After a short night a little bit later back to Dessel. The parking hassle seemed to be longer than the days before. Anyway, I was able to park in the field and then joined quite a lot of people walking to the festival ground. The weather was predicted to be much warmer than the days before. And the farewell of Kiss. A good reason to go to Graspop for loads of people. When arriving I had the feeling the Sunday was the most crowded day. After a coffee in the Press Area of to the first band (for me).
My interest was triggered by the members of this announced super group; Deadland Ritual. The names , Franky Perez (Apocalyptica), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) are interesting. As expected covers of their individual bands were integrated in their set, a cover followed by an own song, etc. The opener ‘Symptom of the Universe’ (Black Sabbath) was followed by the not yet released ‘Dimas’ and then ‘Neon Knights’ (Black Sabbath). The reaction of the audience was not really great. It changed with ‘Slither’ (Velvet Revolver). ‘Rebel Yell’ (Billy Idol) added again more enthusiasm. Clearly their own songs were not that convincing. All musicians played very good, but most impressive was Geezer Butler. He played the bass extremely well and the choice of ‘War Pigs’ (Black Sabbath) as closing set most likely made him and everybody feel very pleased. A gig with two faces, but with a happy end.
Most of previous gig was seen from the Main Stage 2. I wanted to have a decent spot in front of the stage for Delain. They didn’t pay much attention to it, but it was last show with guitarist Merel Bechtold. Singer and front woman Charlotte Wessels welcomed us with a big smile and immediately points to the bright and warm sun: “Sorry Graspop, I did dress up accordingly”. When looking around more people did similar. The start did have some small technical issues. Luckily that was solved quickly and when George Oosthoek (Orphanage, MaYan) joined with ‘Hands of Gold’ all could go into the next gear. George helped to give the symphonic metal a darker edge. Plenty of movement on stage by all that were not ‘fixed’. All locations on stage were used by Merel, Timo Somers (guitarist), Baron Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (bass) and mainly the front of stage by Charlotte. Martijn Westerholt (keys) and Joey de Boer (drum) did their job very well like always. The interaction between the band members was also attractive. Definitely with more fun, than most other bands I’ve seen this weekend. They enjoyed their 4th visit of GMM for sure an they did a lot make a fest for the audience too. A second guest was added to the line-up for ‘Pristine’ (with George Oosthoek) and ‘Mother Machine ’. Elianne Anemaat joined on cello to add an extra symphonic layer to the songs. With the classic closing ‘We Are The Others’ almost everyone in the crowd of the stage joined singing and jumping. Definitely a good show of Delain.
A pity that Gojira (Main Stage 1) played at the same time as Fleshgod Apocalypse (Marquee). Italy is not really considered to be a metal country but in the meantime there are quite some goods bands there; Lacuna Coil, Rhapsody, Forgotten Tomb, Necrodeath and Ancient Bards. Fleshgod Apocalypse fits in that list as well. They offer something special, the unique mix of raging death metal and classic arrangements seems to be a good recipe to create some interest. In a well filled Marquee they had a new opportunity to present their music. Fleshgod Apocalypse opened with the strong ‘The Violation’, a song that is an almost perfect reference to Fleshgod Apocalypse: beating and seducing. The costumes and the stage setup reflect the classical part, the instruments (except the piano) the heavy side. Well in shape, the trio Francesco Paoli (Vocals Guitar), Paolo Rossi (Bass, vocal) and Francesco Ferrini (piano) supported live by opera singer Veronica Bordacchini, Fabio Bartoletti (guitar) and David Folchitto (drums), delivered an interesting set. Including ‘Healing Through War’ and ‘Syphilis’. During ‘The Fool’ the crowd reacted to the request for a wall of death. With ‘The Forsaking’ ended a great show of an intriguing band.
