Wacken - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Several bands chose to end an ongoing tour at Wacken this year, not surprisingly as Wacken is after all the largest gathering of metalheads known to mankind.
Avantasia was one of these bands, and even though I still remembered the bitter disappointment that their 2008 show, I was willing to give them another go considering the high standard main man Tobias Sammet usually holds on his performances.

To begin with, the show held a lot of similarities to the last one I saw; both sets began with Twisted Mind and The Scarecrow, and both shows some of the same actors (if you can call them that), clearly seen in the backing vocals provided by Amanda Somerville and the first guest appearances which were by Jørn Lande in The Scarecrow and Promised Land, followed by Bob Catley in The Story Ain’t Over.
In my mind, Lande has always been extremely overrated as a singer and performer; sure, he can sing and hold a tune just fine, but he’s just so damn boring, and the way he acts makes me feel like he is something of a primadonna. Catley on the other hand did a great job, but it wasn’t until he left, Prelude had been played, and it was time for Reach Out For The Light that my most positive surprise came as Sammet pulled no one less than Michael Kiske out on the stage with him! Anybody who knows my taste will not be surprised by what this did for the gig in my eyes...
Kiske stayed on for one more song before leaving, giving room for the next wonderful surprise Sammet had up his sleeve; in Death Is Just A Feeling he brought in Kai Hansen, smartly dressed in tophat and cane!
While we’re on the name-dropping and song participation, I might as well go through the rest of the set, shall I?
In Farewell Somerville took centre-stage together with Sammet, and in The Wicked Symphony Lande returned, and guitarist Oliver Hartmann also got some mic-time. Moving on to the beginning of the (planned) encore, we saw Kiske and Catley return in Shelter From The Rain, which also saw Hansen join the musicians group on guitars, a position he kept for the rest of the set. Kiske also stayed on in Avantasia, and then all of the guests joined in on the majestic finally were they made a medley of Sign Of The Cross and The Seven Angels.

Even though Sammet chose only to speak in German (except for when he was making a commercial for the upcoming Edguy album Age Of The Joker), it was still quite delightful to watch the band play. It was obvious to all that the members, full-time as well as session, had a great time up on the stage, and they spent a lot of time messing about and playing around, both during songs and in between.
No wonder then that they also got a good deal of positivity from the giant crowd (I’m guessing this was one of the most popular concerts at this festival, judging from the attendance in the crowd).
During the heartfelt duet in Farewell all of the audience was waving their arms in the air, something which clearly touched Sammet as he yelled at the camera-men for not filming it (not in an angry way). He also got some laughs for stating the obvious in saying that the band was about to play a pop-tune before starting Lost In Space.
The largest response, and the loudest sing-along, came with the epic ending medley however, on stage as well as off.

Technically, the sound wasn’t exactly on top all of the time, but this was to be expected from Wacken. What was on top however was the atmosphere, and that was the one thing that I had really been missing from the 2008 gig (well, one of the things), and it proved all-important as Avantasia 2011 was a really positive experience which completely put my earlier fears to shame. I’m glad I had decided to give Sammet another chance as he here proved why it is that he is at the very top of the power metal food chain.


Twisted Mind
The Scarecrow (feat. Jørn Lande)
Promised Land (feat. Lande)
The Story Ain’t Over (feat. Bob Catley)
Reach Out For The Light (feat. Michael Kiske)
Dying For An Angel (feat. Kiske)
Death Is Just A Feeling (feat. Kai Hansen)
Lost In Space
Farewell (feat. Amanda Somerville)
The Wicked Symphony (feat. Lande, Oliver Hartmann)
Shelter From The Rain (feat. Hansen, Kiske, Catley)
Avantasia (feat. Hansen, Kiske)
Medley (feat. Hansen, Kiske, Catley, Lande, Somerville)

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