Gamma Ray @ B.B. King Blues Club (5/1/2006)

Logo - Gamma Ray

Artist: Gamma Ray
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Into Eternity, Arctic Flame
Date: 5/1/2006
Label: Sanctuary Records

Far from being in the shadow of his accomplishments in Helloween, singer guitarist Kai Hansen has made sure that Gamma Ray is one of the most important bands in Power Metal history.

Starting off the festivities for this evening would be Arctic Flame, whose name I had only recently heard but alas I was not in the club when they performed. I was given a copy of the CD by their singer and got to chat with them briefly. Watch for that CD review sometime soon. Opening up the show would be Into Eternity, and as I write this I can hear the Metal concert goers sighing “again?” The band was pretty much a mainstay at some of the biggest shows of 2005 with almost every major Power Metal show having them on the bill as well. Great for the fans that enjoy them as I do, but perhaps not too much in the eyes of those who look to see some different stuff a little more often. Tonight however we would find a very different band on the stage. Gone was drummer Adam Sagan, who had left the band a few months ago and in his place was Jim Austin who recorded the album for them in the first place. The other surprise to me as someone who had seen the band several times was the absence of Rob Doherty who was being filled in for by Collin Craig. While I don’t know the specifics behind his absence I have to say that Craig did a great job on the material that I knew. Once again a number of Metal blasts from “Buried By Oblivion” were delivered and we even were treated to a couple of new numbers that will be on their as yet untitled follow up to the last record. Looking at the calendar of shows made me wonder how many times I will see them this year. Either way I am sure Tim Roth and company will be sure to start off everyone’s Metal evening right so I look forward to it.

Gamma Ray was up now and it seemed as though everyone who was going to be there was there now. To be brutally honest I have a complaint about the level of support shown for this band at the show. This would be the first full US tour for Gamma Ray and if 600 people were in the place it would be just off by one or two people. Metal fans have got to realize all the more that the tour support is what truly finances these guys and a trip like the USA is very costly on a foreign band. They need to see the bodies in the clubs when they arrive or we risk not having them return or being several years away when they do. Either way, Kai Hansen and his band of Metal Merry Men hit the ground running and with “Gardens Of The Sinner” as their opener gave a driving message that this performance would rock tonight. Bassist Dirk Schlachter was in definite Power Metal form and had the bass players admiring his skills, while some of the ladies in attendance got to admire his playing with no shirt on. Henjo Richter provided some extra guitar support but in all honesty Kai doesn’t need support at all. Richters frenetic riffs served best in bringing the fullest sound possible to the bands performance. While all this was going on, the thundering from behind them all was handled by Daniel Zimmerman. Those who have heard Gamma Ray material know for a fact that the drumming levels need to be on point for Hansen to best keep this material exciting and Zimmerman literally was running in place for the entire time the band played. Despite my issues with the crowd I had to say that everyone in the place surely was a Gamma Ray fan and showed this by the screams, the fist throwing in the air and the occasional crowd-surfer. Kai and his team were supporting their latest release “Majestic” on Sanctuary Records, but they still managed to fit a nice sampling from across their career. I felt this was a good move especially since they had never done a proper visit to our shores. The sound in B.B.King’s tonight was terrific and the place rumbled along with the band. I have to share that I lost track of Gamma Ray around the third album and only recently got back into them which is why I wanted to hear more from those albums. Yet when Kai delivered a rousing Helloween classic in “I Want Out” the entire place felt like it was going to explode. Kai seemed to also be having the time of his life as he was all smiles throughout the whole performance. Those who missed it, well, you very simply missed it. Let’s hope that because of this we don’t suffer their limited return. Gamma Ray definitely provides some of the most thunderous of Power Metal tunes, and one should expect no less from a guy who was in one of the founding fathers of the genre.

Set List:
1. Intro
2. Gardens Of The Sinners
3. New World Order
4. Fight
5. Blood Religion
6. Armageddon
7. The Silence
8. Heavy Metal Universe
9. I Want Out
10. Rebellion In Dreamland
11. Land Of The Free
12. Valley of the Kings – encore
13. Somewhere Out In Space – encore
14. Send Me A Sign – encore

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