Tuesday, May 1, 2018


HELLOWEEN - Pumpkins United
Michael Kiske (vocal)
Andi Deris (vocal)
Kai Hansen (guitar/vocal)
Michael Weikath (guitar)
Markus Grosskopt (bass)
Sascha Gerstner (guitar)
Dani Loble (drum)
When HELLOWEEN chose to take a different path in 'Chameleon' (1993), the band eventually fell abrupt with Kiske (vocal) and the late Ingo (drum) kicked out from the band. Thus, we considered our time with HELLOWEEN has also ended.

But frankly, 'Chameleon' stood out. We believed that they needed the break, they needed the fresh air. Yet, at that time, who the hell knows what was happening in their camp ...

With Hansen (guitar) gone to found GAMMA RAY after 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II' (1988), the band was left with only Weikath (guitar) and Grosskopt (bass) to move the band forward. Grapow (guitar) who joined the band during 'Pink Bubbles Go Ape' (1991) remained, but would later made his way out as well.

Growing up with the old pumpkins thru the thick and thin of life, made it hard for us to accept the new pumpkin recruits. Those early years were nostalgic and the sense of attachment were too great to allow us to accept change. Though occasionally, we did revisited and played back those old tapes in remembrance of the old pumpkins, but that was just it. Being a hard-headed young man back then, we chose to ignore 'Master Of The Rings' (1994) which for the first time, featured Deris (vocal). Frankly, and sadly to say, that would continued for the next 24 years until the band hit the stage on the night of 28th April 2018 in Malaysia, and proved us wrong. So, these are the story ...
When the Pumpkin United World Tour was first announced in late 2016, we had that small hope, maybe there would be one crazy Singapore's promoter that will bring them over to Singapore. That seemed to be the only option to see the original and expanded HELLOWEEN line-ups  live  on stage after more than 30 years of waiting. While, to be there in Japan was out of picture. But SoundValley Festival surprised us all and brought them to Malaysia instead.

The change in  venue to  Mega Star Arena - Kuala Lumpur (from Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang - MAEPS) was just perfect to house the turnouts. So were the sound and lighting system that night.

We took our spot at Weikath's side, at the right, facing the stage. There was a transparent stage curtain with the HELLOWEEN logo hangin', covering the stage. While, the lighting inside the venue was dim in pumpkin orange.

As soon as the ticking intro of "Halloween" began, that stage curtain immediately dropped and the ground at Mega Star Arena trembled. A loud roaring of "masquerade, masquerade, grab your mask and don't be late" echoed through out the arena, welcoming and celebrating HELLOWEEN on stage. It was madness ! Those little ghosts (as well as old ones) were really makin' lots of noise ! It was exactly just like the lyric described - there is magic in the air ! Ahhh ... its HELLOWEEN !

HELLOWEEN kept its reputation as the master of Speed / Power Metal. The band was musically bigger on stage than from the album. That's the big reason to witness them live. The set continued with "Dr. Stein", and the crowds stayed insane. Kiske and Deris shared vocal duties, and so did the crowds.

"Good to be here ladies and gentlemen. The first time for us in Malaysia ...", that was the opening speech as the band began to address the crowds.

As the current singer, Deris took charge next with 4 tracks from 4 different albums. He showcased great vocal and persona on stage. While in between, Kiske did "I'm Alive" and "March Of Time", and we grinned in utmost satisfaction. His voice still remained powerful.
When Hansen (guitar) took centre stage and asked - "are you ready for some classic German Heavy Metal ?", the background montage aired the "Happy Helloween" sing along, and some of the crowds heeded the call, in reminiscent of 'Live In The UK' (1989). Hansen then burst into action. He belted out a medley of old time classics in its grandeur and glory - "Starlight / "Ride The Sky" / "Judas" / "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)". At such age, he got power, he was (literally) divine !
While the stage background display was grand and colourful, and the pumpkins cartoon character of 'Seth' and 'Doc' in action during every break was creative.
The two HELLOWEEN big ballads came next with Deris and Kiske sharing vocal on "Forever and One (Neverland)", accompanied with only Gerstner on guitar. The rest would later joined in towards the end. The track felt elevated with Kiske's big deep voice on it. It will be interesting if somehow the track is given a re-recording treatment in studio (with dual vocal) for a special Pumpkins United compilation album perhaps. 
Once Kiske requested everybody to light up the flashlight (smartphone) and announced that the song "A Tale That Wasn't Right" was next, that nostalgic feeling started to creep in as the track was monumental and had survived for more than 3 decades. The famous Weikath's mesmerising intro and mid-part solo really cut everybody's heart like a knife.

