VOLBEAT / ICED EARTH – Helsinki 28.11.2013

VOLBEAT/ICED EARTH
HELSINKI, FINLAND
NOVEMBER 28th 2013

REVIEW BY VILLE KRANNILA

WHAT on paper might seem a strange combination; Denmark’s hugely popular pioneers of Elvis-metal and kings of heavier than hell US power metal would seem a mismatch. But somehow the pair made it work in 2013 when visiting here as part of their successful European tour together.

Tour stemmed from the friendship between Iced Earth leader Jon Schaeffer and Volbeat’s vocalist Michael Poulsen. Both fans of each other’s music, Poulsen also guests on Iced Earth’s latest album “Plagues Of Babylon” and Schaeffer has been making an appearance on stage with Volbeat every night of the tour.

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Stu Block seems to be coming to his own as the frontman, stalking around the stage and singing his balls off! Rest of the band didn’t fare any less, guitarist Troy Seele remaining from the old line-up and peeling off excellent solos after another, new members Luke Appleton on bass and Raphael Saini on drums have blended in with the sound perfectly. The sound of course is mostly created by Jon Schaeffer’s trademark rhythm guitar, which is unique in the field of heavy metal. His backing vocals also add a distinctive touch to band’s music and forms an impressive wall of sound.

Too bad the usually reserved audience was extremely quiet even by Finnish standards, there must have been 100 people at front by the time Iced Earth played their set and judging by their reaction couple of dozen who were even vaguely familiar with group’s material.

Three songs were introduced from the new album, with at that point only the opening title track having been released and played on radio. “If I Could See You” proved to be a fine number for a live setting and I suppose “Peacemaker” while not being among my favourites, is a pretty good live track as well.

Finally band’s namesake song “Iced Earth” ended the all too brief set. Here’s hoping for a full club show later on.

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Foto: © Paul Gengenbach

Volbeat kicked things off with an acoustic segment and “Doc Holliday” from the new album “Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies.” The new stuff sounded better to my ears compared to their classic more rock-oriented material of their first and second album. Some long-time fans would probably think otherwise but I found nothing to complain about the new songs in the live environment.

The pace was kept tight throughout and pyros added to the live experience. This band for some reason, is much more popular in Europe than in the States where they mostly are reduced to playing clubs.

The band have progressed smoothly from clubs to arenas, although for myself this type of music is always more suited to an intimate surroundings. Something was definitely lost in translating a dynamic song like “Sad Man’s Tongue” to an audience of thousands amidst lights and pyros flashing. Then again, most of the people were having an excellent time so who am I to complain. Then again the new stuff had no problem transcending its message across.

Michael Poulsen is a charismatic vocalist, and used all corners of the stage to ignite more power to the crowd. As for the individual players, Rob Gaggiano on second guitar – formerly of Anthrax – provided a more metallic assault on his solos, often times sounding just like he did in his previous band. Rest of the band played perfectly in unison.

A sign for Irish dancer Lola Montez was displayed on the right side of the stage, but as the song inspired by here approached, this really wasn’t acknowledged so its inclusion remained a mystery. The audience was obviously enjoying it all, although like said before, the Finns never go too ballistic over any band. Hartwall Arena seemed if not completely sold out, then at least quite close to it. They warmed up a bit towards the end of the show, with more familiar hits being served to them and the overall atmosphere did remain great throughout.

Jon Schaeffer did a guest appearance on guitar during ”Pool Of Booze, Booze, Booza,” and the proper set concluded with an eerie rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want To Be With You.” Finally as encores the band rolled out classic “Caroline Leaving” and new song “Cape Of Our Hero.” Both worked well but it was the last two songs from “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” – “Maybellene I Hofteholder” and “Still Counting” – which really brought the roof down with their excellent melodies and heavy riffs. “Still Counting” isn’t the obvious closing number, with its slower heavier feel, but I liked it a lot! So all in all, this was not the most obvious combination for a night of rock and roll, but a heart-warming experience nonetheless.

Setlist Iced Earth:
– Plagues Of Babylon
– Dystopia
– Dark Saga
– My Own Savior
– If I Could See You
– V
– Peacemaker
– Watching Over Me
– Iced Earth

Setlist Volbeat:

– Doc Holliday
– Hallelujah Goat
– Radio Girl
– The Mirror and the Ripper
– The Nameless One
– Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
– Sad Man’s Tongue
– Lola Montez
– Heaven nor Hell
– 16 Dollars
– Dead but Rising
– The Garden’s Tale
– Pearl Hart
– A Moment Forever
– Fallen
– My Body
– Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza
– The Hangman’s Body Count
– I Only Want to Be with You

Encore:
– Caroline Leaving
– Cape of Our Hero
– Maybellene I Hofteholder
– Still Counting

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About Ville Krannila