Principal Club Theatre, Thessaloniki, Greece
Three sold out nights in Thessaloniki is something that happens seldomly, unless you are called James and you fill theatres. A big case for Manowar indeed, not meaning that they couldn’t fill a stadium of course. In any occasion, the self pronounced kings of metal came to play to the city after 17 years, and this was a special incident on its own. The best of all was that they were worth the wait and in the end they left all their die-hard fans more than satisfied and proud of them. I must tell you I didn’t believe my eyes at some parts, as I had witnessed their big fiasco in Sofia, Bulgaria last summer, playing at the local Sonisphere. We’re talking about another band that respected their history and most of all, the ones who paid to see them, even three times in a row.
Crosswind were the support band that had the luck and honour to open the shows for them, and they seemed more than ready for this, as their performance was great, regarding the fact that they had a great sound both days and with the help of their vocalist’s amazing voice, they managed to make the crowd shout for them and show respect. Very tied band, they knew this was a lifetime opportunity and each day I saw them played eight songs, lasting 40 minutes in total. The second day were even better, more relieved and more free on the stage. The guitars were louder and the rhythm section and keyboards sounding like crystal. Congratulations to the guys, that may not play the style I like, but none can deny that they gave 101% of their skills. Good luck in the future folks.
Manowar entered the stage with their title song and amok filled the place (both days). Celebrating 30 years from the release of their first album ”Battle Hymns”, they presented the whole album to the fans and it was more than nostalgic to listen to tracks like ”Death Tone”, ”Metal Daze”, ”Fast Taker”, and ”Shell Shock” live. But the real deal of the album was always the duo of ”Dark Avenger” (praises be the mighty Orson Welles) with its gigantic feeling and of course, ”Battle Hymn” with drummer Donnie Hamzik smashing his set on this one. True epic feeling with fans shouting, banging or even crying (everything can happen on a Manowar show as you can see). The first album’s suite was done and it was time to go on with tracks from their three decade career.
”Brothers Of Metal” was the first track to break the silence, followed by the Manowar landmark ”Blood Of My Enemies”. Colossal and extremely loud sound, with my ears suffering pleasantly from the whole tension. ”Thor (The Powerhead)” was next and two tracks from ”Kings Of Metal” followed, with the title track first and ”Heart Of Steel” following (a tremendous participation of the crowd, especially on the second day where there were more people). The band seems invincible, with no talking or bullshiting and it’s ”Warriors Of The World” that creates a whole grooving atmosphere. This time there was a great version of ”Hail And Kill” and then followed some newer ones such as ”House Of Death”, ”Thunder In The Sky”, and ”Hand Of Doom, with ”Power” closing the main setlist (big surprise) !
Joey DeMaio gave a pure heavy metal speech in Greek both days with others coming to an orgasm, others laughing their asses out and some just don’t giving a fuck. But to be honest, it was a moment you don’t come to see very often, it really gave a special character to the whole situation. After this, Manowar returned to play ”Black Wind, Fire And Steel” to end the show (the first day), while on the second day they played ”Sign Of The Hammer” after that (even bigger surprise). They left the stage triumphant and with the full response of their crowd. The smiles on their faces couldn’t hide they were happy too and even DeMaio was looking at the crowd astonished in many moments of the gigs.
What you read about the first day was twice or three times better on the second day, where Manowar played two full hours, adding tracks such as ”God Or Man” and ”Let The Gods Decide”. The third day I didn’t attend the show but I was informed they played ”Fighting The World”, ”A Call To Arms”, ”The Gods Made Heavy Metal”, ”Sons Of Odin” and ”King Of Kings” instead, among most of the tracks they played the previous two days. Manowar managed to show who they really are when they want to and left no doubt about their intention to reward the ones that are still close to them. With such gigs, it’s more than certain they will be playing in Greece as long as they can last. I reached almost 30 years old to see them like this but in the end, I was more than touched. I hope until they decide to call it a day to go on like this and if they don’t release an album, an honoured split-up with a last world tour would be the best. They can claim this time that they sounded like kings indeed…
Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.