By your friendly webmaster
Guilty parties: yours truly, Baz Jones, Siobhan Gibson, Elizabeth Watts, Oli Wade, Andy Hudson, Dave Tyler, Linda from Noo Yoik, James McIlroy, Andy Wenham-Prosser, Dawn Jones, JP, other Londoners I know less well (and people from all over the place) including Jo, Kev, Danny, Justin, Lance, Sylvia, Alex, Sally, another Dave, Kath, three Germans... etc etc etc. In short, it was a rather large campsite by the time everyone had arrived.
IN THE BEGINNING...
It all started with a preliminary visit to WUS on Tuesday evening, with Marc Larbey's gumby metal set psyching us up rather nicely for the mullet-and-moustache-fest that was to follow. So we headed immediately for Drummer Street to catch the stupid o'clock (3:10 am) bus to Stansted for the stupid o'clock (6:40 am) flight to Lübeck. All seemed to pass smoothly, despite losing my gas stove to the X-ray machine people at the airport. However, this was nothing compared to the shock awaiting James, Andy WP, Kev and Danny who arrived at Lübeck to find Ryanair had lost their luggage... Oli and Baz had a similar nasty experience, when their first taste of Germany was a cup of tea which was truly foul.
Meeting up at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof with Dawn, JP and other Londoners, we caught the train to Itzehoe, described by Baz as "a shithole", to get the official W:O:A bus to the campsite. The sun blazed angrily on us as we pitched our tents and started burning Baz's nose. The evening was mainly spent frantically calling Ryanair to find the lost luggage, only to find they hadn't a clue. As it turns out, they lost 80 bags that day, 70 on Thursday and 38 bags and a plane on Friday. You heard me, they lost a plane. Berks.
Determined not to be upstaged on the "losing things" front I headed out to check out the festival site with Baz and Siobhan, and returned to find my watch had dropped out of my pocket somewhere along the way. Arse.
It seems my reputation has spread into Europe - during a conversation with Dave and Linda, a random German thrust some leftover food at me and said "Do you vant zis? It taste like shit! It is like bread zat has not been cooked properly, and I pay four euro for it..." And sure enough, it was fantastic and I scoffed the lot. "Nudeln mit Gyros", apparently, though it was actually pasta with spices and kebab meat. Wunderbar, as they say.
Wednesday evening's entertainment was the Metal Karaoke in the Wet Tent - let's just say it included some very drunk Germans performing their favourite metal tunes with varying degrees of competence - one performer of "Aces High" was particularly bad, and an attempt to death grunt "Holy Diver" à la Cannibal Corpse was roundly booed and bottled. Between performances there was usually a loud chant of whatever band the crowd wanted to hear - first Slayer, then Maiden, and finally, inevitably, Manowar. And so we finished with "Warriors Of The World", which recently rocketed to no.4 in the German mainstream charts... brothers everywhere, raise your hands into the air, indeed...
Thursday morning brought a trip to the local Spar market with Bonzo and Siobhan, on a quest for food and vast quantities of alcoholic fluid - and, in my case, a watch. Having been dragged to the supermarket tent on the festival site the previous evening by Dawn and JP, where I'd shelled out €7.50 for nine cans of proper German Holsten (and that was a special offer, €15 for 18 cans, split with JP), imagine my annoyance at finding the same Holsten was selling at €3 for a six-pack at Spar, and Silver Pilsener was 39c per can. Still, I'll know where to go next year. Also notable was Bonzo's method of relieving her dramatic salt loss eating pure salt instead of salt tablets from the local chemist's - an interesting idea... Also, having met Jayanta on the way back and discussed Kiran's non-appearance at his home festival, I finally found a watch... but the woman in the gift shop didn't want to sell me one for €10 and insisted I head to the jeweller's where I found another (albeit better) watch for €40...
Much sitting around in the tent and drinking of strong German lager followed. And then, at 4pm, the first band was on.
