May 6, 2017
I put in my request for this show back in late September when it was announced. I told the publicist I know how early this is but I want my intentions known - I want to not only be at this show but I want to conduct at least one interview.
I bought "Glory To The Brave" back in the 90's when all the buzz was going on about this new straightforward heavy metal band called Hammerfall from Sweden.
I've seen Delain on each of their US tours - 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and now 2017.
What does this all mean? It meant that on Saturday I was fucking stoked for the show! Yes!
On a partly sunny Saturday, I happily made my way south to Seattle to see Delain and Hammerfall.
I was initially informed that my interview with Charlotte Wessels (vocalist for Delain and co-founder) would be at 4pm. Charlotte confirmed this on Saturday so I, as always, made sure to allow for Interstate 5 traffic as well as parking.
I arrived down by the venue at 3:45pm only to find a text from her that asked if we could bump it to 4:30pm. No problem. On such a nice day in Seattle, I used the time to walk around the block a few times. The random tweakers and bums aside, it was a nice walk. And lo and behold, I ran into Mark (a different Mark) - we had met at the Delain gig back in 2014. How odd to be walking around, killing time, and then run into another fan kind of doing the same thing. Hi Mark!
As it got closer to 4:30pm, I grabbed my gear and headed over to the venue. A line for the VIP folks had already formed and a few were in the general admission line as well. Doors weren't until 6pm for the VIP's and 7pm for the general admission so it was somewhat early (but cool) to see folks already lined up.
I texted Charlotte so she knew where I was waiting outside since the location of the interview had not been decided yet. I always request if possible a well-lit area that is quiet for any video interview. A few minutes later Charlotte stuck her head out of the main entrance to the club. I was standing over by the Funhouse (second smaller club) entrance. She walked over to me, we gave each other a hug and she said she'd go find out where we could do the interview and be back out. I suppose I should preface that I, like many fans, have met Charlotte more than once on previous tours. This was our first video interview, though (after doing an email and phone interview previously and a video interview last tour that went to Martijn instead as Charlotte was getting over an illness).
A few whispers, gasps, giggles, and smiles from the waiting fans as she walked back in the club were witnessed for sure. She came back out and said we could do it upstairs in the green room. I followed her, as a few fans were video-ing or trying to take photos of her walking past them to go in the club.
We headed upstairs to conduct the interview. There are other tidbits before and after the interview that happened/were discussed but I said I would keep that off the record so I shall.
After the interview (which went great btw), I went outside with a few fans staring at me like "oooh that's that guy that went inside with Charlotte". Let me be clear - I'm a nobody, folks. Yes, I started my media outlet six years ago but I'm a fan first, media second. If you ever see me at a show, say hello. I love talking shop with other fans.
I saw other Mark again, who was waiting in line to get in. We chatted about the interview a bit when my phone rang. Interview number two was going to be starting soon. I excused myself and met the tour manager to go do the Hammerfall interview with Oscar (founder of the band).
I followed her upstairs again only to go into a different room. Sun streaming in, the room got very sauna like (Oscar would agree to this). Joacim (vocals) stepped out of the room and humorously asked if I needed 50 minutes or 15 minutes to do the interview. I then introduced myself to Oscar and off we went.
After the interview, due to how hot it was in that room, Oscar went looking for water as we both walked out. He found a case and asked if I wanted one as I was heading down the stairs. Sure and much obliged was I. And, yes, I make mental notes of things like this - when artists act like courteous human beings.
At this point, I just wanted to sit down to be honest. Riding the high of having both interviews completed (and having gone well), I asked the door staff if I could just hang out in the club out of the way until the VIP was done? They said sure (he also recognized me) which was very cool of them.
After moving to the bar area since I was apparently in the way (I wasn't trying to be I swear), they started setting up the tables for the VIP session.
El Corazon is a small, dark, dingy, metal club. I've read that it holds 800 but that number seems really high and I've seen tons of shows there. When it gets packed in there, some fans can't really see much because they'll be stuck over on the side where they can't see much of the stage or they’ll be stuck back by the entrance, which isn't much better.
I watched the VIP session take place. I wasn't expecting so many fans to be doing the VIP. After going through getting autographs, the first wave of fans was lined up by the merch wall. Three separate lines of fans were created. One on the top half, two rows on the bottom half.
Then they started with the group photos. 5-6 fans per picture with both bands. Once you were through the line, then you went and waited over by the door again.
Once they were done with everyone, the fans basically rushed the stage to claim their spots including me as I was off on the side watching all of this unfold. I didn't get the best spot but I was in the front at the foot of the stage by the infamous "pole". El Corazon does not have a barrier or photo pit so when you're in the front, you are right at the foot of the stage. And the stage is low.
And now the waiting started for the first local opening band.
Seattle's own Skeletor took the stage at 7:10pm and did a quick 25-minute set. Old school heavy metal. Jeans and t-shirts, jean jackets and leather kind of stuff. I dug it. They fit with Hammerfall really well. Delain not so much.
Zero Down, another local act, was up next for a 25 minute set as well. I had seen them open another show a few years back. Similar in style to Skeletor - heavy metal - I dug their set as well.
Hails to the local talent!
Hammerfall was up next for their 75-minute set.
