KAI HANSEN - Thank You Wacken
August 13, 2017, a year ago
I was critical of the Gamma Ray mastermind's solo effort, XXX Three Decades In Metal, a guest star filled project that failed to live up to the material Herr Hansen regularly generates in his day job. So when he played Wacken Open Air last year, as a solo artist, he wisely sought to cherry pick the stronger material from said platter, augmented with Helloween chestnuts. Reported to be the only Hansen & Friends show ever (Wacken loves an exclusive/spectacle), couldn't help but have additional guests onstage , so Kai called out the male and female singers from Vision Of Atlantis, Unisonic pal Michael Kiske (“I Want Out”/ “Future World”) and Frank Beck, who now handles some of the vocals in Gamma Ray.
The solo album was not released by this August gig. The opening “Born Free” wins over the skeptics right away. Along with “Follow The Sun” they're rousing guitar driven numbers that would not be out of place on a Rayniac or Weenie setlist. Backed with “Ride The Sky”, a track that has seen time in concert with both of those outfits, does nothing to dissipate the energy. It's the first of five vintage Helloween inclusions. Initially addressing the multi-national crowd in German, he quickly switches over to English, not that there's a lot of stage banter during the festival appearance, apart from highlighting those who stroll onstage. “Contract Song” is an infectious little ditty about the evils of the music business, nestled nicely before speedy “Victim Of Fate” (Beck on vocals). Prior to the guitar break, “Enemies Of Fun” is a slow stomper, with an AC/DC quality, especially the gritty voice. Clementine Delauney handles vocals for “Fire & Ice”, semi-ballad that comes close to thrash, during the break. The Vision Of Atlantis chanteuse appears regularly, in the latter half of the dozen tracks. The pop of “Burning Bridges” and modern rock closer “All Or Nothing” are the lone spoilers of an otherwise fun day.