I couldn’t even speak English when I started listening to Helloween, and funny enough, I really liked them. I liked them so much and listened to them so many times that, years later, when I found the old tape in the tape drawer and put it in the cassette player I realised I knew the lyrics, and even better, the guitar riffs. Besides the excitement of each song, the cherry on the top is waiting for that guitar solo in the middle of the song, and almost every song has one. Their 1991 album Pink Bubbles Go Ape is a trademark for my childhood. The sound of Helloween from my childhood had the voice of either Michael Kiske or Kai Hansen, it depended if I listened to Save Us or Judas which for a long time sounded about the same in my head, name-wise.
A few years ago I saw the band live in Bucharest, with their current singer, Andi Deris, and it was that type of concert: “20 years later I finally get to see the band live”. But the voices of Helloween, for me at least, as I already said above, were Kiske and Hansen and they decided to join the band for a world tour: Pumpkins United. And seeing and hearing them play live was a chance I was not going to miss. This involved a trip to Gothenburg. So here I was last Saturday on a train to the above mentioned city, a train half-full with metalheads, all of us going to another city for the same reason. Two gangs met in the same coach where I had my seat: first group was formed of 4 rather young guys, maybe not older than 40, who met each other for the first time just to go to this concert, and the other group was formed of 7 old friends, all Helloween fans who decided to attend the concert together. And people had leather jackets and chains and Helloween t-shirts and you could hear Helloween playing in their headphones. Even the lady on the train took the time to emphasise on the topic: “We are passing through Partille right now, there’s a big rock concert here tonight, if you are heading there, enjoy the evening!”
After trotting the streets of Gothenburg, a good meal and some rest, it was time to head to the arena. I managed to get there quite easy: follow the other rockers!
And now, the concert. WOW! It’s like I was 8 again. They opened with Halloween sung by the track’s original singer, Michael Kiske, and current singer Andi Deris. And those guitars, and the energy of the music! Helloween play power metal, which if I really have to say it, is loud and has a fast tempo, guitar riffs and some epic songs, real anthems, or rock operas, as Kiske described Keeper of the Seven Keys. Some songs can be very political, others can be quite humorous. And Helloween have a way of putting funny bits in their music, especially if the songs have names as Heavy Metal Hamsters (“soft and mellow sitting in the field and play like hell”). They didn’t play this song, unfortunately, it’s funny, it sounds good, it has the guitar riff and the irony of being written after bad experiences with a record label. The second song of the evening was Dr. Stein (“grows funny creatures, let’s them run into the night, They become great rock musicians and their time is right”) during which the visuals on the screen behind the band were showing Dr. Stein experimenting and creating the members of the band, among others. Seth and Doc were there for the breaks (two silly pumpkins walking the audience through Helloween history), and practically this was the whole concert: 3 decades of heavy metal history. The truth is that seeing 3 guitarists and 3 lead singers on stage during the same concert is quite impressive. My favourite part of the concert was when Kai Hansen took over the stage both as guitarist and singer and did a medley of Starlight, Ride the Sky and Judas. Another impressive moment was the tribute the band paid to former drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg who passed away in 1995, using old footage of him playing the drums so he can have his own drum solo and drum battle with the current drummer. The moment was followed by a tribute Kai Hansen paid to some of the rock legends who are no longer touring this world. I was fearfully waiting for A Tale that Wasn’t Right. It might be a good song but I don’t like it, probably because I listened to it one too many times and because it’s the type of song you listen to when you’re drunk and broken-hearted. Instead they played another song that you can listen to when you’re drunk and broken-hearted: Forever and One (Neverland), but at least this one is a bit more bearable.
The concert finished in full force at the two encores with Eagle Fly Free, Keeper of the Seven Keys, a 13-minute long track that passes from ballad, to heavy guitar riffs, epic vocals to become a Helloween masterpiece, Future World and I Want Out (probably their most popular song). And I think we didn’t really want to go home just yet. I think everybody there understood the importance of the moment: all three voices of Helloween were there, it’s like after 23 years of playing with Andi, when you already gave up on waiting to hear Kiske playing your favourite Helloween track with Kai Hansen on guitar, something happens and you see all three of them performing live in the same show. So now I can say 25 years later… I saw Helloween, what I understand by Helloween. It was an epic show! Hail 🤘🐹🐹🐹!!!