Helloween @ The Downtown (1/16/2004)

Logo - Helloween

Artist: Helloween
Venue: The Downtown (Farmingdale, NY)
Opener: Gothic Knights
Date: 1/16/2004
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

I first heard of Helloween by watching MTV (it was the late 80s). While I had been a Priest and Iron Maiden fan for some time I had yet to be exposed to the world of Power Metal. Today MTV is a far cry from those days and the new metal fan will have to wait until the off chance that the “Headbanger’s Ball” will luckily show something like this. This was an interest I maintained as among my favorite music styling in the heavy metal genre is power metal. Bands like Nightwish, Avantasia, Sonata Arctica and clearly one of the founders – Helloween comprise the core of my listening nowadays.

Of course this reference I make is over 15 years ago, and the show I attended featured a very different Helloween than the one I first witnessed on the television. Guitarist Kai Hansen is now fronting Gamma Ray and the band also lost the original drummer to tragedy a few years ago. There were new members such as Sascha Gerstner on guitar and former Accept drummer Stephan Schwarzman. Vocalist Andy Deris has been in Michael Kiske’s place for some years now while Markus Grosskopf (bass) and Michael Weikath (guitars) are original members.

The Helloween set was great as it featured a wide variety of the classic material as well as some new numbers of their latest release “Rabbit Don’t Come Easy”. Andy joked that this was to be called ‘Pu**y Don’t Come Easy’ but they could not do that. He also cleared up the thought that the group had never been to Farmingdale NY ever before. He said that Helloween last visited the area 13 years ago. There was also a funny comment by Weikath. He said he very pissed to find he was not allowed to smoke onstage. Andy told him, When Andy said that he could a bunch of cigarettes flew at the stage. New York has passed a law that bans smoking in bars and that were what Mike was speaking of.

The set list was pretty good this evening but did not include numbers like “Helloween” as this was the first numbers I ever heard from them. Given the fact that the song itself was about sixteen minutes in length, it probably did not make sense to include two such songs in the nights set. The managed to get to a lot of the other staple songs that make up a solid performance but one more I would have liked to have heard was “In The Middle Of A Heart Beat” because I am a big fan of the metal ballad and this is a good one. Still I had no real complaints about the selection and the manner in which it was all delivered.

Despite enjoying the atmosphere of the club and the music of Helloween, I did have one major gripe when the last number was performed. As it was a little fast, a group of fans decided to slam dance and mosh about during it. Now, Helloween is not really mosh music, it is solid fist pumping heavy metal. So I guess I felt this was a little unnecessary. It also seemed the participants of that aspect of the night showed a level of obnoxious behavior in not caring who they knocked about. I’ve slammed in the past so I know one respects the non-slammers, not this bunch. Oh well it was only the last 10 minutes so I just forgot about it.

The Downtown as a club was a great place. This was the first time I had ventured out to this club as it is about an hours drive from my home. I found the venue on the roomy side with good visibility of the stage from many spots. There were also television monitors in several places so one could watch that way if they so choose. The sound system was clear and powerful while the folks who handled the elaborate lighting setup did so with skill. It’s a venue I look forward to attending again.

Opening the show that evening was “The Gothic Knights”. The GK are promoting their latest release entitled “Up From The Ashes”. This group of American power metalers sounds much better in a live situation than is delivered on the CD. I enjoyed their performance and admired the work that they have put into the CD and packaging of their music. Notable tunes by them were the title piece and Vampire. I found the audience very supportive of them of them as well, which is a good thing when supporting an international act of acclaim such as Helloween.

Set List:
1. Starlight
2. Murderer
3. Keeper Of The Seven Keys
4. Future World
5. Eagle Fly Free
6. Hey Lord
7. Forever And One
8. Open Your Life
9. Dr Stein
10. If I Could Fly
11. Back Against The Wall
12. Where The Rain Grows
13. Power
14. Sun 4 The World
15. How Many Tears

Official Website: www.helloween.org

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