It’s a very early start with the doors opening at 5pm, but there’s a sizeable queue outside the venue waiting to be allowed in. When German hard rock band Kissin’ Dynamite hit the stage there’s already a fairly respectable turnout waiting for them. The band released their debut album “Steel of Swabia” way back in 2008, and has released a total of six albums. This, however, is the first time I’ve come across them. Their music could be straight out of the ’80s but they manage to avoid some of the more annoying clichés of that time; not every song is about partying and they don’t announce how much they kick ass at every opportunity. They’ve supported Steel Panther in the past but thankfully didn’t pick up any musical or performance tips from them.
Unfortunately technical problems call a halt to their set after the second song. There was a delay between what the band was playing and singing and the sound that was coming out of the front of house speakers. This resulted in singer Johannes Braun looking like a character from a badly dubbed movie at the start of the set. The band took it all in good humour, joked about it, and when the problem was fixed they resumed their set, still smiling. I have to say I was very impressed by their professionalism over this. I’ve seen many bands over the years who have thrown temper tantrums over much less. Energetic front man Johannes, with his shock of gravity defying blonde hair, bounces around the stage, punching the air to songs culled mainly from their latest offering “Ecstasy” which was released in 2018. He engages well with the audience here tonight and is happy to chat between songs. I don’t see anyone singing along with the band, possibly because most people here aren’t overly familiar with their material. However, they still manage to get the crowd clapping and cheering along. This kind of music sails a bit too close to glam rock waters for me and isn’t really my thing. However, I did enjoy their set. Jim Muller’s ’80s influenced guitar solos in particular, while not overly technical did keep my attention. It’s a good set from a band who I imagine won over many more fans tonight.
While there are many female fronted bands around these days, a lot of whom who have gone down the Nightwish/Within Temptation symphonic route, Amaranthe are fairly unique in their approach to the genre. Their fusion of metal and pop might not be to everyone’s taste but what they have come up with is a style that is uniquely their own. Having three singers adds to this individuality but does present its own problems when it comes to space on stage. When the band kicks off with “Maximize” from 2016’s ‘Maximalism’ album it’s looking quite crowded up there. Without a break the band is straight into “Digital World”, probably my favourite track of their set from what I consider their best album – “Massive Addictive”. Elize, dressed in black boots, fishnets and short skirt is on fine form tonight. Vocally she sounds just as she does on the album as does the rest of the band. “We are Amaranthe from Sweden…we love you Scotland!” Elize tells the crowd. I’d liked to have seen her chat a bit more with the fans, but the other members of the band do their fair share. At one point the only person on the stage is bass player Johan Andreassen, who chats and takes the piss out of a few hecklers in the crowd. He has us all squatting down, jumping up and clapping. It’s all good fun and that’s where a band like Amaranthe excels; playing music that you can have a good time to. Surprisingly, even though they’ve recently released “Helix”, the album that they take most of the songs from is 2011’s “Amaranthe”. After an impressive, and all too short, set the band finishes with “The Nexus”. Hopefully Amaranthe come back to Scotland again soon. It’d be great to see them doing a full headlining show.
Looking at the number of Powerwolf t-shirts in the crowd tonight it’s obvious that these guys are the main draw of the evening. A few fans have even donned the characteristic black and white make-up worn by this German power metal outfit. Before they hit the stage the roadies construct the set, which looks like a ruined cathedral. Its dark abandoned walls provide a keyboard and drum riser. The keyboard sits impressively upon small trees or upturned roots, which is a nice touch. On the back wall is a massive backdrop depicting the artwork from the latest album “The Sacrament of Sin”. It’s good to see a band make this kind of effort and reminds me of the 80s when bands like Dio had similar stage sets.
As the lights darken the intro song “Lupus Daemonis” is played while the band takes to the stage. The opening song “Fire and Forgive”, taken from “Sacrament of Sin”, gets the crowd going and during the set we see a few crowd surfers. There’s no mosh pit tonight but instead the crowd are caught in the grip of fist banging mania and sing along to every song. The set leans quite heavily in favour of the last two albums, with ten of the eighteen track set coming from those. Powerwolf, of course, are in full make-up and adorn black co-ordinated stage wear. I’ve never seen them before so was surprised not to see a bass player, I thought they might have had a hired hand on stage, but instead the bass was either a pre-recorded track or someone was playing it off stage. Singer Attila Dorn is a very entertaining frontman with a great sense of humour. He captivates the crowd between almost every song with chat, overly theatrical introductions, and sing alongs. While most keyboard players will remain behind their instrument during a gig, Falk Maria Schlegel likes to walk around the stage while not playing, pumping his fists in the air to the music and encouraging the crowd. The band looks to be having as much fun as the crowd. Pretty much every song has an anthemic, epic, triumphant quality so it’s difficult to pick a highlight, but for me it was probably the storming rendition of “Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend“. Their two hour set finishes with the crowd pleaser “Werewolves of Armenia”. If you’re looking for a fun night of more melodic upbeat metal you can’t go far wrong with this line-up of bands. A very enjoyable night where everyone left with a smile on their face. You can’t ask for any more than that.
Review – Martin Patterson
Images – Lara Vischi