Although coming under the 'United Forces' banner, with their name at the top of the poster, Helloween were always going to be the rightful headliners, and though they had a tough act to follow, the Germans took no quarter from the off.
Following on from their outstanding 2017 London show that saw the Pumpkins Reunited in their expanded form perform for the first time on British soil, tonight's show came on the back of the long-awaited release of a brand new album.
The metal event of 2021, the self-titled 'Halloween' marked a colossal return to form, not least with the progressive masterpiece 'Skyfall', so it was only fitting that the band open with it tonight. Brilliantly utilising all three vocalists - Michael Kiske, Andi Deris, and Kai Hansen - and traversing various moods, styles and shades, the twelve minute epic proved the perfect show opener, setting the scene for an evening which would prove a metal masterclass.
Following with the soaring 'Eagle Fly Free', the playoff between Kiske and Deris illustrated just how effectively the pair work together, as they traded lines and harmonised gloriously. Not to be outdone, even at this early stage the instrumentalists took solos.
Greeting the crowd to a deafening roar, and referencing their enforced pandemic layoff, Kiske admitted; "you cant imagine how that feels after two and a half years". Continuing in his own inimitable style, the singer said; "I used the time to get fat!"
The pair, who have shared a bromance since uniting in 2016, continued to shine on new track 'Mass Pollution', proving that Helloween have not just one, but two of the best singers in metal in their ranks.
Moving on to a tag team system, Kiske took on an impassioned 'Future World', while Deris returned for "one of my favourite songs from my first album with the band", in 'Master of the Rings' classic 'Where the Rain Grows'.
Of course, Helloween has three distinct eras, and stepping aside for "the man who started it all", Deris handed fronting duties over to founder and original singer Kai Hansen. "It's a pleasure to be back with Helloween", said the guitarist; "it's time to play some '80s German heavy metal!"
Blasting through an extended 'Walls of Jericho' medley which was the highlight of the night for many diehards, the relentless proto-metal assault gave way to a welcome change of pace in 'Forever and One (Neverland)'. Welcoming back Michael Kiske and Andi Deris, it was a thrill to hear the singers trade verses for this Deris-era power ballad.
From there it was the 'hits' that saw the main set out, with a trio of career-spanning tracks including latest single and 2021 album highlight 'Best Times', a nostalgia-inducing 'Dr Stein, and a simply glorious 'How Many Tears' (complete with 'Skyfall' reprise).
Encoring with 'Keeper I' highlight 'The Tale That Wasn't Right', before wrapping up with a simply stunning 'Keeper of the Seven Keys', it was the perfect way to end the night. All that was left was a riotous run through a celebratory 'I Want Out', before the band took their bows on hat had been a fantastic night of metal mayhem.
Helloween & Hammerfall's 'United Forces' continues across Europe.
23.05.2022 FR Lyon - Transbordeur *
25.05.2022 FR Paris - Olympia *
28.06.2022 HU Budapest - Papp Laszlo Sportarena
29.06.2022 AT Vienna - Gasometer
30.06.2022 CZ Prague - O2
02.07.2022 SK Zvolenska Slatina OLYMPIC Fields - Open Air
27.08.2022 IT Milan - Ippodromo San Siro - Open Air *
08.09.2022 DE Berlin - Verti Music Hall
09.09.2022 DE Regensburg - Donau Arena
10.09.2022 DE Bamberg - Brose Arena
13.09.2022 NL Tilburg - 013
14.09.2022 LU Luxemburg - Rockhal
16.09.2022 DE Stuttgart - Schleyerhalle
18.09.2022 PL Katowice - MCK
13.10.2022 BG Sofia - Arena Armeec
09.12.2022 DE Frankfurt - Jahrhunderthalle
11.12.2022 DE Kempten - Big Box
13.12.2022 CH Zurich - Samsung Hall
03.02.2023 ES Barcelona - St. Jordi Club
04.02.2023 ES Madrid - Wizink Center
28.04.2023 NO Oslo - Sentrum Scene
29.04.2023 SE Göteborg - Partille Arena
01.05.2023 FI Helsinki - Black Box
02.05.2023 EE Tallinn - Noblessneri Valukoda
05.05.2023 DE Bochum - Ruhrcongress
06.05.2023 DE Hamburg - Sporthalle