The legendary Germanic Power Metal band Helloween visited Helsinki’s Ice hall (Black Box) on the 30th of November. This show was part of the very special tour entitled “Pumpkins Reunited”, that as the name implies saw the return of Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske.
The band was formed in the early 80’s (1984) and suffered several lineup readjustment in it’s initial career stages. The earliest full lineup consisted in Kai Hansen (Guitar), Markus Grosskopf (Bass), Michael Weikath (Guitar), Ingo Schwichtenberg (Drums) and Michael Kiske (Vocals).
Kai Hansen abandoned the band in 1988 after the release of the vol 2 of the Helloween’s landmark album “Keeper of the Seven Keys albums“. At this point Kai had decided to initiate his own project entitled Gamma Ray and was replaced by Roland Grapow.
Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg, were dismissed after the release of the not so successful albums “Pink Bubbles Go Ape“ (1991) and “Chameleon (1993)”. They were replaced, respectively, by Andi Deris and Uli Kusch. The band only found a stable lineup in 2005 with the inclusion of Daniel Löble on the Drums. Uli Kusch together with Roland Grapow (replaced by Sascha Gerstner) abandoned the band in 2001 to form the band Masterplan.
To brief up the lineup changes and current lineup of the band:
Michael Weikath – Guitarist / founding member
Markus Grosskopf – Bass / founding member
Andi Deris – Vocals / replacement of Michael Kiske
Sascha Gerstner – Guitars / replacement of Kai Hansen and Roland Grapow
Daniel Löble – drummer / replacement of Ingo “Mr.Smile” Schwichtenberg and Uli Kusch
The event started some minutes late and with the closed curtains Let Me Entertain You (Robbin Williams) was igniting even further the excitement of the crowd. They opened the night with Halloween with a pure display of all the band elements, stage decorations and backdrop projections that would dazzle the crowd in the following hours.
Witnessing the varied age groups in the audience they couldn’t contain themselves to comment after the first song: “Great to see many people from different ages including old darts as us”. Showing the well oiled dynamic between the band and the audience, they kept making jokes about Germans and introduced for the first time Seth and Doc, their pet pumpkins cartoons that would keep the audience entertained from now on in between songs.
The Black Box installed in the middle of Helsinki Ice Hall gives it a comfy/cozy feeling to this dimension gig while accommodating a larger audience then a traditional club venue. It was a pleasure to witness that this stage included a cat walk that all member used frequently during the show to present themselves to the audience and provide a close to the band experience to most of the fans, even the ones that stayed in the +18 area further in the back.
Jumping further in the band’s career, it was Andi Deris ‘ time to bound / make closer connection / closely interact with the audience, playing “If I could Fly” from the 2001 album “Dark Ride”. The interaction with singular elements of the crowd that surrounded the stage cat walk and the display of a superb light show turned this into another particularly special moment for the audience.
The career display / Walk through the band’s career continued and it was time to visit the 2010 album “7 Sinners”. The heavier and crowd teaser tune “Are you metal?” proved to really activate not only the audience but also the band. That with all the band elements moving so much back and forward almost ended up in Andi Deris bumping on the wall of guitar players that was formed unexpectedly behind him. Not a serious incident but that allowed to see the jolly mood amongst the band. Between short breaks were Seth and Doc kept everyone entertained, Michael Kiske even attacked by some flu virus continued together with the rest of the band to exhibit a skilled live performance playing another classic “Rise and Fall” ( Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II)
“Waiting for the Thunder” taken from their 2013 album “Straight Out of Hell” was the next track selected for this tour lineup, this track was performed by Andi while Markus Grosskopf randomly trowed picks at the audience.
The first ballad from this setlist was “Forever and One (Neverland)” from 2003 album “The Time of the Oath” , and even though the ending of the track by Sascha ‘s solo came short due to guitar problems, the experienced band handled it perfectly fine.The second ballad of the night was “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”, taken from the “Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part I”. At this moment you can witness a rebel and old school attitude with Kai Hansen lighting up a cigarette on stage. While Kiske claimed he didn’t had much voice left from this song, he nailed the first high pitch notes and even with half way troubles to hold some notes the song and with the help of the audience singing alone the song was another success of this night.
From their 1988 album “Better Than Raw” they selected “I can” and it was performed in glittery cloth to illuminate the stage. Even though Kiske’s flu started to show up and with some vocals fading away, he quickly recovered, keeping the good interaction with the band. In this track mainly with Andi and Markus.
A very special moment followed with a drums duel between Daniel and an old footage from Ingo. This was a nice way to immortalise and show some respect for the first drummer of the band, that unfortunately committed suicide few years after he was dismissed from the band. This few minutes homage was very welcomed by the audience that clapped for Daniel while he mimicked what Ingo was doing in the shown video. The massive drum kit structure that Daniel uses, with two big drum bass hanging high on his side, made this little moment even more stunning.
A gigantic clock in the background nicely synchronized with the song, was a nice visual opener to “A little Time”. For this one Kiske sat down at the end of the catwalk making it an even more intimate moment shared with the audience. This selected position also led to an amusing moment since he was kind of wrapped around the guitar player and eventually needed a hand to stand up.
They came back for what was clearly the end of the show with a guitar solo by Kai Hansen, and their most welcomed classics “Future World” (Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part I) and “I Want Out” (Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II). The last song was the climax of an almost three hour show and orange and black balloons were thrown upon the audience.
You can check the details of Helsinki setlist here