THE BANDS - THURSDAY
The band with the honour of opening the festival was MESSIAH'S KISS, a trad metal band according to Bonzo, but sounded suspiciously power metal from the tent, and were roundly ignored by all, bar Bonzo. Oli then perked up as KOTIPELTO hit the stage, who we all knew by now were a Stratovarius side project, and the sound of million-mile-an-hour Casio keyboard solos didn't appeal to many of us. It was 6:30 before the first band worth noting appeared, and BLAZE did not disappoint at all. You could say it was the usual suspects - "Kill and Destroy", "End Dream", "Silicon Messiah", "Staring At The Sun", "Man On The Edge" (what else...?), "Born As A Stranger", "Ghost In The Machine" and "Tenth Dimension". No Wolfsbane tracks, but what the hell, it was a great set and Blaze has promised us a new album next year. Fantastic. Better still, the rain held off just long enough to retreat to the tent before DORO emerged - not a band anyone wanted to see, especially as some of us had been treated to the delights of the old hag at Graspop as well. I heard that even some die-hard German Doro fans had retreated to the beer stands as the rain fell by the oceanful... it had stopped by the time ROSE TATTOO came on, though. Bonzo had wondered whether to go and see them but had asked three of us (separately) what they sounded like and the answer, each time, was "AC/DC". And we were all right. I had a quick look at them, but didn't stay long, though I did recognise "Nice Boys", as covered by Guns N' Roses, from the tent.
Thursday evening also included more annoyed phone calls to Ryanair, who were still clueless. Eventually, I joined Andy H and Kev for a late-night drinking session in the Paulaner tent, next to the real and proper beer garden, where we found a paralytic German lying on the floor, and an pissed Irishman called Darrah, who had several teeth missing and told us about his Dublin-based 80's trad metal covers band, Fisted Sister. Apparently they twist the lyrics to several metal classics, including one about a priest... and I fully expect to send Andy McLellan up to Dublin to deliver a verdict on behalf of all of us.
There was an early start (10 am) on Friday, as those of us attempting to sleep in (fat chance) were woken by the sound of squiddling and diddling from the True Metal Stage, which turned out to be STORMWARRIOR. Much apathy ensued as I for one preferred an early morning beer and a can of All Day Breakfast. VOMITORY soon followed, and said "blaaarrggh" rather a lot. Between them these two managed to drown out AVALANCH (sic) who I had been warned were not very good. Soon enough I decided to head for the festival site, to find a huge and horrific queue - or, more correctly, mob - but at least while queueing I heard a lot of DOMINE, the widdly-diddliest band I have heard since Oli first played Blind Guardian at me. And, yes, they were awful. I had intended to see NECROPHOBIC, deciding that any band named after a Slayer track had to be fantastic, but spent so long in the mob that I only arrived on the site just before their last track. Let's just say that I heard while in the mob and on the festival site sounded like a very promising death metal band that blew away the squiddly stuff good and proper. Next band on the Party Stage was DORNENREICH, who veered between black metal and Type O-style crooning. They didn't do a lot for me, but Baz was mightily impressed. Though, during the quiet croony bits, he did complain about the sound being drowned out by more diddling and squiddling from the True Metal stage. The guilry band was IRON SAVIOUR, who I attempted to ignore, but somehow couldn't - yes, they did widdle and squiddle a lot, but I managed not to hate what I heard, so maybe there's hope for them, though I'm sure I did hear some very silly song titles in there somewhere.
So on to the major surprise of the day. "We are DEBRIS INCORPORATED, and we are not responsible!" declared a 40-something hippy lookalike holding a guitar, as they burst into their first track. I'd never heard of them before, and neither had any of the Germans, judging by the large, empty gaps at the front of the stage. Just as I was wondering whether to stay and see them, they launched into what can only described as early Suicidal Tendencies with a bit more metal here and there, followed soon enough by a stonery tune with a ridiculously long name. Having headed straight to the front, I found myself headbanging and air guitaring frantically during the set, for it was rather fantastic... even if I had to avoid a pissed German who fell over every five seconds or so. Now that I an in front of a computer, a quick internet search reveals that the ageing hippy on guitar is Dave Chandler of St. Vitus, and the Lemmy-meets-Zakk Wylde lookalike on bass is Trouble's Ron Holzner. So I suppose their own definition of "HappyViolentDrunkenStonerDoomPunk" is absolutely spot on. Marvellous.
