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HELLOWEEN In Worcester, MA With Photos!

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Monday, September 17, 2018 @ 6:35 AM


"The Pumpkins United World Tour" At The Worcester Palladium September 14th, 2018

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All Photos By George Dionne

On the 1993 HELLOWEEN album Chameleon, singer Michael Kiske sang the lyric line "Music is like sunrise for me". That is what the band's concert at the Worcester Palladium on Friday September 14th felt like to me. A glorious sunrise revealing the beauty of the day, which in this case was the band's music.

I hadn't seen HELLOWEEN since they were the middle act on the original Headbanger's Ball tour. Kai Hansen had only recently left the band and I'd obviously never seen Andi Deris as the band's frontman either.

But after years of acrimony, the hatchets have seemingly been buried and the Pumpkins United tour brought together the disparate factions of the band, and the fan base which included both myself and my concert buddy George packed the Palladium to see the 2nd to last stop on the North American portion of the tour.

With no opening bands, singers Michael Kiske and Andi Deris, guitarists Kai Hansen, Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Dani Loble hit the stage and just completely killed it for the full 2 hour and 45 minute performance.

With just the bottom half of what would seem to be a carved out pumpkin in front of the drum riser, the stage set up was minimal by design. However, the video screen background was active all night long and rivaled IRON MAIDEN's set up for how intertwined it was with the show. (OK, I could've done without the "Seth & Doc" animated vignettes but otherwise the video screen did serve to fully enhance the actual live performance.)

Taking the stage by storm with their 13 minute epic "Halloween", HELLOWEEN captured the audience from the start. Both Kiske and Deris switched off vocals for the song as well as the following "Dr. Stein", which saw the crowd sining the opening verse on their own before Kiske actually started his own vocal performance. I have to say that it was quite the thrilling experience for me to see the full "Halloween" song performed. When I saw HELLOWEEN on May 4th, 1989 it was a 6 song set and this song was not in the set list.

After the first two songs, the two singers would swap out to perform a song or two alone with the rest of the band before giving way to the other. This made for a smooth transition and gave both Kiske and Deris their own time in the spotlight. Before the third song there was a little bit of a comedic break as Kiske and Deris tried to figure out how to properly pronounce "Worcester". Let's just say that Abbott & Costello needn't be worried. Though the tour has been going on for a while now, I was still struck by just how seamlessly everything seemed to go. The band interacted well onstage, though both George and I seemed to think the chumminess was a bit forced, but I suppose that could be our own natural cynicism.

I loved getting to see Andi Deris live for the first time. I've always stuck with the band so I have all their albums with both he and Kiske as the singer and Deris has just as many great songs to his resume as Kiske. I loved his rendition of "If I Could Fly".

The playful side of HELLOWEEN, aside from what was up on the video screen, really started to come out on "Perfect Gentleman", which saw Andi Deris perform in a top hat and fancy walking stick.

The concept of the "Pumpkins United" tour didn't just focus on the two main singers either. Kai Hansen took the lead vocal spot for the trip back to the earliest days with "Starlight", "Ride The Sky", "Judas" and "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)". This was pretty interesting to witness; the band in its initial harder edged days. While Hansen is not on the same level as Kiske or Deris as a vocalist, I think it was a pretty smart move having him take the lead for these songs. After all, it was a celebration of the entirety of HELLOWEEN and Hansen was their first vocalist.

The crowd actually broke out into a small pit during this part of the show and one guy did some crowd surfing. Later on, one idiot tried to stage dive but given how far the barrier was from the stage, he didn't quite make it and I'm sure he woke up rather sore the next day.

Given the all out aggressively energetic pace of the show to this point, Michael Kiske asked the crowd if we would be "OK" with the band performing a ballad. He noted that Michael Weikath wrote the song and HELLOWEEN launched into "A Tale That Wasn't Right".

Now halfway through their set, the band performed their reunion song "Pumpkins United", which was perfectly cast to get the audience amped back up again. I'd purposely avoided hearing the song until now and while this type of song has the potential to be highly cheesy, I found myself quite entertained by the track which featured all three singers taking a vocal turn. I should mention that the performances from the guitarists were outstanding. Hansen, Weikath and Gerstner each had their individual moments to shine during the show and transitioned to lead or rhythm for the others easily. Meanwhile, Markus Grosskopf was a maniac on the bass all night long.

The band left the stage after this song, leaving Dani Loble to perform a drum solo. While this might've been time for a bathroom break or something given how bored I get during instrumental solos, it was a good thing I stayed to watch because it wasn't simply a solo from Loble. The band also worked in a video tribute to their late drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg amidst Loble's solo. It was a nice touch keeping with the reunion theme and left the crowd chanting "Ingo, Ingo".

The switching up of singers Kiske and Deris continued as "Livin' Ain't No Crime" (which was done only partially) and the killer "A Little Time" featured the former and then Deris followed up with great renditions of "Sole Survivor" (the first song he recorded with the band) and the outstanding "Power".

The main set closed out with all three singers pulling out all the stops for an electricfying "How Many Tears". One of the best parts of the show for me on a personal level was getting to be involved in the "Happy Happy Halloween" chant as we waited for the band come back for what ended up being two encores. The first encore was focused on Kiske with "Eagle Fly Free" and a majestic performance of "Keeper Of The Seven Keys". Andi Deris came out late in the latter song to provide vocals as well. You can cross another line off my musical bucket list after seeing HELLOWEEN perform "Halloween" and "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" in concert. The adrenaline flowing not just through me, but the entire crowd, was palpable.

The band's 2nd encore kicked off with what was billed as a guitar solo, but in reality it was more of a band instrumental that lead into the sensational "Future World" track with Kiske singing. As the song finished, the band wasted no time as everything that had come before reached it's crescendo finale with "I Want Out". It was the ceremonial final lap for the show as the band and crew kicked and threw giant balloons emblazoned with the carved eyes of a pumpkin out into the by now whipped into a senses overloaded fervor crowd. While I did see one guy leaving with an intact balloon, the rest never survived the beach ball like atmosphere of being punched around the concert floor.

The closing strains of "I Want Out" brought about the band's final bow to an ever appreciative crowd. There are videos of the show all over Youtube, but you really just had to be there to fully appreciate this magnificent undertaking by HELLOWEEN. The show may have been nearly three hours long but you found yourself still wanting more while simultaneously realizing that you'd just been witness to a band at peak performance and what is likely to be a once in a lifetime event.

I don't know what's to come with the band after this tour is over. There are reports of a live release in 2019 and a potential studio album in 2020. I guess we'll all just have to wait and see but I do know that while the sun may have long since set outside as the concert ended that night, Michael Kiske was right. For on this night, the music of HELLOWEEN was indeed like the sun was high in the sky throughout. The Pumpkins were indeed UNITED!

SET LIST:

  • "Halloween"
  • "Dr. Stein"
  • "I'm Alive"
  • "If I Could Fly"
  • "Are You Metal?"
  • "March Of Time"
  • "Perfect Gentleman"
  • "Starlight" / "Ride The Sky" / "Judas"
  • "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)"
  • "A Tale That Wasn't Right"
  • "Pumpkins United"
  • (Drum Solo)
  • "Livin' Ain't No Crime"
  • "A Little Time"
  • "Waiting For The Thunder"
  • "Sole Survivor"
  • "Power"
  • "How Many Tears"
ENCORE #1
  • "Eagle Fly Free"
  • "Keeper Of The Seven Keys"
ENCORE #2
  • (Guitar/Band Solo)
  • "Future World"
  • "I Want Out"
http://www.helloween.org

Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By George Dionne


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