When a band has songs called ‘Running Free’ and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, and named after an obscure AC/DC song that a member had as a ringtone, it’s fair to assume they are haunted by the ghost of metal past. A band with a love of 80s metal, growing up in the heartland of power metal, they have a sound that mixes elements of both to great effect.
This 25 track live album sounds immediately familiar (the introduction to the first track, Generation Goodbye, reminds you immediately of ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’, for example). All five of their albums are covered, although the most recent album gets the most attention, with eight of the 24 (not counting the intro) tracks. Addicted to Metal gets the least attention, with only two tracks (and not the title track, which featured Udo on the CD). Money Sex and Power, their second to last album, gets six tracks and the other two older albums get four each.
That’s not to suggest that this band does not have their own sound, they do, it’s just one fans of older metal will appreciate. Lots of gang vocals, harmony leads galore, and riffs that harken back to a golden age. As you’d expect, what you get are faithful renditions of songs already released on studio albums, with the exception of ‘Only the Good Die Young’, which was offered as an acoustic bonus track on their most recent CD, having been initially released on Steel of Swabia in 2008. This song has been re-imagined as a piano ballad, and works well in this format, as well as giving some light and shade to the flow of the show.
The blueprint is pretty well established, with big choruses galore, lots of room for sing alongs and chants, and plenty of guitar solos. This is the sort of music that is always more fun live and the overall impression is of a gig that would have been great to be at.
Being a live album, you often get to hear Johannes Braun yell ‘jump, jump’ or share yells of ‘hey, hey’ with the crowd. He even yells ‘scream for me’ during ‘Running Free’.
It’s not an 80s show without a power ballad, and here a ballad off their most recent album, Generation Goodbye, gets an airing. If clocks were running backwards is a big ballad, the sort of thing that used to get your girlfriend to come to gigs with you. If you close your eyes, you can see people holding lighters in the air. The guitar solo absolutely seals the deal.
Of course, as soon as the ballad ends, the band kicks things back up again with a song called ‘She’s A Killer’. Things kick into higher gear again with ‘Somebody To Hate’, with lots of back and forth sing along.
For those who missed the special edition of Generation Goodbye, the piano version of ‘Only the Good Die Young’ is a worthwhile reason to get this CD on it’s own. It’s a measure of a good song that it sounds good even when you change it’s style completely, and this song works great in this format.
‘Out In The Rain’ and ‘Against The World’ fill out a block of ballads. Jennifer Haben of Beyond the Black joins the band for ‘Masterpiece’, as she did on the album. Hearing a special guest join the band ads to the feeling that this was a special show, and one worth recording.
Song titles like ‘Sex Is War’ give you exactly what you’re expecting and keep proceedings moving. ‘Hashtag Your Life’ is a song about people getting lost in technology and not living life, the film clip showed people taking selfies instead of watching a band play live. It’s preceded by the main bit of chatter on the CD, in German, but it seems to be about exactly that.
A bevy of rocking tracks round out the album, ending with ‘Flying Colours’. The overall impression is of a night worth remembering from a band worth following.