On September 25th, 2014, following the release of their 2014 studio album, Space Police: Defenders of the Crown, Edguy made an appearance in Helsinki’s Tavastia during the Space Police World Tour. With Freedom Call, a power metal band from Germany, opening for them, it promised to be an interesting night.
I’ve been spending a surprisingly large amount of time lately checking out gigs from bands that I haven’t devoted much (or any) of my life to. Edguy was one of these bands. This is a band I’ve known of for ages but haven’t spent any significant amount of time listening to. However, I constantly hear so many things about them, I felt like I should check them out live. My familiarity was limited to the time I half-watched them at Tuska some years ago. So I sat down and had a listen through their new album and decided that the songs was growing on me already by the halfway point (and that the bonus track, “England,” was hilarious), and thus I went into the show with enthusiasm that I was going to see a good performance.
Skipping Freedom Call, because I wasn’t sure I could pull off two new bands in one night, I showed up at the gig in time to meet some fans that I know and ask their opinions on the new album. These ranged from, “it’s okay,” up to, “it’s great,” so I wasn’t too off with my own assessment, it seems. The band was about seven or eight minutes late getting on stage but the crowd went nuts when the drummer came up to the platform and dramatically listened for the crowd to cheer before taking his seat. They got things moving with a fun new track, “Love Tyger,” and I couldn’t help but notice that Tobias Sammet (vocals) was in a rather long Victorian-esque coat. Wasn’t that quite warm on stage under all those lights? Will he take it off later? The answer to that, incidentally, was no. No he would not. But I was soon to learn that he has a flair for drama that only a man of significant confidence could pull off, and that sort of man does not take off his coat simply because it’s hot on stage.
The great thing about a charismatic frontman (who speaks a language you understand) is that even if you don’t know the band’s music well, you can still get a real kick out of a performance. Sammet is quite a character, coming off as simultaneously totally charming and an arrogant dick. I mean that in the best way you can possibly say it, as the way he acts almost seems like a joke (perhaps one that I’m behind on) that everyone gets, so he can act that way without seeming remotely off-putting. He talks as though he’s full of himself completely and everyone just laughs. This was particularly evident when he introduced the song “Superheroes” a short way into the set, saying that the song was about one of the best and most talented person he’s known – himself.
It was also worth noting that they are planning to release a video one of these months and this show in Helsinki was being recorded. Of course, Sammet made sure the crowd knew that there was no guarantee they’d use the footage because maybe, just maybe, the crowds in Jyväskylä (Finland) and Gothenburg (Sweden) were better and they would use that footage instead. I wonder if this technique will ever not succeed in getting a crowd to scream at the top of their lungs. It’s the oldest trick in the book and I’ve never seen it fail. However, though he had no trouble getting them to scream “Toby” or “Helsinki” or “Finland,” he wasn’t able to trick nearly as much of the crowd into shouting “Sweden.”
I won’t go so far as to say that I didn’t recognize any songs from the show. “Vain Glory Opera” was a song that I really enjoyed in my youth, which seemed to be an obligatory-level song based on how many people were screaming the words, and of course, their cover of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” rang more than one bell in my memory.
They also had a drum solo performed by Felix Bohnke midway through the night. It started out with some brief drumming, followed by a… recorder solo? He played the 20th Century Fox theme in a manner that could not be considered “in tune” before the stage went black and Darth Vader’s breathing could be heard. The solo then kicked into him playing alongside “Darth Vader’s theme” from Star Wars, which continued on to a straight-up drums-only solo. He stopped for a sort of “I am the one and only” bow, before continuing, making sure to pause frequently to allow the crowd to let out a cheer. When he finished, Sammet came back out and announced, “This is not just an anonymous drum thing! On the drums: the drummer!”
Another newer-older song off the set, “Ministry of Saints,” really impressed me. It had some surprisingly heavy sound for a “kikkeli metal” band. It was a bit reminiscent of some of Helloween’s heavier stuff (The Dark Ride, anyone?) that I was a big fan of. It’s one of those songs that I’ve gone back to after the show to listen to further. What a great live track.
There was also some great humor during the show. Sammet excused himself for forty five seconds after “Ministry of Saints” and came back out with a different, red, marching-band-leader-esque jacket, complete with gold shoulder pads. When someone shouted, “nice jacket!” at him, he responded by saying, thanks, that it was made in Hamburg, but it looks like it was made in Vienna. In fact, it looks like a Christmas tree, and what could be a more appropriate coat when performing a cover of an Austrian pop song?
And of course, when he announced the last song, cries of “boo” rose up from the crowd, but Sammet reassured everyone: “Don’t cry or shoot yourselves,” he advised, for Finland is beautiful and he was sure that more heavy metal bands would come to entertain us, “…even if they are not nearly as good as Edguy.” Naturally, after “Tears of a Mandrake,” they were cheered back to the stage. Sammet said that they didn’t expect to be called back, and they had nothing prepared, so they would have to go ahead and play a song that they haven’t played for… (long pause)… 22 hours! “Lavatory Love Machine”… what a name for a song. What a subject for a song. What a band. After three encore songs, they finally took their bows and the stage went dark for good.
Well, what can I say about this? As a newcomer, I really enjoyed the show. But what did the fans think, ranging from the die-hards, to the ones who weren’t so swept away by the new material? It seems the general consensus was that this was as “Edguy” as a show will get. The friendly, bantering egotism, the energetic music, and the good humor must then be stereotypical of an Edguy concert, and this friendly, arrogant, cocky, and totally captivating group was definitely worth a watch for power metal enthusiasts and skeptics alike!
1. Love Tyger
2. Space Police
3. Out of Vogue
5. Defenders of the Crown
6. Vain Glory Opera
7. Drum solo
8. Ministry of Saints
9. Rock Me Amadeus (Falco cover)
10. Tears of a Mandrake
11. Lavatory Love Machine
12. Save Me
13. King of Fools