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Hansen & Friends: Thank You Wacken (DVD/CD)

With a similar set soon to follow from Unisonic, Thank You Wacken is the first of two releases celebrating Gamma Ray and ex-Helloween man Kai Hansen's appearances at 2016's Wacken Open Air. This set came under the guise of Hansen & Friends, a studio album under the same name released not long after to celebrate Hansen's 30 years in metal. Fittingly this release features a mix of new material from that album alongside some of the Helloween classics that the guitarist and singer first made his name with.

Featuring a band of seasoned vet's and a few newcomers, Hansen put together a stellar cast for this show, namely, Dark Age guitarist Eike Freese, Heaven Shall Burn bassist Alex Dietz, Uli Jon Roth and Crystal Breed keyboard player Corvin Bahn and Hansen's Gamma Ray bandmate Michael Ehré on drums. The man himself, who appears not to have aged at all over his three decades in the music game is in tremendous voice as he superbly leads from the front on "Born Free" and the Helloween classic "Future World". Although he's equally convincing duetting with backing singer Clémentine Delauney (Visions Of Atlantis) on "Fire And Ice", or sharing the mic with Frank Beck (also of Gamma Ray) for "Victim Of Fate" and "Follow The Sun". However the real vocal excitement arrives in the shape of Hansen teaming up with his current Unisonic and ex-Helloween bandmate Michael Kiske for utterly storming versions of "I Want Out" and "Future World", the pair rolling back the years in splendid style.

With seven tracks coming from the so far one and only Hansen & Friends album, it has to be said that nearly all of them hit harder in this live set, a collection of good studio songs raised considerably through the energy and passion infused into them here. However with all of that material brand new to the admittedly supportive audience, there's no disguising their delight that the other five cuts aired all hark back to those much loved Helloween days, set closer "Save Us" a surprise but very welcome selection indeed.

A two disc affair, you get the twelve songs set in both audio and visual format, with both standing up remarkably well; the sound sharp but hefty, the multi-camera shot DVD capturing the excitement on stage and in the audience extremely well. With the band's set being at that perfect time where daylight falls to dusk as the show ends in the dark of night, the DVD really is the way to experience this excellent collection of vintage Euro metal and new songs but whichever disc you slip into the player, you won't be disappointed.

With Gamma Ray, Hansen & Friends, Unisonic and the 'Pumpkins Reunited' Helloween tour, Kai Hansen is in blisteringly impressive top form as he rolls into his fourth decade in music. Thank You Wacken? No Kai, thank YOU!

Track Listing
1. Born Free
2. Ride The Sky
3. Contract Song
4. Victim Of Fate
5. Enemies Of Fun
6. Fire And Ice
7. Burning Bridges
8. Follow The Sun
9. I Want Out
10. Future World
11. All Or Nothing
12. Save Us

Added: July 1st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Kai Hansen on Facebook
Hits: 1571
Language: english

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