Next, it was back to the tent to avoid the prog-rock wankery of ANGRA, and what I heard from the tent was truly excruciating. I also managed to miss METALUCIFER, who Baz liked a lot (I think...!), DYING FETUS, who another group of British metal fans had come to see, and NOCTURNAL RITES. The preferred activity was looking for water... to find a mob of pissed Germans at the standpipes throwing buckets of water at anyone within flinging distance. Filling a couple of two-litre bottles took a rather long time with a German barging everyone out of the way to fill up a baked bean tin every ten seconds to throw it at us all, but under the circumstances, getting absolutely drenched was the only way to cool off, so I'm not complaining at all. Drinking in the tent continued during more widdly-diddly plank-spankage from PRETTY MAIDS, until the black metal crowd decided it would be a good idea to head off to see BORKNAGAR. On the way, we passed a tent with two people clutching beers and looking stern, with a sign saying "NØRDISK SVART METAL" outside their tent... Stopping to buy Bratwurst mit Curryketchup on the way - €2.50 of German meaty goodness, highly recommended - I managed to catch most of the Norwegians' set, and was mightily impressed, even though I'm hardly the biggest black metal fan in the world, but I'm sure Baz will fill us in on this one. Prior to eating my 10-inch sausage, I'd managed to catch a bit of DIMPLE MINDS on the Party Stage. I'm assuming they were a comedy band, judging by their publicity and the tacky uniforms they wore on stage, but the lyrics were all in German so I couldn't tell. Who cares, they were crap anyway.
Seeing that SAVATAGE were about to pollute the True Metal Stage with more pretentious prog rock toss, I headed into the Wet Stage tent for the only time in the entire weekend, expecting to see ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY. I was rather alarmed by the sight of HEAVENLY's banner on the stage, though it was quickly taken down... and a look on the guide revealed the next band was to be FLESHCRAWL. Seems they'd cocked up the times and moved every band forward one slot. As I was wondering whether to stay on, the guitarist had a quick soundcheck, and the patented Swedish death metal guitar sound, as perfected by Entombed, blasted forth from the speakers. It turns out Fleshcrawl are German, but they certainly deserve to be honorary Swedes, given the Swedishness of their death metal attack. I managed 20-odd minutes of violent pit action in what was now blazing heat turning the tent into a microwave, before deciding to head off in search of more water (down the throat and all over the t-shirt) before I passed out...
Next up, a proper treat! Having stuck my head into the Wet Stage to at least get a quick look at Alabama Thunder Pussy (for about ten seconds), DESTRUCTION hit the Black Stage, and spent the next hour pummeling out some of the fastest German Thrash in existence. Given that I only have one and a half Destruction albums and have heard other bits in passing (cheers Baz), I could at least recognise some of the classics, and a couple of new ones - "Mad Butcher" segued straight into "The Butcher Strikes Back" (devastating thrash attack!), "Thrash Til Death", "Total Disaster" and "Invincible Force". Also, recognising that there were quite a few non-Germans in the crowd, Schmier chose to revert to talking to us in English, unlike most of the other German bands at the festival, so at least I knew what was coming up. Top banana. Barely ten minutes passed before Friday's headliner hit the True Metal Stage - BRUCE DICKINSON, reunited with his backing band from the Skunkworks album, with ex-Almighty guitarist Pete Friesen in tow as well. Cue, amongst other tracks I don't recognise, "Back From The Edge", "Accident Of Birth", "Tears Of The Dragon", The Tower", "Darkside Of Aquarius", an encore of "Tattooed Millionaire", and some tunes no longer played by Bruce's other band - "Revelations", "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter", and "The Prisoner" and "Powerslave" in the encore. Generally, a fantastic performance all round that's made me dig out the two Bruce albums that I've got here - "The Chemical Wedding" is playing right now. Oddly enough, Bruce didn't mention "Scream for me, Wacken!" until the encore... but when he did, several thousand Germans (and the rest of us as well) didn't let him down at all! Incidentally, anyone remember a Channel 4 programme called "Last Chance Lottery" which would involve a guest singer every week singing a random song picked off a wheel-of-fortune-type thing? Bruce was on it one week, shortly after his barnet chop, and having been introduced by Patrick Kielty as "Bruce Dickinson, the singer of Def Leppard" (fuckwit!) Bruce went on to perform Tom Jones' "Delilah". I can only think of that reason for this being his closing track... and it had the loudest singalong of all!
