…but turned ok despite all odds
Back in 1991-1992, Bach and I were driving the DJs nuts with our phone-calls, letters, wicked gift ideas, dedications and requests. Some of those requests were dedicated “to all the fans of the best heavy metal band made in Deutschland”. We just loved the sheer energy transmitted by Helloween’s strong and fast rhythm, we knew all their lyrics by heart, we used the tapes so many times they were showing signs of damage. Bach has her share of stories of jumping around the house on their unmistakable sound. To my knowledge, her neighbour’s selection of teary ballads has been interrupted many times by devilish guitar riffs and loud music airplay.
Then, around 1992, we heard a band that had some potential. We were probably drawn by some sappy ballad, as back then every radio station had one or two mellow charts, and everyone was trying to promote music the others never heard of. It could have been “Where the eagle learns to fly” that introduced Pink Cream 69 to us, we liked it and we bought their album.
Later on, in 1993, when we got cable and started watching MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” religiously, we taped videos and interviews with Pink Cream 69. Our fave song / video to this date remains “Keep your eye on the twisted”, shot in black and white and tinted blue. We bought “Games People Play” and felt Pink Cream 69 is becoming a band with a strong recognition and a strong fan-base. As for the interviews, we absolutely loved Andi Deris’ personal style, so much different than the German natural reserve and rather Latin in spirit.
When we heard that Andi Deris has left Pink Cream 69 to replace Helloween’s lead-singer Michael Kiske, we were devastated. We loved Michael’s previous efforts with Helloween and we couldn’t picture Pink Cream 69 without Andi’s charismatic figure. We had the impression this move was going to destroy both bands. We were only half right. Pink Cream 69 sunk into oblivion, but in the end we agreed that if anyone were to replace Kiske, it couldn’t be a better choice for the job than Andi.
Bach was fortunate enough to chat with Andi after the release of “The Dark Ride”, his fourth album with Helloween. Funny enough, he was saying something about never playing in Romania and “maybe someday touring there”… That day has finally come.
The opening acts were, as always, a good chance to mingle with the crowd and look for acquaintances. This time we had some specific characters in mind, for we knew they once loved this band with passion. Their T-Shirts proved it :)) We only came close to “Lemmy”, his significant other – still a blonde metal chick – and “Zapada”. Some things never change… I bet there were more of the old school, but we went forward trying to secure some spots closer to stage.
Prospect, a band from Slovenia, played some sort of progressive rock with long intros. They also had instrumental tracks. The beefy vocalist managed to make himself popular (with us, at least) with his energetic moves and his overall stage presence. They were quite cool, actually, but the crowd was dying to hear the headliners. Just close to the end of their act, they started a medley; “Paranoid” got the attention of everyone present, “Two minutes to midnight” got them mosh-pitting, and “Pull me under” brought them back to their musical style. All covers were greately appreciated and I was joking with Bach that, had they known they were going to be so successful, they would have started with that in the first place…
Helloween’s show was a treat from start to finish. We were pleased to notice Andi looked unchanged, just like he was stuck in a time warp. He had the same sparkly eyes, he was his old-self, and he managed to mesmerize and electrify the crowd immediately. Anyone could see that after almost 12 years he was still a great showman and really passionate about this whole thing. Not for a moment I had the impression they were just playing their part and the hell with the rest. Quite the contrary, they really knew how to communicate with the crowd and it was such a great audience too. Everybody around me knew the lyrics and shout their lungs out. There were a lot of youngsters present and they were enthusiastic about newer songs, while me, Bach and a couple of older fans were extatic during older tracks that made Helloween the legend that it is today.
Now, you know how every rock concert has it’s drum solo, right? It is the time when the rest of the band members are catching their breath. It’s just as basic as the chorus. These guys managed to entertain the crowd with Grosskopf, the bass player, mocking Loeble, the drummer, using a kiddie drum kit… Mmmmmokay, maybe it wasn’t something that a serious fan would want to see on stage after so many years of hopeless waiting, but apparently no one there constituted a serious fan; they all cracked up… including us.
Now, you know how every rock concert has it’s guitar solo, right? It is the time when the drummer is also catching his breath. It’s just as basic as the bridge after the chorus. Of course, we didn’t see that one coming. Loeble, the drummer, was mocking Sascha Gerstner, the guitar player, using a tiny electric guitar.
Ok, don’t let these funny pictures fool you for one bit. The actual music was great and the performance awesome. You can’t even pretend to understand what I’m trying to express here – the indescribable emotion of being a tiny drop in a sea of people singing together “Future World”…
The show lasted 2 hours and a half and I honestly didn’t realize it has been that long. Apart from the exquisite company, and I mean the men on stage, the combination Bach+Kitz is always bound to raise some eyebrows, start a riot, set a trend or other things that makes us ordinary people feel special…
Although extatic, we still found the time to crack some jokes about what was going on on stage. If Andi was the Latin type, then Michael Weikath was definitely the British type. We surprised him smoking a cigar, leaning on an amplifier and looking up in reverie, and if that were a scene in a Tarantino movie, his line should have been: “Life is peachy, man…”
The newest member of the band, Sascha, nicknamed on the spot “Der Junge”, proved to be the secret ingredient for the recent recipe of success; not only he is composing most songs for Helloween, but he fits well in the group, too.
“For the first time we can rely on two guitarists that get along very well. It is a new experience for me in the ten years I have been part of Helloween that the band enters the rehearsal room and works on the songs together. With the old line-up it wasn’t possible because the rest of the band would have been forced to idly sit on the couch while the two guitarists unwillingly tried to find the least common denominator. Back then it was normal that Weiki recorded a couple of tracks and Roland a few but they were absolutely unable to do it together. Now after a very long world-tour with Sascha, we know we really like this boy”
~ Andi Deris
If you sat home crying over former band members and thinking Helloween’s time has passed, you missed out. Big time.