Wacken 2000 and Warm Up Dates
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
Dean Swift, Dean Cross Street, London - 31 July 2000
It's been 7 months since Mantis last played live together. This time it was at the Dean Swift pub again in preparation for the Wacken Festival. Being Dennis's local the crowd was very enthusiastic and very full.
Since this was basically warm up practise the band played the Wacken set twice. Well almost. One song was missing from the 2nd set. Instead we got Lovers To The Grave done without Tony.
These remaining Dean Swift photos kindly donated by Eileen Handley
To my non-musical ears it was a faultless performance. I love hearing these songs live so much that when I hear the studio versions again I miss the extra little shouts and whammy bar sounds from Dennis. Certainly I love the Time Tells No Lies tracks with Dennis adding his touch.
The band would have liked to have performed a couple of songs of Nowhere to Hide. Unfortunately the logistic of getting the band into rehearsal to work out the arrangements meant they didn't get time for this one off festival.
Something that struck me tonight that I don't remember noticing before is that Tony is a lot more comfortable with UK crowds. For the warm up dates in the Forever In Time I have a strong recollection of his being very stationary and apologetic to the crowd that they didn't know the tunes. Tonight he didn't have room to run around or anything but he was being much more of a front man with his arms and even trying to get the crowd to sings etc in songs like Rise Up Again. They did sing too. It will be interesting to see what things are like tomorrow at the Cartoon where the crowd will me a more unknown quantity.
A Cry For The New World
Praying Mantis -The Cartoon, London Road, Croydon, 1st August 2000
I have never been to the Cartoon before so I wasn't sure what to expect. It is in fact quite a big place that is well lit from the main road in Croydon. Inside it is probably capable of holding 500. The Bar is on the long side of a rectangular room and the stage is in the right hand corner of the other side. Around the edge of the room there are sitting alcoves and the main floor is separated from the bar area by some steps leading down to the toilets.
Being so big and not being Dennis's local the crowd rattled around a bit but overall they were still quite responsive. I noticed a lot of people from the previous night and also a lot of friends I had seen at previous dates.
Tino and Chris play in a covers band called Paddy Goes To Holyhead when they have they time and the drummer of that band has a son called Ben Main who is probably 15 by now. Around 9.30 he came on with a three piece band and played around 30 minutes of Steve Vai type guitar soloing songs. Normally the bass player of the band is the singer but apparently he was ill so they had Ben's guitar tutor on Bass. At the end of the set most people I spoke to said how good he was and doesn't it make you sick he can be that good so young! The style of the music played isn't quite to my taste but I thought he did very well. It will be interesting to see what happens with Ben in the next few years.
Around 10.30 Praying Mantis came on stage and played for 55 minutes. To my surprise I enjoyed this gig about three times as much as the previous night and that is despite me being a total physical wreck. I think what did it for me was the fact everyone was on the stage in their normal place and there was lighting. The lads came on and they all seemed to enjoy themselves.
Speaking to people after the show most that had seen both nights seem to have preferred the Dean Swift since there was more crowd in less space. I must confess I was amazed when they said this, I preferred the band being all in one watchable place and having room to move about. I guess it is horses for courses.
The set was the same as the Dean Swift except Lovers To The Grave was slotted in earlier. It will be interesting to see if they do this in Wacken. I know a lot of fans still love to hear the Time Tells No Lies tracks. In fact one person asked me why it is they never do Captured City now. I don't know the exact answer but I guess it is down to the band feeling they have written better stuff in the 90's and only have limited time in the set.
Overall I think the set is right for Germany. I would like to have seen tracks from Nowhere To Hide but I am not sure what I would have dropped in order to make room even if they had managed to get the songs rehearsed. In a 45-minute set with songs around 6-7 minutes there is only so many ways to arrange the set. I am looking forward to Wacken and seeing how the crowd react. I don't expect most fans will have heard the last two albums since they are only just getting releases outside of Japan so a set based around the classics the TimeTells No Lies, Predator In Disguise and especially A Cry For The New World is hopefully the way to go. Friday night we will see...
Whoops I almost forgot to mention Yukie Toyomi came over from Japan for the two UK dates and the band got wind that it was her birthday so the band gave her a present and sang happy birthday for her. Ko Yamada also made it from Japan again.
Uriah Heep and ex-Mantis man Bernie Shaw was in the audience and enjoyed the show. Especially "Turn The Tables" which he was the first to record.