Complete with backdrop (only showing about a 1/3 of it because the club is small with low ceilings), the intro to "Hector's Hymn" started and the place went nuts! Being in the very front I couldn't tell how many fans were in the club at that point but judging by the volume of the crowd, it sounded packed (this was later confirmed by family and friends that were in the back after the show was over).
The band hadn’t played Seattle in 7 years. And you could tell that the Hammerfall fans were chomping at the bit for their return (to the same club no less)!
Joacim and the boys sounded just like they should for a band that's been carrying the flag of heavy metal for 20 years - polished, professional, and aggressive. Plenty of choreographed head banging movement throughout the set, the band sounded fantastic!
Pulling from their vast catalog, they played tunes from their newest record, "Built To Last" as well as everything in between, including a medley of "Glory To The Brave" tunes, which I appreciated!
Joacim was in fine form. Forever the showman, his in-between song banter was humorous and spot on. Oscar and Pontus ripped on their respective guitars while Frederik and Johan laid down the punishing rhythm section.
Hammerfall finished their set with, "Hearts On Fire". At this point, the club was hot and packed, and some fans were heading outside to get some much needed air in-between bands.
A brief changeover where all but Charlotte from Delain came on stage to get things set up or tested (see photos); it wasn't long before their set started.
With both Hammerfall and Delain moving to rack gear and in-ear mix monitors for each member, the old school stack of heads and cabinets as well as stage monitors were nowhere to be found I should mention. This made a lot of sense, especially at El Corazon, as the stage is already small so this gave the bands more room to move. If they had used stacks and monitors on the stage, I don't know where everyone would of stood.
The lights dimmed and the cinematic opening strains of "The Monarch" started with Ruben following suit with the drum portion. Eventually the rest of the band took the stage to segue way into, "Hands of Gold" off the new album, "Moonbathers".
Charlotte made her entrance before the vocals started to thunderous applause/cheers and we were off!
Having never seen a 75-minute set from Delain, I was SO looking forward to hearing song and after song on Saturday night. Each album was represented, some more than others (please play "April Rain" in Seattle next time - pleeeeeeease - we've never heard it live out here).
The band sounded fantastic and really played well off each other as they always do. Smiles abound when they play - as well as constant head banging and movement all over the stage (aside from Martijn and Ruben but that's due to their instruments). It was great to see the full lineup - all six members - this time around. This IS Delain!
Several songs off "Moonbathers" were aired, including "Danse Macabre" - which replaced "Here Come The Vultures" in the printed set list.
What else can I say? The band sounded fantastic! The fans ate up every second they played. And those that were wearing Hammerfall t-shirts, many stuck around and enjoyed the show too!
Ending the night with their staple, "We Are The Others" (I was wearing my black S.O.P.H.I.E. bracelet btw), the band gathered at the end of the show and took two bows before exiting.
This show was very satisfying on many levels. Both bands put on a great show - and they all seemed very down to earth and genuine. There was a strong turnout for the gig as well, which always elevates the energy for both bands and fans alike. A good time was had by all!
This tour package made good business sense. Two bands that draw different crowds but not massively drastic style differences (like if they had picked a black or death metal act for instance), I'm sure some fans would of preferred bands of similar style (both Delain fans and Hammerfall fans).
I got lucky, as I like both bands.
It's very rare to be able to say I've seen a band live in Seattle 4 of 5 years in a row. Some of the up and coming US bands that tour a lot I might be able to say that (Letters From The Fire, September Mourning, etc) but bands from overseas? Not so much. Delain have been very purposeful in building their audience here in the US.
I can only hope that Hammerfall come back sooner than in another 7 years. The tour has been wildly successful according to Oscar (see his interview) so this gives a lot of US Hammerfall fans hope.
Both bands had a lot of merch - always nice to see. Gotta make that money - especially with clubs taking cuts of the profits at every show. $75 for the VIP seemed reasonable to me compared to what others charge. If I had done it, I wouldn't of been too thrilled with the big group photo thing but that's just a personal preference. I would of liked a single photo with each band but, again, that's just my personal preference.
Both bands have their own full sized tour bus, which helps this round. Delain had a Bandwagon last tour which is much smaller.
I picked up a Delain shirt after the show. We were some of the last fans to leave the venue. Ruben was loading out. The rest of the band was either outside on the bus, upstairs in the backstage rooms, or possibly talking to fans outside.
I could not confirm that the show was sold out. I heard that by the time it started it had but don't quote me on that.
I truly believe that the fan interaction that Delain is known for after their gigs is really starting to pay off. The same fans show up to each tour, usually bringing others with them. I know for myself meeting a band member is always a nice touch and if they turn out to be cool it just cements my allegiance to that band that much more.
Here's hoping both bands make a return to bigger audiences in bigger venues next year!
Special Thanks: Jon and Katy for the credentials! Charlotte for being so open during the interview. Oscar for being a kick ass metal dude - and thanks for the water too! Thanks to El Corazon staff for being chill the entire time I was at the venue. Cheers!
Video Interview w/Charlotte Wessels
Video Interview w/Oscar Dronjak
All images were shot without a zoom - I was that close. My apologies for the low resolution quality. This will change when I unleash my full blown official EA site soon!