* October 22, 2011 *

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Manifesto, Hoorn, The Netherlands

We have been looking forward to this day for a whole year and when the day is there, it’s over before you know it. The annual party that every heavy metal maniac is looking forward to gets a sort of mini soap before the festival has even started to take place. FINAL HEIRESS can’t play at the festival this year, because of the illness of singer Jan Palenstijn, but the organization hopes to add them to the bill for next year. The soap, that I was referring to, is about CULPRIT from Seattle, WA. The booking agency had booked THE CULPRIT instead, which has got nothing at all to do with the band that released “Guilty As Charged”. Johnny DeVol and co. will hopefully play in Hoorn next year, if the organization doesn't make the same mistake again. Replacements are ALPHA TIGER and FIREFORCE and I think, that they did a good job on such short notice. We drive to Hoorn, because there are five bands willing to present themselves to the heavy metal maniacs tonight. Which band doesn't want to play here tonight?? Before we get to see any of the bands, it is time to meet up with some people that I haven’t seen for a long time already. Our good friend Martin Motorhead takes care of coffee and apple pie, as promised. What a great way to start the festival! This can’t get much better, as far as I’m concerned. People pop up from crow nests and megaliths from all over the country and travel to Hoorn for this event. Leather, chains, jeans coats covered with patches, long hair sometimes tinted grey already, a beard here and there and some bald heads are there as well. It really doesn’t matter what you look like. The people that are gathering here tonight all have the same religion and that is heavy metal \m/ \m/ The Heavy Metal Maniacs magazine is their bible and they exchange their ideas and suggestions about good music on the maniacs forum on the internet. If you don’t get this grammar at all, I think you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, reading the wrong article.
Our neighbours from the South, FIREFORCE, will start off this festival tonight. This isn’t a bad job, because the hall is well packed at this early hour. We already know this band a little bit, because some of the band members already played here with their former outfit DOUBLE DIAMOND. FIREFORCE really kicked some ass and they did a great job. “Coastal Battery” is a firm opener and after that they spit out some heavy riffs and flashing guitar solos. The song “Horus” is one of the highlights of the show for me, because it sounds just a little bit more cocky than the rest of their material. “Born To Play Metal” could very well be a tribute to the band itself and with the MANOWAR cover “Battle Hymn” they steal the heart of the audience. Thank you all very much, make a bow and then they are gone. That’s the way to deal with things. Convincing, very straight forward and definitely a good opener.

After the heavy sound of FIREFORCE, it’s time to meet our good friend Johnny Stoj of PEGAZUS, which we haven’t seen since 1998. The time, we spend together that year at the well-known Wacken Open Air festival, is simply irreplaceable. They are the real metal warriors from Down Under. A very warm and cozy meeting is the result. This lasted a bit too short maybe, because ALPHA TIGER was already on stage again. That’s also the reason why we missed their first song, but we have seen the band at this year’s Keep It True festival and I wasn’t really convinced about their strength. After hearing songs like “Against The Time”, “Crimson Desert” and title track of their debut album “Men Or Machines”, I am still not really convinced. Mind you, this is high quality music, people. That’s for sure. But after a few songs, I get the feeling that I’ve heard it all before. No matter how hard the band tries, I just can’t stay focused for the complete set. With the QUEENSRYCHE cover “Queen Of The Ryche”, I cheer up again and get ready to applaud them and show my appreciation. Very well done guys, but not really my cup of tea.

MURO are a special treat for all the Spanish metal fans, that showed up tonight. The original line-up of the band plays in Hoorn tonight. Many metal heads would give their right leg to see this show. This is going to be a party, that you will remember for a long time. From opener “Telon De Acero” until set closer “Mirada Asesina” the members of MURO give it all they’ve got. The set list of tonight is good overview of their long lasting career and I don’t think, there is anybody present, who didn’t have a good time during the set of MURO.

