It’s pretty hard to believe, but after two long years during which Covid-19 had virtually all of Europe in lockdown and held artists hostage, April 2022 saw not only the lifting of most Covid-19 related restrictions in many European countries but also the return of touring for music artists.
Among the lucky few who were able to hit the European roads already in early April 2022 were Swedish Power Metal heroes Dynazty (fronted by Amaranthe-singer Nils Molin), US Deathers I Am Morbid (formed by former members of Morbid Angel) – and also my little band Dragony. We joined our countrymen of Serenity as well as Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony and Victorius on the “Symphonic Power Alliance Tour 2022” across Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria between 6th and 16th April 2022.
Naturally, tensions were a bit high in the weeks leading up to the tour, as no one was sure whether the tour would be able to go down without any hiccups or whether Covid-19 or any related restrictions would throw wrenches into our plans.
Nonetheless, I was in good spirits as I set out to Austrian town Wörgl in the Tyrol on 5th April, where our keyboard player Manuel Hartleb and I planned to meet up with the tour bus the other bands. We drove to Wörgl with all our gear and merchandise in our cars, spent the night at the Hotel Schachtnerhof in Wörgl, and met early the next day with the guys from Serenity and the other bands, who had already gotten on the bus a day earlier in Germany.
After our gear had been loaded into the night liner’s trailer, Manuel and I dropped our cars off at a local parking area, and off we went to Munich – and our first show at the “Backstage,” where we also met up with our remaining bandmates, who had traveled there by train.
Of course, the first day of a tour is always a bit more stressful, as people don’t yet know each other, and organizational routines have not yet been established. Thus the load-in, setup, and sound checks for all the bands took a bit longer than expected, resulting in our in-ear monitoring setup not being 100% where we would have wanted it to be for our first show, and we were a bit worried about the situation.
As Dragony had gotten onto the tour billing last and in sort of a last-minute replacement, we would take the opener slot on all the shows of this tour, with about 30 minutes of playing time. It’s not super much, but enough to leave a (hopefully) good first impression and to warm up the crowd for the things to come.
However, when the intro to our set started and we hit the first notes of our opening track, “Gods of War,” our concerns evaporated. The crowd was in excellent spirits and ready to sing and clap along to our songs and the songs of all the other bands that would follow.
We were generally satisfied, but with room for improvement, we left the stage on that first night of the tour.
I will spare you the details of every show in the following paragraphs, as thankfully, the entire tour went off without a hitch – nobody fell sick (neither with Covid-19 nor otherwise), and the shows were well-attended. The bands and crew were one of the most relaxed ever, and everyone indeed got along excellently.
There were a few events that stood out, however – such as the show at the “Turock” in Essen (Germany), where a crowd of around 500 highly motivated people granted all the bands a hero’s welcome, and the traditionally more reserved German audience really wasn’t holding back at all! I suppose both bands and fans were hungry for the return of live shows.
Another event that stood out was our show in Enschede in the Netherlands, but this stood out for different reasons. For some reason, the audience that night seemed very hard to warm up to the support acts and only really came alive during the headliner’s set. But this show was the only time the audience wasn’t in the best of moods during this tour, so it was just a small hiccup during an otherwise exciting and fun tour.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to our fellow touring mates at this point: Victorius from Germany took to the stage every night directly after us, and their tongue-in-cheek Power Metal (or should I say: Power Rangers Metal?) was a delight for the fans. The band had just released the first single, “Dinos and Dragons,” from their upcoming new album, “Dinosaur Warfare Pt. 2,” and the classic 90s Power Rangers show heavily inspired both their album artwork, stage production, and outfits. As well as the 80s and 90s cartoons such as “Extreme Dinosaurs” – the theme song of which was also used as the band’s intro before their show. For their set, the band relied on band classics such as “Wrath of the Dragongod,” “Shuriken Showdown,” and “Supersonic Samurai,” but also included “Night of the Nuclear Ninja,” another new song from the upcoming album. Watching their energetic and fun performance every night was always a treat. At this point, I’d also like to give a shoutout to Frank Koppe from Victorius, who was also handling the drums for Dragony on this tour and did a fantastic job playing two shows back to back every night!
A different kind of beast was Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony. The legendary producer (Avantasia and many, many others) formed this project in 2019 when they released their first, and so far only, album “Signs of Wings.” However, the band faced some considerable challenges going into this tour. Unfortunately, their keyboard player Corvin had to be rushed to the hospital just days before the tour start, and therefore couldn’t join the tour (but is thankfully doing better – here’s to a full and speedy recovery!). Lead singer, Adrienne Cowan of Seven Spires was not available either, as the aforementioned Seven Spires were touring the United States at the same time supporting Dragonforce and, coincidentally, also my former band Visions of Atlantis. This was also the reason our bass player Herb, who also plays for VOA, wasn’t with us on this tour. So with keyboards missing altogether and Italian singer Chiara Tricarico (Moonlight Haze) taking over for Adrienne, the set of Masters of Ceremony moved away considerably from anything you could consider “Symphonic Metal.” Instead, the (now) quartet, consisting of Chiara, bass player André Neygenfind, drummer Felix Bohnke (of Edguy and Avantasia fame), and of course the maestro himself, Sascha Paeth on guitars and backing vocals, delivered a very old-school rock band approach every night. With a reduced, almost minimalistic instrumentation, which, however, resulted in very tight and groovy performances every night, and Chiara’s spot-on delivery of songs like “The Time Has Come,” “Signs of Wings,” or the Heaven’s Gate cover “Under Fire” left nothing to be desired. A very down-to-earth stylistic change from the otherwise pompous and overboard arrangements of the other bands on this tour, but certainly a welcome one!
The tour headliners Serenity are not only long-time friends at this point – we played our first show together with them back in 2009 – but also an established force in the European Melodic Metal scene. Their shows were bangers each and every night, with the multi-layered live vocals provided by all four(!) band members, including drummer Andi Schipflinger, being the standout characteristic of their songs. No matter whether they performed songs from their current album “The Last Knight,” such as “My Kingdom Comes,” “Set The World On Fire,” or “Call To Arms,” or whether they dug deep into their catalog and churned out classics like “Reduced To Nothingness” or “Legacy of Tudors,” the fans ate it up each and every night.
For the first five shows of the tour, Serenity received some support from Temperance members Marco Pastorino and Alfonso Mocerino, as well as bassist Gabriele Gozzi. They constitute Serenity singer Georg Neuhauser’s new project, Fallen Sanctuary. The band is set to release their debut album in June 2022, and the four-piece performed two singles from said album in the middle of Serenity’s set, namely “Broken Dreams” and “Terranova.” The two tracks were very well received, and particularly “Broken Dreams” turned out to be a merciless earworm. On the remainder of the tour, the Fallen Sanctuary mini-set was replaced by a short acoustic set, performed entirely by Serenity.
In closing, I can only say that it was both a fantastic and surreal experience to be back on the road again after basically two full years of almost no concerts. It was great seeing many friends again whom we hadn’t seen for years at this point, and it was wonderful to also hang out at the merch booth after the shows and have a few beers and chats together. Hopefully, we will be spared from another Covid comeback because, if anything, this tour showed us that the audience is more than ready for live shows again after a two-year drought, and so are the bands!
Dragony, for one, cannot wait to get back on the road! For now, it’s time to buckle down and get to work on a new album for 2023!