Heavy metal royalty graced the stage at The Factory when Germany's Helloween and Sweden's HammerFall kicked off their United Forces North American tour in Dallas. Fans traveled from Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and many other cities and States to be part of this historic show.
Both bands were on tour in support of killer new albums. HammerFall kicked off the show with "Brotherhood" from their latest release, Hammer of Dawn. Vocalist Joakim Cans voice was in fine form as he belted out favorites "Bloodbound," "Last Man Standing" and "Let the Hammer Fall." Another highlight was a cool medley celebrating the 20th anniversary of HammerFall's seminal album, Crimson Thunder.
Whether playing a Flying V or his trademark giant hammer-shaped guitar, founder guitarist Oscar Dronjak appeared to be everywhere on stage concurrently. Along with former Poodles guitarist Pontus Norgren, original bassist Fredrik Larsson and drummer David Wallin, they blazed through the rest of their set, ending with the classics "Hammers High" and "Hearts of Fire." They may have opened the show, but HammerFall is a true headline act.
Remarkably, it had been 19 years since Helloween had played in Texas. Some changes have been made since then as a few years ago the then current lineup of co-founders guitarist Michael Wiekath and bassist Marcus Grosskopf, vocalist Andi Deris, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Dani Loble welcomed back family members, co-founder/guitarist/vocalist Kai Hanson and the vocal God Michael Kiske! Non-Helloween loyalists can imagine Queensryche's Geoff Tate, in his prime, but only better, and there you have Michael Kiske! Easily one of the best vocalists on the planet and most importantly, the singer from the band's masterpieces, The Keepers of the Seven Keys Part One and Part Two. For Helloween fans this was a dream lineup that they never thought they would see, representing all three eras of the legendary band.
As each of the band members took the stage for the opening number, the fans were insanely enthralled. Drummer Dani Loble's kit sat above a giant pumpkin in the middle of the stage as Helloween opened their 2-hour set with the nearly 15-minute epic "Skyfall" off their latest self-titled release. The song showcased all three singers as well as the band's musical virtuosity. Next up was the classic "Eagle Fly Free" and Kiske's voice gave the crowd literal chills! As the show progressed, Kiske and Deris took turns fronting the band with songs from their respective eras as well as sharing vocals on some of each other's songs. Guitarist Kai Hansen, who was also the vocalist on Helloween's first album, Walls of Jericho, sang a killer medley of songs from his era.
Other highlights included "Future World," "Power," "Dr. Stein" and the beautiful ballad "Forever and One (Neverland)," sung as a duet with Deris and Kiske. As the crowd loudly sang along with each song, the band showed themselves to be having just as much fun onstage, openly joking with each other and having a good time. After so many years apart, the crowd cheered seeing everyone getting along and enjoying the moment together. Their new song, "Best Time," includes the chorus "I will have the best time of my life," and everyone in the building that night certainly did. This magical night came to an end with the encores "Perfect Gentleman," the epic "Keeper of the Seven Keys" and their biggest hit "I Want Out," as giant pumpkin beach balls bounced throughout the venue.
Dont miss this tour as it will easily be the best metal concert of the year. The memories made will be one of the best nights of your life!