Haggard, Crow 7
Eightball Club, Thessaloniki, Greece

Who couldn’t believe that not only one day we would see Haggard in Greece… And not only that, but it seems that they got to like the crowd of our country so much that they became quite often visitors. Third time for them to play in Greece the last 30 months and this time I was finally able to go and see them. I don’t remember why and how, but I missed them the two previous times, so it was a good opportunity to witness their show and how much they were capable of bringing on stage the great atmosphere they create on their studio recordings. Believe it or not, they entered the stage at 23:40 and finished after 2 a.m! for more than two and a half hours they played almost everything, and they also repeated a song once again, it must be the longest indoor concert I have seen since Iced Earth in 2002 (not counting Metallica shows of course).

Crow 7 is a German group which I wonder how they had the luck to tour with Haggard. Not only they don’t have the simpliest commons with them, but they also sound as a third degree band. Concerning their image, I haven’t seen something so irrelevant to a group’s music, as they were presented like gothsters, though they play a prog-like rock-meets-metal style. As far as their music is concerned, they seemed kinda bearable the first two or three songs, but in the 50 minutes they were given, they tired the audience and the good mood and smiles of the singer couldn’t save the whole vibe. They gave some free t-shirts and their bass player is good at growling vocals, but I don’t think we will remember them at all after some years. Operation succeeded, the patient passed away.

Haggard as I mentioned before, made it to the stage a little before midnight, with almost an hour of waiting after Crow 7. To be honest, it was totally worth the wait, they must have played about twenty songs, I lost count from a point and on. There goes the deal: Two guitar players, one bass player, one drummer, one cello player, two girls and a guy as violin players, a girl playing the viola, a girl playing the flute, a girl playing the oboe, the guy on the keyboards, and of course, last but not least, the great blonde soprano with the angelic etherial voice. That makes it thirteen (THIRTEEN, 13, is that clear?) people on the stage. Not bad at all for a demanding live performance, right? They presented songs from all their albums in tremendously great orchestrations and the result was amazing.

What made things even better was the fact that the sound was crystal-like and all the instruments found space to produce an even greater atmosphere. What can I say about the setlist? I have no complaints at all, they played all the songs I would like to listen to and they even put some more colour in their performance with excerpts from Slayer’s ”South Of Heaven” during the first half an hour and ”You Suffer” from Napalm Death (always beloved tune, doesn’t it make you smile each time?), while Asis made an effort for ”Zombie Ritual” by Death, but luckily he didn’t finish it because we would still be there until now. Friendly as always and rather talkative and humorous, he gave space for his whole team, and he was more than great with his vocals. A charismatic musician nonetheless.

After two and a half hours, we were left unable to say much, we keep as highlights the fact that on ”Herr Mannelig” Asis came down to the crowd to play, the a cappela part of ”The Final Victory” (truly a kind of magic) before they play it on its whole, and of course, the fact that they played ”Awaking The Centuries” twice, where Asis would ask the crowd which ones we wanted to listen to. I think they could have been playing five hours non stop. All of the band in tremendous shape and all of them in great mood, with the flute and oboe girls headbanging their asses out when they were not playing. They promised to come back soon, as soon as they finish their next album, which will be a concept regarding the stories of the Brothers Grimm (there is also a great movie about that with Heath Ledger, Matt Damon and Monica Belucci). I guess we’ll see them somewhere in 2012 again, so all we have to do is be patient for another great album by a band who respects the fans and themselves also. Prost!

Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.