I was only 14 when Michael Kiske left HELLOWEEN, so even though it was him singing the songs which made me like the band in the first place, I had never had the chance to see him live. At the same time, when Andi Deris took his place – I can still remember Vanessa Warwick interviewing him on MTV’s Headbangers Ball when “Master Of The Rings” was released, in 1994 – I liked the new songs better. True, his high pitch wasn’t as sharp or as steady as Kiske‘s, so classics such as “Eagle Fly Free” didn’t come out as they should when played live, but I still thought getting Deris had been the perfect decision in order to move forward. So if someone had told me back then I would, one day, see Kiske live with HELLOWEEN, I wouldn’t have believed them; and if someone had told me I would see Kiske AND Deris live, on the same gig, with HELLOWEEN, I would’ve probably believe they were nuts. Turns out that music, just as life, is a big nutty fruit cake and Pumpkins United happened.
Also loved to see Kai Hansen back, even if, in all honesty, there’s no need for three guitars. And ten years (!!!) before, in Madrid, when GAMMA RAY toured with HELLOWEEN, I had the chance to see both bands singing/playing together “Future World” and “I Want Out”, so Hansen on stage with HELLOWEEN wasn’t really a novelty for me. Still, as he co-founded the band in 1983, one will always feel something very special at such sight.
Almost three hours (yes, three!) filled with all kinds of emotion: euphoria, nostalgia… Having Kiske and Deris singing in turns – and Hansen too, as he sang his share on the really old school stuff and also the brand new “Pumpkins United” – was both epic and smart: it gave them enough time to rest their throats and then get back at it as if they were 20 years younger. I was on the verge of tears – happy ones – several times but only once did they fall for real, and not exactly of a cheerful nature: when the video-wall showed Ingo Schwichtenberg and then Dani Löble played his drum solo over Ingo‘s, paying tribute to the deceased original drummer. I had goose bumps all over and at the end, when the whole pavilion screamed “INGO! INGO!” it was impossible not to cry.