © Marlies Wobben Some real old-farts-rock came from Phil Mogg and his men from UFO! Once the band with a young Michael Schenker, now Vinnie Moore is stealing the show with his shredding. UFO © Nico Wobben Most (or all?) songs were from "Strangers Of The Night", very recognizable! Who of us oldies wouldn't know "Mother Mary", "Let It Roll", "This Kids", "Only You Can Rock Me", "Love To Love", "Too Hot To Handle", "Lights Out", "Rock Bottom" and "Doctor Doctor"?? Tears were being wiped away around me, honest.

They still exist, the old fashioned posers! Seen it with my own eyes... This one was called SEBASTIAN BACH and fair is fair, he can still sing and scream! Entertain too, even though it was all a bit over the top. Wildly swinging the microphone around, Sebastian Bach © Nico Wobben stamping, headbanging, ranting and raving when someone in the front apparently challenged him. Musically Mr. Bach obviously still totally lives on Skid Row, because I knew almost all the songs. It started with "Slave To The Grind"and also "Big Guns", "Piece Of Me", "Frozen", "Here I Am", "Thread", "18 And Life", "Sweet Little Sister", "Monkey Business", "I Remember You" and "Youth Gone Wild" passed by. I called Tim in Canada to let him hear his favorite singer, for a few minutes, that was funny :) Driven set and I wonder if they had to carry off any fainting girls.

Testament © Nico Wobben Half an hour late, the Bay Area thrashers of TESTAMENT came on stage. Because Eric Peterson broke his leg, the recently departed (to Nevermore) Steve Smyth jumped in to help out and together with "Metal Mike" Chlasciak some fine guitarwork was being fired at the crowd, as usual from Testament, or maybe even better. Chuck was also in great shape and roared songs like "Low", "True Believer", "Into The Pit"and "Over The Wall"in the microphone, during the last song, for a change, without asking fans to come up on the stage! Everyone was surprised when during the last song, "Practice What You Preach", the PA sound suddenly got turned off! They finished the song (over the backline only) and Chuck didn't understand what was going on. Neither did we! Later on we heard that the set had to be cut off and the tourmanager didn't tell that to the band. But even then I don't understand why they couldn't have turned off the sound right after the song, that would've been more symphathetic to the fans and would've saved the organisation a lot of boo-ing.

Iced Earth © Nico Wobben I had already prepared myself for the possibility of ICED EARTH being the anti-climax of the festival. Already when the rumors were going around last year of Tim "Ripper" Owens being the possible new singer, I knew that the band I cherished for so long would be lost. Not only because I would miss Matt Barlow, but mostly because I think Ripper is a bad replacement, since he's the kind of singer that puts technique over emotion. So I saw a whole different band on stage than the one I knew and loved so well. The new songs like the Gettysburg trilogy were pretty heavy live (I'm not too crazy about the CD) and more aggressive songs like "Sinner"were performed OK as well, but when he tried to sing "Melancholy", I could have cried! That man takes all the emotion out!! To my surprise they played the whole Something Wicked trilogy (apart from a cool scream again a vocal desaster for me). During the Gettysburg trilogy the set came to life a bit more (the canons on each side of the stage went off, there were fire columns and sparkle showers), but that was about it, visually. They seemed to enjoy themselves a bit more than in 2002, but it didn't come across too enthusiastic either and the catwalk wasn't even used as far as I've seen. Still there were people who became a fan exactly now because of Owens and the response of the audience surely was there... but my heart was broken :(

with Tom Gattis of Ballistic © Marlies Wobben Despite a broken heart I'm looking back on yet again a great festival with great weather (again too much sun, but as long with Mike G. and Anthony of Cage © Marlies Wobben as you don't get any rain, you can't really complain!), great people (special hello for this edition to Anthony McGillis and the rest of our Cage buddies, Ted "no Kill As One!" Aguilar and Tom "old fart" Gattis ;)) and an overall great fucking time! :) Kudos to the organisation and see ya next year! :)

submitted by Marlies 11.07.2004









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