A Cry For The New World
Wacken Open Air Festival - 10pm 4th August 2000
I was told before the gig that they were expecting about 20,000 fans to the festival this year. Last year it had been about 25,000. I later heard there might be 30,000 about. I have no idea what is true but it gives you an idea.
I was also told Overkill on the Black Stage would take most of Mantis's audience compared to some of the other bands on the Party and Wet Stages. I guess it is best to explain there were four stages. The True Metal stage was the biggest and it was paired with the slightly smaller Black Metal Stage. Then at Right angles to these two stages and probably 100m back were the Wet stage and the slightly smaller Party stage.
During the day the Black and Metal stage never had anyone on at the same time and likewise the Wet and Party. The Black/Metal Stages pretty much had something on all day until 7pm whereas the Wet/Party normally had a 15min break between bands.
By 10pm Overkill were the first band on the Black Stage to get 1hr had been on 1/2. I don't really recall what they were like, as I wasn't paying much attention to them except for the noise irritation. Mantis went on stage and I thought the predictions were true and Mantis wouldn't have much of a crowd. Dennis in true Dennis style started telling the crowd to get over here and for the other band to "shut up" and the set started.
I joined three pictures of the crowd together to give you an impression of the size. Are you on the photo?
Mantis played a stormer and within in a couple of songs I thought the crowd were pretty big. By the end of the set I felt convinced they were playing to 10,000 or so. The band who had a higher position than me were more conservative at about 5,000 but the stage was rather large and I can believe about 75 people wide. It was also a long way back to the sound tower and from what I could see holding my camera above the crowd it looked liked the crowd went all the way back. We are definitely agreed though that the crowd grew throughout the set and about two songs from the end a film crew suddenly showed up as if something special was happening and it was important to catch it.
The set was slightly shorter than we expected due to a lack of time. Not only did we not get Lovers, which was expected, but they also had to drop Letting Go. During Rise Up again Tony and been getting the crowd to join in and like in the UK he changed the song into Queen's We Will Rock You. The crowd responded to this very well and I suspect it was an excellent move to help the fans that don't know Mantis get into the show more. It was certainly great to see such a huge crowd responding so well. I hope the band managed to convert some new fans with this show. After the show the band were talking to the editor of one of the main Metal Magazines in Germany and she was saying this wasn't a crowd that would really appreciate Mantis so the great reaction was even more special.
Mantis were the first band to play in the Dark on the Wet Stage and I have to say the lighting was excellent. I would like to have seen a spotlight on Tony from the Sound tower and a light on Leon but the general impression was great.
Keyboard player Leon made it into the light to help Dennis on a sing-a-long
They had some shaped white backdrops quite high up and when these were lit they were very effective.
Mantis got the Royal Hunt Sound man to do the sound and according to Beaky who was also helping it was crystal clear. Dennis also commented how clear it had been on stage too. This was because they had good Stereo separation on Tino's and Dennis's guitars.
Dennis's son Jack had been running round the edge of the stage encouraging the crowd to clap etc and during one of the songs Tony got him to sing a line in a song. Then Dennis got him out on the stage and it was nice to see them showing affection to each other. "Whenever I'm Lost" on Nowhere To Hide is written by Dennis for Jack. If he feels he has let him down in the past (my interpreation of the first verse and probably completely wrong) it seems to have only helped there relatationship now.
All the band were pleased with the performance and how the crowd grew through out and there were several fans in the Press who came up and said how good it had been. In fact someone who I didn't know at all said "They might as well pull the plugs on all the stages and go home the Festival has seen the best and nothing can touch it now".
A one line review from me would be "F**king Brilliant. I wish it could have been a full set"
The band hope to be back next year.
A Cry For The New World
Behind the scenes pictures and my experience of Wacken 2000 here
Powerplay Magazine wrote the following review of Mantis at Wacken
Praying Mantis were the most accessible of all the NWOBHM acts re-animated for Wacken. Melodic and ballsy, they played a tight and punchy little set while Armoured Saint raged not too far away on the Black Stage. The guitar harmonies of Tino Troy and Dennis Stratton made a pleasant change from some of the talentless chugger's who were in abundance throughout the weekend. Material like "Can't See The Angels", "Rise Up Again" and new song "Best Years Of My Life" were all very classy and catchy. I'll be interested to hear how they fare later in the year at the Gods. They should give it a well needed kick into a territory that's a little bit rockier, though they're possibly a little too soft for Wacken and maybe too hard for the Gods. I hope the fans don't think so because they would be missing out on something worthwhile if they did.