Spec. Guest: HammerFall

The YouTube Theater – Inglewood, CA

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

Review/Pics: Will

The Pumpkins remain United!  German power metallers, Helloween, fresh off their recent induction into the Heavy Metal Hall Of Fame returned to So. Cal and delivered a blistering set of the new and the old on the penultimate date of their “United Forces” U.S. tour.

I’m still of the opinion that in the case of Helloween, less is definitely NOT more.  More Helloween is still and will always be better.  You have all three of the band’s vocalists in (order) Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Andi Deris, spanning their almost 40 year career.  Their two original guitarists Kai and Michael Weikath, original bassist, Markus Grosskopf and the energy of newest members, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Daniel Löble that allows the band to authentically bring you the evolution of Helloween’s music through the ages.


And that is exactly what we got as all 3 vocalists traded off songs and at times joined “forces” to compliment each other, with everyone taking turns with lead and harmonies.

The majority of the setlist on this tour came from “Keeper… II” and their latest (really great) album, the self-titled, “Helloween“.  Michael and Andi logically handled the majority of the set, but Kai Hansen’s vocals got a workout as he showcased an amazing medley from Helloween’s full-length debut album, “Walls Of Jericho

And Holy shit, that WOJ Medley “Metal Invaders / Victim of Fate / Gorgar / Ride the Sky / Heavy Metal Is The Law” had Hansen reaching into deep places to pull out some of those screams!!!  If Helloween had carried on in this vein, I have no doubt they’d be known as one of the premier thrash bands of all time.

But Helloween are much more than that.  They’ve got elements of prog. (“Skyfall“, “Keeper of the Seven Keys“), they’ve got ballads, as showcased with Andi and Michael grabbing some stools and belting out a duet of “Forever And One (Neverland)“, all wrapped up with a combination of current events and humor (ala “Eagle Fly Free“, “Dr Stein” and “Perfect Gentleman“).

A large video screen showcased accompanying animation for each song. Tons of Pumpkins in various scenarios with the otherworldly “Keeper” making several appearances.

Speaking of appearances, after a great solo on his signature “Pace 1” Sustainiac guitar by Sascha Gerstner (which had a very emo, 80’s feel), Andi introduced a special guest; wrestler and Fozzy frontman, Chris Jericho. (Walls Of) Jericho joined the band on vocals for “Best Time“.  And that is indeed what it looked like he was having…

After the main set ended, the band left the stage and after numerous “Helloween” chants from the crowd, they returned with Andi in a top hat to sing “Perfect Gentleman“.  After that was a killer version of “Keeper Of The Seven Keys“, again with all 3 vocalists taking turns.

That led to set closer and their biggest hit, “I Want Out” which had the band and crew throwing out about 20 huge black and orange “pumpkin” balloons for the crowd to smack around.

Helloween at YouTube Theater, Inglewood, CA, USA Setlist


Damn the Swede’s are on FIRE!  We had the Sleazy Sunset Strip Scene of the 80’s, The Grunge of Seattle in the 90’s.. let’s Fast Forward through most of the schlock that has been the 00’s so far..but if you shift your eyes and ears to Europe, you’ll see one hell of a Metal and Rock scene re-emerging from Sweden.  The days of Abba are long gone.  Sweden is Rock Central with established bands like Ghost, Amon Amarth, and Arch Enemy among the larger names.  But here in the States, it’s time to open your eyes and ears to acts like H.E.A.T., Nestor, Crazy Lixx, Hardcore Superstar and HammerFall

HammerFall are another power metal band and were the perfect compliment as a Special Guest to Helloween

HammerFall are founding guitarist, Oscar Dronjack, singer Joacim Cans, guitarist Pontus Norgren, bassist Fredrik Larsson and drummer David Wallin.

Although I may be late to the HammerFall fanbase, clearly the LA Crowd were in the know with an abnormally large crowd for an opening act in So. Cal on a Friday evening.  Not only were they early, they were in fine voice.  Right from the get-go with set opener, “Brotherhood“, fists were pumping and the crowd sang along to very song.

I did some “homework” prior to the show and quickly became familiar with the songs that would be performed and I’m so happy I did.  I found myself singing along to the choruses I remembered and came away from the show ready to order their catalog.

I also want to give a shout out to bassist, Frederik Larsson who took a tumble mid set on a wet spot on the stage, but like a pro, didn’t miss a beat as he hit the deck.  Also some bad form from Joacim who as you can see instead of helping him up, well..  you can see. 🙂

Killer riffs and melodies with memorable choruses and a ton of energy, HammerFall live are now on my “can’t miss band” list.

HammerFall at YouTube Theater, Inglewood, CA, USA Setlist

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