An hour and a half of air-raid siren metal left me thoroughly knackered, so I elected to give CHILDREN OF BODOM a miss, even though I'd wanted to see them, I couldn't manage it. Still, I did get to hear their Casio keyboardy-black-death-power metal noise from the tent, and managed to recognise quite a few tunes from Tom's Anglia Rock nights and Euro-Metal in Nottingham. No "Aces High", though... I have never been too bothered about MY DYING BRIDE, so I managed to give them a miss as well. No sooner had I climbed into the tent, than an unbelieveable sound emanated from the True Metal stage - a heavy metal version of the Village People's "Go West"! What ensued was a desecration of "Ace Of Spades", and various medleys of "We Are Sailing", "Let It Be", "Yellow Submarine", "Singing In The Rain", some kind of Star Trek tune which I would never have known if Bonzo hadn't told me, followed by some more silly songs in German. Yes, it's J.B.O. - Germany's answer to Lawnmower Deth with a fraction of the talent. Worse still, as I finally headed to the stage to see the loonies in action, I saw they were wearing sparkly pink suits, and had amps with pink cases. Disappearing for another Bratwurst, they launched into an in-house singalong... something along the lines of "gib mir ein J, gib mir ein B, gib mir ein O, was macht das? J.B.O.!" - accompanied by huge letters "JBO" lighting up above them on stage in... yes, you've guessed it... pink. And the Germans enjoyed every minute of it. Sometimes I can't believe what I see...
The next target was the Party Stage, where I expected to see CANDLEMASS. Much to my disappointment, the organisers had fucked around with the order again, and I was greeted by a bunch of old men - TORFROCK, in fact. Some rather un-heavy rock occurred and I left after one track. On the Black Stage, IN EXTREMO weren't very good either - some kind of joke power metal performed by men in kilts, with added bagpipe section. Again, the Germans thought it was great, but they were all pissed out of their skulls. Meeting up with Baz, we attempted to find out if Candlemass were due to be last on the Party Stage - only to find they'd played earlier, in Torfrock's slot. So we headed back to the tent, to find Andy H and Dave T who had both seen Candlemass, and said their performance was crap. So a spell in the sleeping bag seemed like the best idea - though I knew I wouldn't get any sleep for another hour while WARLORD played the True Metal Stage. "Someone's got to do the graveyard shift," they said as they... I would say they widdled and diddled, but I was so knackered by that point I really can't remember. During the breaks in their set I'm sure I heard something of RED AIM coming from the Party Stage, but my brain didn't register it...
Saturday started with another rude awakening at 10 am, and this time the guilty band was STORMWITCH, who widdled and squiddled, and I wouldn't even have left the tent if I hadn't needed a piss. The breaks in their set were filled by ROTTWEILER on the Party Stage, but the utter horribleness of Stormwitch stopped me remembering what they sounded like. Eventually, both bands were replaced by a far more appealing death metal sound - I didn't make it to the stage in time, but the band was CRIMINAL who Baz gave us all a glowing review of, and should be checked out. So the first band I saw for the day while in search of a mid-morning snack and a couple of Hasseröder Premium Pilseners was WIZARD, who managed to out-widdle and squiddle any band that had gone before them, and after them... Stormwarrior, Domine and even Blind Guardian included. The experience was excruciating and even similarly-named Brummie berks Wizzard performing a non-stop rendition of "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" would have been better! Beating a hasty retreat back to the tent, the black metal contingent amongst us suggested heading back there the see AMON AMARTH. It's a band I'd heard off before and I was expecting screechy black metal, but their un-screechiness meant I liked them rather a lot and ended up staying for the whole set. Much windmill headbanging ensued. I spent the next hour or so tipping beer and and a steak sandwich (€3.50, larger than a Bratwurst but full of gristle...) down my throat but managed to catch a bit of VICIOUS RUMOURS, who flew over my head completely but I'm sure I heard a squiddle and a diddle in there somewhere. I headed over to find Baz and others behind the Party Stage checking out the rehashed line-up for the day, and encountered the Metal Blade merchandise stall, proudly declaring "CDs ab 1 Euro". And sure enough, amongst the €1 CDs were a couple by Galactic Cowboys - "Machine Fish" and the "Feel The Rage" EP - so I pocketed them both for less than the price of a pint. Even the early Slayer CDs at €13 were a bargain compared with high street prices... Meanwhile THUNDERSTONE had just started on the Party Stage. They widdled, they diddled, they squiddled. We left.
