Metal All Stars @ Arena Armeec, Sofia, Bulgaria, March 23rd 2014

by 
on Wed, 03/26/2014 - 17:28
Metal All Stars - Sofia, Bulgaria

The European start of the Metal All Stars tour did not go as expected, at least not for the Bulgarian fans who were the first to experience it.

Many disappointed faces could be seen even before the beginning of the concert as a couple of hours earlier the promoters had announced that Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down) would skip the whole European tour without pointing out the reason. Two of the other metal stars were also missing from the show - Nick Menza (Megadeth) and Cronos (Venom), who at least had a decent excuse saying he had been having health problems.

All these things aside, the show was honestly weak. The start was given exactly at 18.00 with the first support band - the powerful local band Odd Crew. The boys gave their best and proved that they deserved to be on that stage, although the sound during their 30-minute set was not as good as it should be. After a short break the Arena Armeec Hall was ready to embrace the next supporting band - Death Dealer. Ross The Boss (Manowar) and his band did a good job on stage. But their vocalist, Sean Peck, looked like a Rob Halford-wannabe so much that it was even hilarious from the crowd's point of view.

The real Metal All Stars show began with the beautiful blonde Kobra Paige from the band Kobra And The Lotus. She was a breath of fresh air. Even though she did not make the greatest performance of Iron Maiden's "Fear Of The Dark", she somehow managed to move the crowd a little bit. Finishing with a song of her own and leaving the stage for a break before the next vocalist made the fans a bit nervous. And what was shocking for a metal concert, it seemed they ran out of beer quite early which made everyone really angry.

Right after the only lady in the show, the stage was rocked by Brian Fair (Shadows Fall). The crowd did not seem to be really familiar with his band and their songs but he definitely provoked their interest by singing only Shadows Fall's stuff. The most memorable of all were his hairstyle and his great energy.

Udo Dirkschneider (Accept, U.D.O.) seems to like Bulgaria very much as he was here last month as well. He was the first performer on stage who actually heated up the place. With the hit songs "Metal Heart" and "Balls To The Wall" he woke up the crowd and made them jump as high as they could and sing along as loud as they could. His sparkly leather jacket could not be missed out of this review as he made quite an impression with all these little shiny studs. But with Udo on stage, there were differences between the musicians and everyone could notice that they probably hadn't had enough time to rehearse the songs.

Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly) definitely kept the spirit of the previous performer and even lifted it up a little bit more. I do not know about Udo, but Max is undisputably a Bulgaria lover. He was the first to say "I love you" in Bulgarian and made the crowd scream and shout. With "Refuse/Resist" and "Back To The Primitive" he made fans even among people, like me, who were not really listening to his bands. But again, the sound quality was not really good. And it seems that the hall where the show took place is not really suitable for such events.

Joey Belladonna from Anthrax was the fifth vocalist on stage. And he was brilliant. He sang perfectly well two of his own songs, "Madhouse" and "Medusa", and made an astonishing cover of AC/DC's hit "T.N.T". And his interaction with the fans was remarkable!

The most anticipated metal star of the night (after Phil Anselmo, of course) was Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society, Ozzy Osbourne). He was definitely the best performing act of the whole show. His guitar solos might be a bit too long sometimes but he plays them so well that you do not even notice how the time passes. And that guy plays the guitar as a beast! Only with a drummer and a bass player on stage he made such a brilliant performance that Bulgarian metal fans are going to talk about it for quite a long time. We heard some Black Sabbath's classics but also one of his own band's songs - "Stillborn".

After these performances, the crowd was expecting an All Star jam. And I mean a real one - with all the musicians and all the vocalists on stage and not each one of them individually. But such thing did not happen and that was yet another disappointment. Max Cavalera showed up once again for "Roots Bloody Roots" and then Joey Belladonna lifted up the crowd with Rainbow's classic "Man On The Silver Mountain". The energetic Brian Fair performed "Bark At The Moon" by Ozzy, but the sounding was again a disaster. Kobra Paige was the only vocalist to sing two final songs - "Kill With Power" (Manowar) and "Symphony Of Destruction" (Megadeth) with which she did a pretty good job. The final performance of the night was again for my personal guitar hero Zakk Wylde. With Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" he finished the show perfectly, almost making the fans forget about all things that were not as expected.

In my humble opinion, if that tour continues this way in the other countries, it will not happen again next year. The idea of it is genius but it seems that a lot of work still should be done. Or maybe Bulgaria had the bad luck to be the first stop of the tour and experience all the fails. Only time will tell.

Setlists:

I. Kobra Paige:
01. Kings of Metal (Manowar)
02. Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden)
03. Fifty Shades of Evil (Kobra And The Lotus)

II. Brian Fair:
04. The Light That Blinds (Shadows Fall)
05. What Drives the Weak (Shadows Fall)
06. Thoughts Without Words (Shadows Fall)

III. Udo Dirkschneider:
07. Animal House (U.D.O.)
08. Metal Heart (Accept)
09. Balls to the Wall (Accept)
10. Fast as a Shark (Accept)

IV. Max Cavalera:
11. Refuse / Resist (Sepultura)
12. Back to the Primitive (Soulfly)
13. Eye for an Eye (Soulfly)

V. Joey Belladonna:
14. Madhouse (Anthrax)
15. Medusa (Anthrax)
16. T.N.T. (AC/DC)

VI. Zakk Wylde:
17. Guitar solo
18. Into the Void (Black Sabbath)
19. Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath)
20. N.I.B. (Black Sabbath)
21. Guitar solo / Stillborn (Black Label Society)

VII. Max Cavalera:
22. Roots Bloody Roots (Sepultura)

VIII. Joey Belladonna:
23. Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow)

IX. Brian Fair:
24. Bark at the Moon (Ozzy Osbourne)

X. Kobra Paige:
25. Kill With Power (Manowar)
26. Symphony of Destruction (Megadeth)

XI. Zakk Wylde:
27. War Pigs (Black Sabbath)