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ROD'S DIARY - WACKEN
Wacken is a village with a population of under 2000 about an hour's drive out of Hamburg in Northern Germany. Here was born (I wont say when!) a couple of illustrious gentlemen, Thomas Jensen and Holger Hubner, lifelong friends who both grew up to be big metal fans. Not getting enough metal in their home village they decided 19 years ago to start their own festival, which they called simply Wacken. Going bust a couple of times did not deter them, they just rethought it and ploughed on regardless driven by a love of the music. Along the way Thomas married Sheree and enlisted her very able support, and this year they added our old mate Wolgang Rott to the team, someone who is very familiar to us having been our PR in Germany for many years at CMM.
Yours truly with Thomas and Wolfgang
Dave and Nicko pose with Thomas and Sheree
I first visited the festival when I had Helloween playing there, sometime in the early nineties, I think, and I was blown away. They had 3 stages, but, unlike most festivals which would have a large stage for the main acts and two smaller for the others, all 3 stages were headline size! It was most obviously a festival run by metal fans for metal fans, and all the organisational detail appeared top notch. There were probably about 15,000 or so fans there then. Initially in 1989 about 800 fans attended, growing to around 15,000 or so in the 90's, 40,000 in 2005, 60,000 in 2006 and now, on it's 19th birthday, 70,000. Is there no end??!! And its and still run by Thomas, Holger and Sheree, quite a remarkable achievement.
Wacken metal warriors
We have been hoping to play there for many years but our European schedule tended to be in late May, June and early July which made it difficult as the festival is always at the very end of July and beginning of August, but this year for a number of reasons we are touring a bit later so we jumped at the chance of playing and in fact we agreed terms straight after Wacken 07 and announced it with tickets going on sale immediately in mid August 2007. With the first 10,000 tickets selling within 36 hours of the announcement and the fastest sell out ever in its history, the capacity was increased to bring it up to a huge 70,000, with fans coming into this major metal event from not only all parts of Germany but also many parts of the World. There are few hotels in a place the size of Wacken so everyone camps for this 3 day event, a massive undertaking organisationally with all the required facilities for such an astronomical number of campers!
What a pleasant backstage area
Classy backstage catering
Drink responsibly... at Wacken?
The village itself was of course initially concerned over an invasion of even a few hundred or so metal heads, but quickly the community realised the nature of the fans would not be troublesome, they were there for the music and the metal community spirit (and a few beers no doubt) and soon the fans were welcomed to this small village with open arms, especially I would think by bar and shop owners!! More recently the German media has paid a lot of attention to this massive annual event giving the festival great prestige there
For fuller details of the history of Wacken and this years line up go to www.wacken.com
I get to meet the lovely Doro Pesch
We were delayed getting there so I missed out on seeing the other bands but as soon as you arrive you get the spirit of the event. Organised backsage to the utmost detail it really is a great set up and the ariel shot included here shows the sheer scale of the event with thousands of tents surrounding the two main stages, the Black and True Metal stages, and two smaller, the Party stage and the Wacken Evolution Tent.
On arrival I caught up with Thomas and Wofgang, did a couple of news interviews about Wacken and saw a variety of old friends. Thomas and Holger had also arranged some special placques for the band and myself to commerate out appearance here at Wacken. When time to go on we took the long walk through a field to the stage. Out front was a sea of marquees and people, with screens and PA relaying our performace to every cormer of the site, and the view from on stage was breathtaking. I watched from initially the pit, where a continuous stream of fans were helped over the front of stage barriers, and then from onstage. And thanks all you fans there for a magnificent reaction!! The show went off without a hitch and the band are playing just great.
Backstage games The team get busy
Afterwards the band headed straight back to the Hamburg Hotel bar but I delayed an hour or so for a few beers with everyone and eventually got back to the bar to find most still there.
A great event and a great day. Thanks Wacken!! It was an honour!!
Ps - I didn't got to Greece or Bucharest as it was Jake's 12th Birthday yesterday and I wanted to spend some time with my family before they go back to school so sorry no diary for these 2 shows, but the band tell me that both were terrific shows with tremendous audiences. We go to Warsaw on Thursday so more soon after that.