GIG REVIEW: POWERWOLF, DRAGONFORCE and WARKINGS Live at AFAS Live Arena, Amsterdam, NL
Sometimes it’s good to have a guilty pleasure day and cheat on a diet, procrastinate on the couch or watch some cheesy, ludicrous power metal concert. On the 1st of December, I chose to do just that by putting aside my dungeon atmospheric black and hidden underground 80’s speed metal gems playlists and attending a fun, larger-than-life evening with templars, barbarians, gamers, priests, and werewolves.
Powerwolf’s Wolfsnächte 2022 tour has been rocking cities all over and the German’s ability to fully control a crowd and make a great show is well-known to all, and I was very excited to see them for the first time. But before that, two other acts were set to enter the stage. Warkings is an up-and-coming band not by chance as it features well-known musicians in the power scene like Serenity’s vocalist Georg Neuhauser and Mystic Prophecy’s axeman Markus Pohl so if anything, these guys know how to perform live and have done a good job here.
The band bet strongly on the theatrical side of a live performance with the templar, barbarian, and other historical outfits and waltzed through their setlist by mixing a little bit of everything from their discography. While the songs themselves don’t offer anything exciting or above-par when it comes to an already stagnated genre like power metal, the live execution had enough energy to raise fists in the crowd and get the blood pumping.
Next up was a familiar name to all; the silly-sensation Dragonforce took the stage to an already energetic audience and continued the upbeat, high-energy atmosphere with new and classic tunes from their already lengthy catalogue. I’m definitely not a fan of the UK-based virtuosos but their music is a perfect fit for gigs, and they proved it with great displays such as “Fury of the Storm”, the very good “Cry Thunder” and mandatory “Through the Fire and Flames”; Hell, they even threw a Celine Dion cover in the mix.
While there were times when band leader Herman Li and Sam Totman seemed all over the place and provide no added value to songs by just shredding away, it is definitely the presence of Marc Hudson that holds Dragonforce’s performances in place. His voice is a classic melodic power metal one and unique enough in that he can be the highlight here and separate himself from the consistent genericness of Dragonforce’s music. It was a good collective performance by all, but Marc stood out.
With the spirits high and fans already crazed by two large doses of sugary, cheesy power metal, bell tolls paved the way for the heavy metal mass and Powerwolf hit the stage in a bang with “Faster Than the Flame”, tearing the place apart with huge pyrotechnics, an immersive stage setting and clockwork precision from the Greywolf brothers in the riff department. Without any room to breathe, they meshed “Incense & Iron” and “Cardinal Sin” into a banger of a start, impressing new fans and putting a smile on the face of old ones.
If there’s one thing these guys know how to do is perform. The dedication to becoming actors and representing roles is something that is becoming bigger by the day with metal shows, but it’s hard to find bands that can render such a powerful display like the Germans; everything from the hand and body movements to the interactions with the crowd is perfectly and timely executed without looking robotic or over-the-top. The nature of Powerwolf’s music could drag them into being preposterous and stupid-looking live, but all members dribble past this by being unpretentious and laid back between songs, which breaks the fourth wall of the whole “werewolf” aesthetic but does wonders for the experience itself.
The only downside to attending a Powerwolf concert is the lack of live bass, as Charles Greywolf is not a god and therefore can only play one instrument at a time, giving preference to the guitar. This makes the show less organic due to backing tracks to make up for it, which combined with the heavy keyboard usage can feel like the band is “cheating” sometimes. While obviously, it’s not the case as they are all playing their instruments, it’s something that surely harms a purist’s experience.
The setlist was near-perfect and flawlessly carried out by Attila Dorn, Falk Maria Schlegel, Charles Greywolf, Matthew Greywolf, and Roel van Helden, all masters in their performances. Each song was accompanied by different settings, stage props, and lighting and the diverse choice of tracks covered most of Powerwolf’s discography, from mandatory epic hymns “Sanctified With Dynamite”, “We Drink Your Blood” and “Werewolves of Armenia” to new bangers “Beast of Gévaudan” and “Blood for Blood (Faoladh)”. War-like anthems “Armata Strigoi” and “Stossgebet” intertwined with pop-ish moments in “Dancing With the Dead” and “Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend” seamlessly, showing why the Germans are forced to be reckoned with live.
Wolfsnächte 2022 tour is a no-brainer if you want to see the mighty wolves live and get two other power metal displays out of it, as Warkings and Dragonforce are big enough to perform on their own. The heavy metal mass celebrated in Amsterdam was a statement that Powerwolf are at the top of the chain in its genre and will continue to grow exponentially over time. I would recommend it for the music alone, of course, because banging to songs about Werewolves, dark myths, horror, and satirical religion is always a fun thing, but the performances and exchange of energy between musicians and fans are the highlights of their shows.
- The Last Battle
- Highway to Oblivion
- Three Hammers
- Fury of the Storm
- The Last Dragonborn
- My Heart Will Go On (Céline Dion cover)
- Cry Thunder
- Through the Fire and Flames
- Faster Than the Flame
- Incense & Iron
- Cardinal Sin
- Amen & Attack
- Dancing With the Dead
- Armata Strigoi
- Beast of Gévaudan
- Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend
- Fire and Forgive
- Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone
- Sainted by the Storm
- Army of the Night
- Blood for Blood (Faoladh)
- Let There Be Night
- Sanctified With Dynamite
- We Drink Your Blood
- Werewolves of Armenia