Van Canto

Wacken - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

After the bad encounter with Morbid Angel, we were more than happy to hurry over to the Party Stage where Van Canto were singing, even though we had never seen this group before.
Yes, I said singing; for those of you who are still unfamiliar with the group, Van Canto is a German a cappella ensemble consisting of five singers and one drummer; two of the vocalists, Dennis ‘Sly’ Schunke and Inga Scharf, sing the lyrics while the other three, Stefan ‘Stef’ Schmidt, Ross Thompson and Ingo ‘Ike’ Sterzinger, imitate the guitar and bass sounds of a normal metal group. Oh, and the drummer is called Bastian Emig, now you have them all introduced...

Van Canto have made their fame doing their own very special kind of covers of famous metal songs from bands such as Metallica, Blind Guardian and Manowar, but their repertoire is still mainly filled up with their own material which does hold a very high quality as well.
Still, it was in the middle of a cover that we happened to enter their set (as they had already sung for some time when we arrived). The song was Primo Victoria, originally done by Sabaton, and I was positively taken aback when I felt that the energy was at least as good here as it know it from the best of Sabaton’s own concerts! Sure, the audience was smaller here than it would have been at one of those shows, but the area in front of the Party Stage was well filled and it was only possible to get a place far out to the side where I could only see a small segment of the stage. Still, this was enough to be completely pulled in by the atmosphere the very same second I arrived.
The set continued with one of the band’s own compositions of which I’m not familiar with the title I’m afraid as I’m still very new to the band, but the effect on the general man/woman in the crowd certainly didn’t lessen, and from my safe spot out at the side I could see a sea of crowd-surfers flowing by in the middle. Yep, Van Canto certainly had a good grip on how a show should be delivered!

Surprisingly, it was not often leading man Schunke who stood for speaking to the audience between the songs but rather lead and lower rakkatakka vocalist Schmidt, something I believe he did very well. Sadly, as with so much at this festival so far, it was all done in German so the only thing I could guess the meaning of was when he shouted; ”Germany, you can sing!” after an especially good sing-along to Kings Of Metal.
Everyone in the band was good at standing out though, and all of them were active in their performance. I remember Thompson especially well, maybe because he was standing in the same side as I, but probably more likely because he would often venture out on the side of the stage to get everyone on his side involved (as if it was needed). Neither can I forget Schunke crowd surfing whilst singing the final song of the day, Fear Of The Dark.
It’s great to see a band that works for it, and enjoys it at the same time; and the members of Van Canto were clearly enjoying themselves!

I was certainly enjoying myself as well, if you haven’t gathered that much already, and if I could do it over I would have missed a second of this show. The way things are now, I can only hope they will show up somewhere close as they tour in support of their upcoming album Break The Silence, which everyone should check out!

Setlist (incomplete):

Primo Victoria (Sabaton cover)
The Bard’s Song – In The Forest (Blind Guardian cover)
Water. Fire. Heaven. Earth.
Master Of Puppets (Metallica cover)
Kings Of Metal (Manowar cover)
Fear Of The Dark (Iron Maiden cover)

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