Slowly, we are heading to the moment where the headliners enter the arena. GIRLSCHOOL and PEGAZUS are on the program and the guys from Australia are on next. PEGAZUS received mixed feelings from the fans, so I noticed. This can’t be due to the set list of tonight’s show, because we are served with a real ‘best of’ show here. Starting off with “Headless Horseman”, it’s quite obvious that this would be a ‘no-nonsense’ true metal show. So many highlights go by with songs like “Patriot”, “Apache Warriors”, “Wings Of Steel” and the mighty double tracker “Spread Your Wings” / “Forever Chasing Rainbows”. Also my favorite slogan “Metal Forever” has been put on the set list tonight. It was also good to see good old Robbie Stoj behind his drum kit again. For many people it’s singer, Justin Fleming, who can’t really convince. He was the first singer of the band and in my eyes he’s a very good performer, so I don’t really understand what all the fuzz is about. PEGAZUS even made my skin crawl, as the only band of the whole festival. They did this with the last song of their set “Enchanted World”. What a great song and played with so much passion, that it easily became the perfect closer of tonight’s show for me. Bottom line is, that the band proved that they are still able to do the trick. But this is my personal opinion, because not everybody seems to share my euphoric thoughts about these sympathetic Australians PEGAZUS, who spread their wings over Holland again.

However, everybody did have the same opinion about GIRLSCHOOL. If you would have told me a few years ago, that GIRLSCHOOL would be headlining the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival, I would have laughed in your face. But after a jolly afternoon together with Gerald (you lucky bastard!) in Hoorn, the ladies enter the stage here tonight to play the last show of this day. The scheduled signing session at Café Fame earlier today didn’t take place, but the ladies took the time to sign some merchandise and other stuff at the Manifesto in the early evening. The whole show depends on the sound of the first songs. “Demolition Boys” and “C’MonLet’s Go” don’t live up to its promise at all. For a moment I expect Denise to jump off the stage right in the middle of a song (it was that bad) and this is going to be a very short concert tonight. But during “Not For Sale” and “Hit & Run” the sound gets better and better and the party is about to start right after that. And we’re glad of it, because Martin and I have already started our own private party on the right side of the stage, where bass player Enid Williams is doing her very best to please the fans. And she succeeds in that pretty easily, I must admit. The air guitars are plugged in and we are banging our heads throughout the whole set. After “I Spy, “Never Say Never” and “Everything’s The Same”, the band pushes the greatest hits button on the juke box and two old head bangers (!!)are having the time of their life at the right side of the stage. Three days of pain in all of our muscles is the outcome, but hey, who can stand still, when they are playing songs like “Screaming Blue Murder”, “Future Flash”, “Kick It Down”, “Take It All The Way”, “Yeah Right” “Race With The Devil” and “Emergency”? I think not many people can, because these are the songs that you want to hear and that you want to shout along to. The traditional Maniacs stage party (where fans are climbing the stage and party alongside the band) is not done this time (were they too scared for these queens of metal??), but it doesn’t change the great atmosphere of tonight. These schoolgirls enter the stage once again with a little bit more enthusiasm than earlier tonight, for the final encores. They choose for “Not That Innocent” and the ZZ TOP cover “Tush”. The air guitars are hidden in their cases after this last song. They don’t take too many space, luckily enough.

Tired, but with a very good feeling, it’s time to go home and hit the sack. In about a year from now, we will return to Hoorn again for the next edition of this very pleasant festival. Hopefully this time with another Dutch band on the bill, because this was a minor discrepancy for a lot of fans. No matter, who will be playing there, I'm sure that the atmosphere will be outstanding, just like any other year. I think, that we can be proud of that. In closing, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the organisation of this festival, all the volunteers, the masters of ceremony Paul and Eggo and last but not least, the people of the mobile snack home, outisde of the Manifesto. See you next year, boys and girls!!

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/December 2011
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/www.metalmaidens.com

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