13 April 2014, FZW, Dortmund, Germany (Photos by Stefanie Oepen on Flickr)
So how does someone who does not even listen to Metal end up seeing three Metal bands in one night? The answer to this question lies in the music of Van Canto, the main act oft the night. After I’d heard a few of their songs, I wanted to know what A Capella Metal sounds like live. At the FZW in Dortmund I got just that and apart from the amazing Van Canto I got to hear Winterstorm and Orden Ogan as well. Both bands got a good response. With an almost full house and an enthusiastic audience this was a concert that exceeded all of my expectations.
Winterstorm were the opening band of the evening and immediately got the audience going. They were clapping and singing along as if everyone had been waiting for this band and Winterstorm played just as enthusiastically as they were received. They started powerfully and to the fans’ great delight their second number was a cover of Van Canto’s current single “Badaboom”. Afterwards they joked about confusing the setlists and called for Stef of Van Canto to help them out. He came out with the entire band who proceeded to put up a banner with the word “Winterdienst” (winter services) behind the drums and announced they had renamed Winterstorm to that. Each band member received a reflective vest to go with the new name as well. They explained this was the last concert of the tour and thus the perfect time to play jokes on each other. Last but not least Winterstorm were showered in artificial snow before everyone but Stef left stage again and he stayed for one song. The good mood on stage was contagious and spread to the audience immediately. When they ended their 45 minutes set everyone yelled for an encore chanting “Winterdienst! Winterdienst!” They got to play one more song. This is what a good support act looks like.
Before the start of the concert as well as during the intermissions between bands loud calls of “Rakkatakka” could be heard and got the crowd going. Yet, before we got to hear some “Rakkatakka” the second support Orden Ogan was playing. They rocked the house as well, and asked everyone to yell and scream until they felt it was loud enough. Funnily enough, some of the loudest yells were elicited when they suddenly forgot they were in Dortmund and addressed “Hamburg” instead. They corrected that soon and immediately asked everyone to yell some more. Luckily Orden Ogan were not taking themselves seriously, had fun and played a solid set that kept the audience going. I found them a little less inspiring than Winterstorm, but good nonetheless and especially well suited to be a support act. They played around 45 minutes as well before saying goodbye and clearing the stage for Van Canto.
Everything but the drums was taken off the stage since the band only needs percussion and microphones to do their job. Soon they walked on stage to the sound of “Dawn of the Brave” and while they were up there they were constantly on the move. They were jumping up and down, stepping on the drum riser, running back and forth and getting in touch with the audience. The crowd reacted enthusiastically from the very first note, people were clapping, jumping, singing, dancing and head-banging from the front row to the back of the venue. Here, people were raising hands in the air and not, as can be seen at so many concerts these days, cameras, phones or iPads. I was under the impression that this audience was more interested in experiencing this concert than recording it for youTube – kudos for that! The band thanked them by giving it all they had. With lots of energy and fun Van canto rocked the house, always moving and never singing a wrong note while doing so.
The setlist was a good mix of newer songs and old, their own material as well as covers. The single “Badaboom” deserved to be there just as much as their version of Black Sabbath’ “Paranoid”. Just as they were trying to take us to Finland with Nightwish’s “Wishmaster”, Winterstorm entered the stage, still wearing their reflective vests and carrying brooms. They immediately set out to sweep the stage. This caused laughter and a few duels between broom guitars and air guitars, while everyone was still keeping the beat. Later on, during “The other ones” two members of Winterstorm walked across stage dressed in towels and brushing their teeth. Still, the focus was always on the music and the band treated us to an incredible show. This is how a good concert should sound and this is how a great atmosphere feels like to me. It was so intoxicating I could not help but let the music carry me. Looking at the happy faces around me I saw that many seemed to share my opinion
Mid-set drummer Basti stayed on stage alone for a solo. Before Inga, Sly, Ross, Stef and Ike returned, he conducted a choir of “Rakkatakka” and “Badaboom” with the audience. Part two of the set continued with full force. Apart from the clear and crisp sound the lights were perfectly tuned to the show. Everything fit and nothing was missing.
Van Canto were in a great mood and seemed to want to stop as little as the fans wanted them too. Unfortunately, even this concert had to end some time and after 13 songs it was over. They did not make us wait long before returning for encores though. Their own “If I die in battle” and Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” were the last two songs of the night before they said goodbye. Even though I could not really imagine how A Capella Metal would work live, I learned a lot that night. It was a really amazing concert.
Author: Stefanie Oepen