Round about this time came the news from Ryanair that James and Andy's luggage had been found and had been delivered to the campsite. After much charging around, it turned out it hadn't been delivered and wasn't going to be until later, but eventually the two of them were finally reunited with their tents, clothes and other gear. This had come too late for Danny who had shat himself in someone else's trousers while queuing for the bogs. Oddly enough, the queue for the chemical toilets was non-existent.
Many of the black metal contingent in our campsite were raving about MACABRE, who I already knew were a less-than-serious black metal band, though I'd managed to avoid them at Graspop last year. This time I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and my attention lasted for one vaguely black metal track followed by an extremely silly nursery-rhyme style track, which was apparently about a German serial killer. I decided it would be a far better idea to take my place in the crowd at the True Metal stage for the first of the day's five thrash metal bands, NUCLEAR ASSAULT. Having only heard "Hang The Pope" before, which blasts through in under a minute, and a few random but more conventional length tracks courtesy of Lance's portable CD player, I was still unsure what to expect... not a problem though, it was a top-notch display of exactly the kind of thrash I like, which did sound like Anthrax in places. As a bonus point, by this stage the security guards at the front had got hold of some huge hosepipes and were liberally dousing us all with some much-needed ice-cold water, and the mad German behind me who had been shouting for "Hang The Pope" (at about a third of the speed it's actually played...) finally got his wish towards the end of the set, and went utterly mental, not stopping until another couple of less-than-one-minute tracks that "HtP" was segued into were over.
Meanwhile, on the Party Stage, FALCONER started their set, and given that Oli had been raving about them for most of the day, plus the name that strongly suggested diddly-squiddly power metal, I decided to give them a wide berth... beer seemed like a good option, especially as the next band on the Black Stage was IMMORTAL, who I've never been much of a fan of. Cue another session at the now-deserted standpipes, when I really could have done with some Germans throwing water about, followed by a return to the True Metal stage for Thrash Attack Part III: EXODUS. They could have folded after Paul Baloff died of a stroke earlier this year, but chose to reappoint Steve Souza and continue. Good job, because it was a fantastic set, opening with "A Lesson In Violence", "And Then There Were None" (dedicated to Paul Baloff, as we might expect) and "Piranha", a couple of new tracks from what will be the first new Exodus album in eleven years, and a double whammy of "Bonded By Blood" and "Toxic Waltz"... before they found out they'd played so fast they still had time left! A quick band meeting on stage spawned "Corruptions" and "Last Act Of Defiance" to finish up with, and it was over all too quickly but was still very impressive. I should mention I caught a quick look at SINERGY on the Party Stage before hand, and let's just say they caused me to appreciate Exodus even more.
After a lightning-speed break, I headed back to the Black Stage for HYPOCRISY, who I missed at Graspop, which meant I hadn't seen them since they supported Meshuggah way back in March 1996. This time I thought I'd have a look, and was treated to an hour of Swedish death metal with practically non-stop windmill headbanging from one or both of the guitarist and bassist. The only time the action had any let up at all was when Peter Tägtgren unwisely announced "This is a new one" and watched the crowd's reaction drop dramatically... Die-hard Hypocrisy fans will probably disagree, but I can't see the problem with the new stuff at all, it sounds just as good to me... maybe I'll have to hear it up against an early album to find out. Next up on the True Metal Stage were EDGUY who had bored the shit out of me at Graspop, and let's face it, any band with albums called "Mandrake" and "Vain Glory Opera" is giving away what they're going to sound like... so the best idea was to head over to the Party Stage. All I'd heard about HEATHEN was that they were an old thrash band, and Bonzo had shown me a Heathen record dating from 1985. Therefore, hopes were high... and what followed was a satisfying hour of Bay Area Thrash with a fantastic view from right at the front, a very energetic (and very bald) frontman, a very old (and very odd) redneck bassist who told us some jokes before the set, a top-notch track called "Open The Grave" that some Germans were screaming for all through the set, a Thin Lizzy cover and a German standing in front of me with a huge, hand-drawn "Bier Guardian" patch on his gumby jacket, showing a dark hooded figure holding a pint in one hand and a pint in the other. Includes three bonus tracks - "The Alcoholic's Tale", "Tea What Is Tea" and... another one I'll add when I get the photo back. Blinding.
