It felt like a day didn’t pass since the last time I went to a big open-air concert. Even if it was three years due to the well-known situation. On another very hot day, the people in Plateia Nerou had started to gather early. A few brave ones decided to stand in front of the stage under the sun, while the rest waited patiently where there was shade. Fortunately, a light, cool breeze was blowing that made the situation more bearable.
At the scheduled time, 17.50 that is, Meden Agan took the role to “open” the show and warm up the few people who had already been “baked” by the strong sun. Every time I had the chance to see the band live, their sound was problematic, but now the problems were few and the band managed to give a good performance by feeling at ease on the stage, presenting songs mainly from their latest album while they concluded their performance with one of their new ones. It’s a shame, certainly not the band’s responsibility, the only twenty-five minute set. An unthinkable brief spot for a festival with the participation of four bands. Why did it take 45 whole minutes for the change over until Rhapsody Of Fire’s performance?
Rhapsody of Fire
Three years since their last visit to Greece, Rhapsody of Fire appeared once again at the Release Athens Festival and truth be told here right from the start, they were absolutely phenomenal despite some technical issues that they encountered with the sound system. As a matter of fact, they were forced to leave the stage for five minutes to resolve the issue but that didn’t deter them at all! Not even slightly. I know that most of the metal fans cherish the first period of the Rhpasody saga but let me tell you that the Italian outfit keeps on releasing remarkable albums. As it was expected, during their 60-minute set was heavily based on their two last albums (with the song “Chains of Destiny” being the absolute highlight) while it goes almost without saying that everybody was screaming their lungs out during the performance of the classics “The March of the Swordmaster”, “Dawn of Victory”, “Land of Immortals” and “Emerald Sword” (which was the closing number). MVP of the show was non other than then extraordinary frontman Giacomo Voli while Rhapsody of Fire’s leader, Alex Staropoli, was as imposing as ever behind the keyboards.
The time had come for the biggest band in our country when the sun had set for good. The fact that this was their only appearance on Greek soil in 2022 shows even more their status, since they do not stop touring. On stage were two fallen crosses to the right and left of Themis’ drum set, while in front there were the letters ΧΞΣ (Greek writing for 666) in a prominent place. They began as expected with “666” and followed by a surprise with “P’unchau Kachun – Tuta Kachun”, which I personally think I have never heard in their concerts (and I see them very often). The classic “Athanati Este” fired up the crowd even more, while I cannot help but comment on the fact that this band manages with great ease to make songs that you would say are anti-concert (“Elthe Kyrie”, “Apage Satana”) to be heard so great on stage.
Diving into the past with the titanic “King Of A Stellar War” and “Fgmenth, Thy Gift” brought chills as well as the first hand flare of the night from a brainless orc (unfortunately many more would follow during the headliners), while the first and only pit opened in “Societas Satanas” that I think Sakis somewhat regrets that he entered an album of Thou Art Lord and not of Rotting Christ. In general, the band once again showed that it belongs to that closed club of groups that, although they basically have an extreme background, wherever they play, in front of any audience, they will gain the respect of everyone and will fire up the metal fans without any problem. Sakis and Themis continue undeterred with hunger and faith in their vision while I really enjoy seeing the comfort, development and energy that Kostas Heliotis (bass) and the amazing Kostis Foukarakis (guitars) bring out on stage. They close as they should, with the historic “Non Serviam”, which again made thousands of people shout these two words that define the Rotting Christ mentality for so many years now. Simply excellent.
Setlist: 666, P’unchau Kachun-Tuta Kachun, Athanati Este, Elthe Kyrie, Apage Satana, Dies Irae, King Of A Stellar War, Fgmenth Thy Gift, Societas Satanas (Thou Art Lord), In Yumen-Xibalba, Grandis Spiritus Diavolos, Non Serviam
ERIC ADAMS! Let me repeat this name once again: ERIC ADAMS also known as the best heavy metal singer of the universe who retains a sensational voice at the age of 70! Yes, you read it correctly. Eric Adams is 70 years old and man, he got some pipes!!! Manowar is one of the most beloved bands in Greece and from the very early hours of the afternoon, lots of fans packed the open venue. At 11 o’ clock sharp and after the emblematic intro: Ladies and gentlemen, from the United States of America…all hail…Manowar, the first notes of the title track rushed through the gigantic PA system! The sound was powerful and crystal clear although I gotta say that something was missing from the overall guitar sound. Also, the two relatively new members were obviously nervous but that didn’t stop Manowar delivering the goods…as always! Joey DeMaio was the ever imposing figure that ruled the stage with his majestic presence.
The set list was really good and representative of Manowar’s career although I am sure that many missed a couple of songs but you can only fit that many songs in a 2-hour set….right? The surprise of the evening was the exclusive presentation of five parts of “The Revenge of Odysseus” that featured Greek actor Konstantinos Kazakos on stage (portraying an ancient Greek warrior) and female singer Chiara Tricarico on a duet with Adams during “Where Eagles Fly”. A few minutes ago, famous Scottish actor James Cosmo appeared on stage as a narrator before the song “Sword of the Highlands”. And all these as cinematic excerpts and animations were played on the huge video screen behind the stage. Quite a treat, if you ask me.
Song highlights include: “Warriors of the World”, “Battle Hymn”, “Sign of the Hammer”, “Holy War”, “Hail and Kill”, “Black Wind, Fire and Steel” while everybody was singing along during the performance of “Dark Avenger”, “Defender” and “Gates of Valhalla”. Last but certainly not least the inclusion of “The Gory of Achilles” in the encore. It was yet another bombastic show by the true metal kings! All hail…Manowar!
Mixed emotions? How should I describe it? Awesome show by Rhapsody Of Fire, great show by Rotting Christ and problematic one by Manowar. At least there was this titan Eric Adams who defies the laws of nature and logic and dropped our jaws to the ground every time he opened his mouth to sing. Phenomenon. Another big open-air concert has come to an end. Let’s go for the next ones.