Beast in Black / Firewind @ Z7 Pratteln
10.2.2023 @ Konzertfabrik Z7 Pratteln, Switzerland
Shame on me, yes, I am one of those people who have never seen Beast in Black live and actually only know the song «Sweet True Lies». But everybody thinks that this band has a lot to offer, therefore I have to watch those guys on home ground at Z7 where they are stopping by on their Dark Connection European Tour.
Together with the opener Firewind, we get a load of finest Heavy Metal today. The first time I saw Firewind was when Chitral Somapala was still on the microphone, also here at Z7, back then together with the Finns Thunderstone. Today they share the stage with a Thunderstone member, who wasn’t even in the band back then: Atte Palokangas, he now also swings the drumsticks for Beast in Black. Firewind had to go through several singer changes in all these years, but I think that they have found a quite suitable voice for their music: Herbie Langhans. The gentlemen around mastermind and guitar hero Gus G. certainly don’t have the easiest task to satisfy Gus’ performance demands. Tonight they put the Z7audience in a great mood and shorten the waiting time for the main act. Somehow it seems there are less guitar soli than usual, maybe Gus realized that audiences prefer to sing along to guitar soli. The Firewind seems almost too short despite 45 min playtime. Let’s hope the guys come back soon, maybe as the main act.
After half an hour, the lights go out and the robot ladies’ lights in the tank come on – the Finns Beast in Black have an impressive stage decoration, apparently learning something from their monster colleagues Lordi. They show that you can get a lot out of a stage without much ado, but the Dolls could have been placed a bit further at the front for better visibility. Unfortunately, the stage is flooded with fog, which makes not only the Robodolls disappear completely at times. The only one who shines brightly on stage in the spotlights all the time, as if on a throne, is drummer Atte. Well, I could watch him play for hours, because he just radiates such joy with a huge smile on his face.
The gentlemen placed further forward on stage are well shrouded in fog most of the time, therefore getting good photos is wishful thinking. But we are not here for the photos in the first place, but for a good concert. It is immediately apparent that something is not quite right with Yannis Papadopoulos’ voice. Normally he gets into very high registers, which he mostly refrains from doing today. After a few songs he also reveals the reason for this, the flu hit him badly and he has a 39° fever, but he just couldn’t bring himself to cancel a sold-out show at Z7, despite his poor health. Kudos to this man, he pushes through the whole scheduled set list including three encores, although you can see how difficult it is for him to even breathe at times. Interestingly, his voice still sounds very appealing; Yannis could hit lower notes more often in the future. In my opinion it’s a phenomenal performance despite the flu. Sometimes I even worry that it’s suddenly becoming too much for him and he would simply keel over, but he bravely fights through and the audience in the sold-out hall thanks him and his fellow musicians with “Beast in Black” chants and vigorous singing along. Yannis is visibly moved by this support and the joy of the crowd, who let themselves be carried along by the music, and at the end he thanks them again for their support and understanding that he couldn’t perform quite as usual.
It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced such a great atmosphere in the Z7, and certainly not such an entertaining concert. Now I also understand why everyone thinks this band is so great. Even if the vocals on record are sometimes just too high for me, Beast in Black have great songwriting and are fantastic on stage, these guys will still be heard from in the upcoming years.