20th January 2009
Grave Digger, Alestorm & Taletellers
The band GRAVE DIGGER is definitely one of the founding fathers among the German Heavy Metal scene. Screamer Chris Boltendahl and his troops have always been an especially creative part of the business, as they can look back on an eventful career that started in 1980. On 9th January 2009, they released their latest album ‘Ballads of a Hangman’. The sixth concert of the ‘Hangman’-Tour (that will lead them through Europe from January to March) took place in the Colos-Saal in Aschaffenburg on 20th January 2009.
The Colos-Saal is a renowned club and famous for great alternative music beyond the mainstream. Located downtown in the picturesque city of Aschaffenburg, the club is able to come up with an impressive list of about 5,000 artists who have already played there. True to the motto “Satisfaction or money back”, the hard-working Colos-Saal’s crew uses a mark of quality named “For Real Music Lovers” that guarantees a high standard of the chosen artists. Thus, it is impossible to imagine the Lower Main area cultural scene without this club. It was a cold and misty evening when I arrived at the venue. Just in time, I entered the almost empty hall at 7 pm. Due to the fact that it was a usual workday, more people should arrive later. Showing some entertaining videos of artists who will perform at the Colos-Saal within the next months, there was a screen hung up above the centre of the stage.
A merchandise stand offered everything the fan’s heart desires. Gradually, more and more fans came into the hall, many of them wearing GRAVE DIGGER-tour shirts and obviously long-time enthusiasts of the German Heavy Metal-legend. I talked to some guys right next to me who had travelled a pretty long way from Pforzheim to Aschaffenburg. They seemed to be huge fans, as they mentioned that they are going to attend the upcoming concert in Ludwigsburg, too.
Time flew like an arrow and the first support act TALETELLERS entered the stage at 8 pm. The four German guys formed their band in 2005 and represent a style that combines Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Trash Metal. As well as the Scots ALESTORM, they support GRAVE DIGGER on the ‘Hangman’-Tour. Firstly, they received a restrained reception. The fast pieces, for example ‘Bad Motherfucker’ or ‘Ride the Peril’, were taken from the debut album ‘Detonator’ that was released in 2008. By and by, the venue filled up with people and the atmosphere improved proportionally. After about 30 minutes, the band left the stage receiving friendly applause.
Total: 6.8 / 10
After a short break, it was ALESTORM’s turn. The band from Scotland had been eagerly awaited by quite a lot of people, and so they were welcomed in an enthusiastic way. Accordingly, it was not surprising that the word-perfect audience was able to sing along loudly. Meanwhile, the hall was packed. However, there was not any crush and it was a nice atmosphere. Founded in 2004, ALESTORM describe their style as “True Scottish Pirate Metal”.
Music & Performance
Actually, they can’t deny the Scottish roots. The set contained pieces taken from their albums ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’. Their songs are about seafaring, drinking and chanting. The keyboard, the shrilling vocals and fast guitar sounds guaranteed a kind of melodiousness. Guitarist Dani Evans even wore a kind of kilt, whereas two of his band mates were topless. Buckled on his keyboard and with his squawking voice, lead singer Christopher Bowes cheered the crowd to sing along the songs, for example ‘Over the Seas’, ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’ and ‘Wolves of the Sea’. I have felt well-entertained for those 45 minutes, although ALESTORM’s music is not that varied. But if you want to chant and to party, you will enjoy yourself.
Total: 7.3 / 10
Although I own several albums, I have to admit that the concert was my first GRAVE DIGGER-live experience. As you can imagine, I was very curious about the band’s performance and the chosen songs. After ALESTORM had finished, some roadies appeared on stage and removed the support acts’ instruments. So I got a glimpse on the impressive GRAVE DIGGER’s stage setting. There were two scary skulls drawn on the glittering drum kit that looked very stylish, as well as the huge skull-wallpaper behind the drums. The set change only took some minutes. When a roadie finally placed a sheet of paper (the setlist) on the floor, I prepared myself for the beginning of the show.
Music & Performance
When the lights went off, the audience yelled and started to bang the heads. The band entered the stage joined by a fantastic light show and the sound of the ‘Hangman’-intro which turned into the first song ‘Ballad of a Hangman’. Lead singer Chris Boltendahl welcomed the crowd with a “Good evening, Aschaffenburg!” He thanked all the people who had come to the concert and ordered everybody to show and clap the hands. When he mentioned that GRAVE DIGGER played in Aschaffenburg for the first time, a fan told him that he had seen the band live on stage in Aschaffenburg in 1994. Due to this information, Boltendahl smiled and amended himself by explaining that those days had been a bit nebulous. He repeated his welcome greeting and added sarcastically how nice it would be to play for the second time in Aschaffenburg. Of course, that situation raised a laugh.
The excellent light show and the band’s performance matched perfectly. Manni Schmidt and Thilo Herrmann showed a lot of action playing their guitars. As it was the sixth concert and therefore one of the recent tour’s first days, the singer’s voice was forceful and quite clear. The whole band seemed to enjoy the concert, as they smiled a lot and stroke a pose for the photographers. Unfortunately, “the reaper” (Hans Peter Katzenburg) took a seat nearly behind the stage, so I couldn’t hardly watch him playing the keyboard. The following songs ‘The Dark of the Sun’ and ‘Hell of Disillusion’ put the crowd in the mood for singing along; absolutely everybody around me went wild. Though I was busy with taking photos, I got “infected” by the great mood. In my opinion, the songs were really catchy and melodic in consideration of the dark lyrics. There was a guy in the first row who seemed to know the albums inside out, as he was able to complete Boltendahl’s announcements concerning the upcoming song. He attracted the master’s attention and was acknowledged with a special applause because of his knowledge.
GRAVE DIGGER pleased their fans by playing the recent songs as well as several older pieces taken from former albums. For example, ‘The Middleage Trilogy’ was considered as well as ‘Rheingold’ and ‘Liberty or Death’, so it was easy to get a general idea of the band´s range of work, even as a GRAVE DIGGER-newbie. It was conspicuous that the band remained true to themselves; their sound didn’t change in a profound way. Due to the fact, I would like to compare them with bands such as AC/DC or Motörhead who also work true to the motto “Stick to what you know.” From my point of view, the crowd was especially heated up by ‘Silent Revolution’, ‘Valhalla’, ‘Excalibur’ and the recent single ‘Pray’ which is a really catchy song that asks for chanting. After they had played 16 songs, the band left the stage to come back again for all in all three encores. They finished for good with one of their oldest songs ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’ from the debut album of the same name and left a happy and totally exhausted crowd. To arrive at the conclusion, I was deeply impressed by the GRAVE DIGGER-show and enjoyed it very much.
01. Ballad of a Hangman
02. The Dark of the Sun
03. Hell of Disillusion
04. Wedding Day
05. Witch Hunter
07. Silent Revolution
09. The Last Supper
10. Headbanging Man
11. The House
12. Knights of the Cross
13. My Blood will live forever
17. The Reaper
19. Heavy Metal Breakdown
Total: 8.8 / 10
All pictures by Katrin Renner (http://www.creavision-webdesign.de/).