Time for a lengthy break, as I've never been massively impressed by CANNIBAL CORPSE but I did hear them grunting their way through several of their dodgily-named tracks while sitting by the tent watching Andy and the Londoners get stoned. And so, onto the band that everyone wanted to see... well, actually, just Oli, Bonzo and several thousand Germans... BLIND GUARDIAN. I consider it a major feat that I managed to get close enough to the stage to make out the band as more than a couple of tiny dots, though this time that was more to do with the sheer amount of German fans crowding the place than my own sever dislike of the band... they were as almost far back as the merchandise tent. I managed about ten minutes of BG before being accosted by Dave T who moaned at length about how all their albums were utter crap except the Silmarillion-based "Nightfall In Middle Earth" which is one of his all-time favourites. Still, I suppose we could have had worse... it could have been Nightwish! A far better idea was to head for the Party Stage where UNLEASHED were playing. I was initially sceptical, given their huge backdrop of the standard black metal illegible logo and enormous inverted cross, but about half a minute into the first track I saw, I realised that it was actually rather good... then they announced they were Swedish, the next track was even better... so I ended up staying for the rest of the set, especially as I had a great vantage point on top of one of the huge lumps in the ground. Unleashed turned out to be one of the highlights of the festival, and finished up with a Swedish death metallised version of Manowar's "Into Glory Ride". Fantastic. Meanwhile, as Blind Guardian continued to widdle and diddle on the True Metal stage, SABBAT appeared on the Party Stage. Not Martin Walkyier's legion from Nottingham, this is the Japanese thrash band who bagged the name when the original Walkyier & Sneap version split up at the end of the 80's - hence the need for "Return To The Sabbat" now. This Sabbat played their guitars faster than any other band in the entire festival, and delivered more thrash screams than all the other thrash bands put together. Clearly, they don't do things by halves in Japan. I have no idea whether the lyrics were in English or Japanese - or whether they had any at all - but it really didn't matter. More thrash, please... ...And so there was. It was a wrench to leave half way through Sabbat's set, but the lure of KREATOR on the Black Stage was always going to be too much. As the fifth thrash band of the day and the sixth of the festival, for me, Kreator were the real headliners, even if they were only given 45 minutes to prove themselves. They launched straight into "Violent Revolution" and the pace never let up in a set that included "Extreme Aggression" (yes oh yes), "Pleasure To Kill" and "Flag Of Hate" along with a wholw host of other stuff which I really must go out and buy... as with Exodus, it was all over far too quickly, ending a fair way before the scheduled time, but after the appalling cock-ups on the peripheral stage, anything was possible. Irritatingly, my camera had packed up by this point, so if I get just one photo of Kreator, I'll be more than happy... The thrash attack was soon replaced by the sound of a poor man's Saxon meets AC/DC with a a familiar horribly strangled squawk over the top of it... yes, it's everyone's favourite gay German pensioner, U.D.O.!! And so, the nightmare of Friday night at Graspop 2000 was relived, for 75 painful minutes which seemed like hours, especially at that time of night. Even the old Accept tracks which are supposed to be vaguely passable sounded horrible... and, predictably, the Germans loved it - most of them had stayed there since Blind Guardian's set. Baz sensibly avoided this by watching GREEN CARNATION on the Party Stage, but Udo's strangled screech drowned them out completely... Bonzo, on the other hand, complained long and loud about being too pissed and knackered to get out of the tent to go and see her favourite old man...