It was indeed a special night when we were also treated with two encores, all from the 'Keeper' era where Kiske dominated.

"Eagle Fly Free" triumphed with Grosskopt's pounding bass works and Loble's drum solo. Grosskopt was lively on stage and impressed us with his stage antics which we could relate him to Janick Gers (IRON MAIDEN).
All hands and fists were held high when the epic "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" made its live Malaysian debut with massive sing along on the chorus. Deris came in later and turned the arena on fire. The song ended dramatically where each of the band members were introduced and made their exit bid, one by one, with the crowds continued to sing 'oh...oh...oh...oh' in orgasm harmony. While Gerstner remained on guitar as the last one standing before finally making his own exit.

The band returned on stage for the final encore that led everybody into total frenzy. Kiske claimed "Future World" and shared vocal with Deris for "I Want Out". Big orange pumpkin balloon-like balls were thrown towards the crowds, floating and bouncing with great joy. While, from both of the front corners of the arena burst colourful glitters that rained onto the stage areas, turned it into a fascinating sight. It was one historical moment ! 

To most of us who were there that night, it was the 30 years celebration of the Keeper albums (Part I & II). Those two albums have been part of us since our younger days, and it was damn emotional that we finally got to experience old time favourites like "A Tale That Wasn't Right", "Eagle Fly Free", "Future World", and of course "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" live with Kiske on vocal. They gave us a total of 10 tracks and we are thankful for that.
Yet, as at that night, and approximately 24 years later after 'Master of the Ring' (1994), we finally found peace with Deris. The band was right to have him on vocal duty after Kiske. He definitely earned his place as a pumpkin. The selection of songs from the Deris' era was also brilliant like "If I Could Fly" and "Why?". While, the song "Power" was the best, raising the atmosphere higher with the sing along.

So were Gerstner and Loble who have done well since joining the band.
Albeit "Forever and One (Neverland)" had stamped its mark as the favourite ballad for most fans, but to us, none could beat our all time personal favourite - "A Tale That Wasn't Right".

What a night ! Shout it out ! Let them know ! Pumpkins United we are ! We hope that this expanded line-up will at least release one album together before call it off. A live album from the Pumpkin United World Tour is also a must release.

Simply brilliant ! Thank you HELLOWEEN ! Well done SoundValley Festival ! It was the best show in 2018 so far, no doubt !
Note :-
We have also updated the review with the following video, courtesy from VIDEO2U Productions.
 Deris & Kiske
1) Halloween (Keepers of the Seven Keys Part I)
2) Dr. Stein (Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II)

3) I'm Alive (Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I)

4) If I Could Fly (The Dark Ride)
5) Are You Metal ? (7 Sinners)

6) March of Time (Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II)

7) Waiting For The Thunder (Straight Out Of Hell)
8) Perfect Gentleman (Master Of The Rings)

9) Medley
    i)   Starlight (Helloween)
    ii)  Ride The Sky (Walls Of Jericho)
    iii) Judas (The Best, The Rest, The Rare)
    iv) Heavy Metal [Is The Law] (Walls Of Jericho)

Deris & Kiske
10) Forever and One [Neverland] (The Time Of The Oath)
11) A Tale That Wasn't Right (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I)

Deris & Kiske & Hansen
12) Pumpkins United (new single)

13) Ingo's Tribute - drum solo with (on screen) Ingo

14) Medley
     i)   Livin' Ain't No Crime (The Best, The Rest, The Rare)
     ii)  A little Time (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I)

Deris & Kiske

15) Why ? (Master Of The Rings)

16) Sole Survivor (Master Of The Rings)
17) Power (The Time Of The Oath)

Kiske & Deris & Hansen
18) How Many Tears (Walls Of Jericho)
Encore 1
19) Eagles Fly Free (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II)
Kiske & Deris
20) Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II)
Encore 2
21) Guitar Solo
22) Future World (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I)
Kiske & Deris
23) I Want Out (Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II)