Helloween: Pumpkins United Tour – Hollywood Palladium – 9/8/18

Helloween’s Pumpkins did indeed Unite at the Palladium on Saturday and delivered a blistering 3 hour set encompassing the 34 Year History of the fabled German Powerhouse band.

This show is a dream for Helloween fans young and old alike.  Bringing back the original living members of the band to mesh with the current lineup and thrash out their respective eras is a feat that most band’s egos wouldn’t allow them to undertake. Everyone appeared to be having a blast, with the additional members and expanded setlist.

The band has evolved into a 7-piece act that now includes Michael Kiske and Andi Deris sharing vocals, Kai Hansen (Guitar, Lead Vocals), Markus Grosskopf (Bass), Michael Weikath (Guitar), Sascha Gerstner (Guitar) and Daniel Loble (Drums).  

 

So how was it going to work? Two vocalists (3 actually), one of which who has been taking on the whole setlist and early catalog (with ease I may add) for over two decades.  Would they split the set in half? Handle their own songs while the other takes a break for chunks at a time…? No way…These Pumpkins after all are United.  Right from the start of opening song, “Halloween“, both singers came out and traded off portions of the songs with each other.  Michael, then Andi, then both together.  Huge grins slapped across their faces the whole evening.  The band camaraderie was very apparent between everyone.

The setlist covered the gamut from origin to present. Both “Keeper of The Seven Key’s Part I and II” albums were rightfully honored as was a great selection from Andi’s, 24+ years at the helm. They’ve tweaked the set a little bit for this leg and have added “Waiting For The Thunder” from Andi’s tenure, and from Michael’s, a very enthusiastically welcomed, “A Tale That Wasn’t Right“, which hadn’t been performed since the 1987 tour.  Also included was the full length version of “Keeper of the Seven Keys“, which had only been partially played on the first half of the tour. Bookending the show with the two epic Keeper songs was an amazing treat. Also included was a brand new song recorded for this tour, appropriately entitled, “Pumpkins United“.

During the evening on the large video screen behind the band, two mischievous cartoon Pumpkins, Seth and Doc, would help introduce each song via little sketches.  Each snippet saw them throwing different items into a cauldron, which powered a time machine, that spun a ring, that had all of the Helloween album covers engraved onto it.

A highlight for the old-time fans was when Kai Hansen took lead vocal duties on a selection of songs from Helloween’s debut album, “Walls Of Jericho“. A quick outfit change that saw him adorned in sleeveless leather vest and leather military hat, Kai stood front and center to scream out a medley that included, “Starlight“, “Ride The Sky” and “Judas“, followed by “Heavy Metal Is The Law“, which saw the crowd swirl into the first mosh pits of the evening. Another great moment was during “How Many Tears” from the original album that saw all 3 singers exchanging lead vocal duties.

Each member had ample opportunity to showcase their skills.  Solos from All 3 guitarists and a drum solo from Daniel Loble which saw him playing with and honoring (via archived video) Helloween’s original drummer, the dearly departed, Ingo Schwichtenberg. This was followed by a sea of “horns” and chants of “Ingo, Ingo…” from the sweaty, packed Palladium crowd.

Founding bassist, Markus Grosskopf pranced around with a grin from ear to ear, playfully engaging Deris and Kiske for most of the evening.  Conversely, founding guitarist, Michael Weikath’s unsmiling expression didn’t change once, which I’m told in Germany means he was having the time of his life.  Sascha Gerstner, being the youngest member of the group, grinned and interacted with the crowd all night long.

 

Both Andi Deris and Michael Kiske sounded amazing.  Almost every song was originally written and sung in a high register, and these two pros sounded incredible for the entire evening.  Sure, there were a couple of notes that weren’t quite reached, but as I mentioned before, these guys are playing a 3 hour set each night.  

The Pumpkins United Tour is set to run through the end of the year and then, at the request of their Nuclear Blast Label, the seven piece band will go into the studio to record a full length album due in 2020, with Deris, Weikath and Hansen set to act as the main songwriters.

This tour is one for the books. There have been similar merging of bands past and present, (most recently Michael Schenker Fest which brought back Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley on vocals), but I haven’t seen any that have embraced the experience with a nod to the future like Helloween have.

Full Helloween Gallery: Here

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