By this time it was 2:15 am, but there was just time for one last blast of metal. I'm sure some people went to see HAGGARD on the Party Stage, and those who did complained about how their quiet, subtle bits were drowned out by the mayhem on the Black Stage. That mayhem was provided by ONKEL TOM, usually known as Tom Angelripper, taking a break from his day job in Sodom to perform some German beer drinking songs in a heavy metal style. You heard me right. German beer drinking songs. Some of which I recognise from an old LP record my Dad bought while on holiday in Austria in the 60's. "Schnapps, das war dein letztes Wort", "Der Teufel hat den Schapps gemacht", "Delirium", "In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus", "Bier her, Bier her" and "Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii"! Let's just say that for 45 riotous minutes, the area consisted of much windmill headbanging from the band and about 30 or 40 people on stage, beer being thrown all over the place, semi-naked women, a couple of thousand horifically pissed Germans singing every last word, and all sorts of general arsing around. The carnage finally ended at round about 3 am...
SUNDAY - AND THE AFTERMATH
After an entire day of near non-stop blazing sun, the early start to Sunday morning, with the plan to get off the campsite by 10 am, was met with rain tipping from the sky, which fortunately cleared up by the time we took our tents down. Unbelievably, while taking the tent down, I found my watch under the ground sheet after being convinced it has dropped out on the festival site... Getting out was easy, though getting on a bus wasn't - there was no queue, more of the kind of mob that I had been faced with while trying to get in to see Necrophobic... hence, we missed several buses, and despite trying not to get split up, lost Bonzo as she got on a bus and the other four of us were left stranded. It had been pissing down for an hour by the time we finally barged our way onto an official shuttle bus, arriving in Itzehoe to find some very stroppy ticket machines, more cheap beer and a helpful woman at the checkout who changed a handful of coins for a €20 note for me. Diamond. We were temporarily split up again as Siobhan elected to have a proper dinner at Itzehoe station (she had fillet steak, I made do with a packet of cheese & ham crisps and a couple of beers) while the rest of us decided we'd rather be stuck in Hamburg instead. Still, we arrived in Hamburg at round about 3 pm to find a clock making a convincing inverted cross shape with its hands. In search of food, Bonzo bought some very expensive sushi for €15, Oli and Baz elected for the Bremer (fish cake in a bun, rather awful), while I discovered that Dave T had a good point about the boiled egg and bright-shocking-red salmon sandwiches. Reuniting with Siobhan on the bus to Lübeck airport, we managed to catch the flight back with absolutely no hitches at all. 70-odd minutes in the air ended with the second bounced landing of the trip, and, amazingly, no lost luggage. Gagging for a proper cup of English tea, and possibly with judgement still clouded by the German beer and general knackeredness, we headed for Costa... following Oli's lead I ordered a bacon and egg Tostato! for £2.75, only to find it had less filling in it than a Rolo. It could have been worse, Oli's was burnt. It was expensive and poor quality. But at least it was good to have some proper tea. Being back in Britain meant the bus back to Cambridge was late - no surprises there... but we made the scheduled 50-minute trip in 40 minutes. And I still found the energy from somewhere to walk home and have a much-needed shower. I will never forget washing my hair and seeing black water running down the drain. But neither will I forget the Wacken experience, and I will forever wear my wristband with pride.
Better still, we'll be able to relive it and show everyone else what they missed. On Thursday afternoon I noticed some cameras at the side of the stage during Blaze's set, and he mentioned that, yes, they were filming and it'd be out on a DVD next year. For the time I thought it'd be a "Blaze Live at Wacken" video, then throughout the next two days, I noticed the cameras were on stage for every set. So I assume 2003 will bring us a DVD of all the highlights of Wacken 2002. I'm going to get my order in already.
Highlights of the festival: Destruction, Kreator, Exodus, Bruce Dickinson, Unleashed, "Bier Guardian", Blaze, Bratwurst mit Curryketchup, cheap German beer, finding discarded beer glasses on the floor and trading them in for free beer, getting free food off a random German, and the possibility of seeing it all again on DVD.
Surprises of the festival: Debris Inc., Unleashed, far more mullets at Graspop than at Wacken, James and Andy WP getting their luggage back, finding that "Warriors of the World" isn't so bad after all...
Arsebiscuits of the festival: J.B.O., In Extremo, Wizard, Domine, Blind Guardian, U.D.O., missing Alabama Thunder Pussy, German tea, the lost luggage fiasco, the shuttle buses at the end, Costa's miserable Tostato!
We abhor Ryanair and all their works. Eurostar next year, maybe?