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metal talk

21st June 2011

jonathan churchill

hammersmith apollo

It's Tuesday night at the Apollo and Ozzy's playing a seriously great set with a superb new band when suddenly the magic happens... One of those moments when you realise just how good it is to be alive and just why Heavy Metal rules the world!

The crowd is simmering, coming to the boil. Ozzy's having fun and the band are on fire but there's something missing... but it's coming... and Ozzy tells us there's one song left - but if we make a noise he'll play more.

As the chants of "Ozzy" swell and the excitement builds, suddenly it happens... the immortal cry from the Metal heavens: "ALL ABOAAAARRRRD..." and we're off. Every single person in the venue riding the Crazy Train to one of the greatest Metal moments I've witnessed in twenty years!

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Hammersmith explodes as Ozzy starts chucking buckets of water on the crowd and firing his foam hose at the front row. To my left and right grown men are jumping, shouting and singing, while the band are so on their game that every note is perfect and this incredible song, 'Crazy Train', feels bigger and louder than anything else tonight. Ozzy seems to come alive, sounding vintage, dragging the notes back from the 80s and clearly loving every moment.

And then it's over. Dark. Except Ozzy's not done. From backstage there's a roar... "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

With the crowd fit to blow the roof off the band are back for the encore. A double-punch of 'Mama I'm Comin' Home' and 'Paranoid!' It can never, ever get better than this.

With a huge emotional resonance, sheer simplicity and a massive sing-along chorus, this is one of the great power ballads. It's like being wrapped in the biggest hard rock group-hug possible. If you've ever played the version from Ozzy's 1993 'Live And Loud' at full volume, let me tell you this was better. Every note. Every drum beat and – of course - that solo!

Gus G, who had played most of the night to a small corner of the crowd, burst into life and found the notes needed as if his life depended on it, ensuring 5,000 people went home playing air guitar.

Drummer Tommy Clufetos, formerly with Rob Zombie, proved to be my hit of the night with a drumkit to die for. Front on it was large enough to look like two separate kits together, with a massive gong behind. Vintage 80s large drums and a presence to match. Very similar in style to Mike Portnoy but much heavier and harder.

Bassist Blasko and second guitar/keyboards Adam Wakeman complimented the band who – although superb all night – really came together as a unit at the end.

I've heard 'Paranoid' a thousand times and it's a great song. One of the best. But holy shit... last night it came to life like Satan roaring from hell on a Harley.

It's easy to cover a good song, but it takes a great band to bring it to life and that's what these guys did. Owning the stage at last, Gus G pulled a solo from his soul that made you forget that Tony Iommi rules this song. Then with those immortal lines... "Can you help me... occupy my brain", Ozzy sang his heart out.

Hammersmith went insane as all his vintage sound-bites came out along with more buckets of water and the foam hose: "Let me see your fucking hands". "I love you guys". "I can't HEAR you". "Go fucking crazy for me". "Everybody clap". "Raise the fucking roof – come ON".

What a Metal moment.

In life they say start well and finish better and that sums up the night. For those of you who need to know, the set-list was fantastic, including: 'I Don't Know', 'Mr Crowley', 'Shot In The Dark', 'Road To Nowhere', 'I Don't Want To Change The World', 'Suicide Solution', 'Goodbye To Romance' and the obligatory drum and guitar solos!

Black Sabbath came along for the ride too – in the guise of 'Iron Man', 'War Pigs' and 'Fairies Wear Boots', with fantastic, powerful performances from the band.

But last night belonged to the best three-song finale you will ever hear. And Ozzy's legendary status is secure. May he never retire.



Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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