Singer David Coverdale became more known when he join Deep Purple. What a coincidence that a few days earlier at the same stage Glenn Hughes, another legendary Deep Purple musician/vocalist, played. However the voices are quite different. The raw throat sounds of David fits pretty well to the blues hard rock of Whitesnake. With 67 candles he’s good in shape and knows how to entertain. After a few ups and down, recently Whitesnake released a new album “Flesh & Blood”. Of course they played some new songs; ‘Hey You (You Make Me Rock)’and ‘Trouble Is Your Middle Name’. But they opened with ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Slide It In’ and ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’. The too long solo’s (guitar and drums) destroyed the momentum. Maybe OK at a venue headliner show, but not that suited for a festival gig. The indication jukebox is used earlier in the GMM reviews, it also applies to Whitesnake; ‘Is This Love’, ‘Give Me All Your Love’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Still of the Night’ proved that suggestion.
Def Leppard, was something to look for. They were part of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) together with Iron Maiden and Saxon. With ‘Rocket ‘, ‘Animal’, ‘Armageddon It’, ‘Love Bites’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ a number of hits of the album “Hysteria” released in 1987 the focus was definitely was on old material. Despite these classics, they couldn’t convince. Moving to Eluveitie in the Marquee might have been a better option. Unfortunately more people had the same idea and it hardly possible to get in. Back to Def Leppard, but most likely time and incidents had gotten hold of the band. Even the finale with ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘Photograph’ couldn’t meet the expectations.
In the GMM weekend Sabaton played twice at Hellfest (one time to solve a Manowar issue). Their next stop was Graspop, to headline at Main Stage 2. The stage ‘represented’ a first world war battlefield situated near Verdun (according to the city name at the ‘concrete poles’). The drum kit at a tank, and some canons including sandbags and barbed wire. Sabaton seemed to be quite popular in Belgium, because the field between stage and Marquee was quite packed. The best option was from the side, Main Stage 1. Sabaton opened as usual with ‘Ghost Division’. Joakim Brodén had some voice issues in France, but now it seemed to be OK. The same with the energy of the band. A nice add-on to Sabaton’s ‘The Great Tour’ show was the support of the ‘Great War Choir’. Sabaton served a mix from various albums and two new songs. But first ‘Winged Hussars’ and ‘Resist and Bite’ about the Belgian battle of the Ardennes. Then the new ‘Fields Of Verdun’ of the upcoming album “The Great War” (about WW I). The second new one was ‘Bismarck’, recently released. Thena regular Sabaton show followed with hits like ‘The Lion From The North’, ‘Carolus Rex’, ‘Night Witches’ and classics ‘40:1’ and ‘Primo Victoria’. Almost at the end of the set the request from the crowd was rewarded and ‘Swedish Pagans’ was played. With ‘To Hell And Back’ Sabaton closed a great show with a lot of pyro. Definity they gained a new ticket to Graspop.
The show at GMM was for Gene Simmons (bass) and gang named Kiss, the farewell in Belgium. Their last set had an earlier start and a later end. For me, the first time to see them live (and at the same time the last). Was it meeting my expectations? No and Yes. Too many less known songs, Kiss doesn’t have that many hits, and singer/guitarist Paul Stanley asked a little bit too much with his typical high voice if we were happy. And yes, it was a visual spectacle and sufficient interesting to stay until the end. The moving platforms in the ridge of the podium provided many options. With ‘Rock and Roll’ (Led Zeppelin) as intro, Simmons, Stanley en Tommy Thayer (guitar) arrived on these platforms. Drummer Eric Singer had his one moving riser with his drum kit. The opener ‘Detroit Rock City’ was a great choice. A big element in the show was the pyro and that was used a lot. With ‘Shout it Out Loud’ Simmons showed his long tongue and lasers lightened the Stenehei. Sometimes simple can be fun too. ‘Deuce’ did bring the groove, ‘War Machine’ again more flames. It was obviously not yet hot enough today at Graspop. With ‘100,000 Years‘ a great drum solo of Singer at the highest level of the drum riser. Next highlight was ‘God of Thunder’ with Simmons on his bass-axe spitting blood. Unfortunately not cleaned later, because the blood still on his armour didn’t match the other songs. More fun with Starchild Stanley, who hovered over the heads of the audience to a small podium on top of the sound tower. At the small stage over there he performed ‘Love Gun’, with the others at the Main Stage. Followed by disco-classic ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. Back in time at Main Stage to close the main dish with ‘Black Diamond’, with all up in front, with the drum set already at the highest level. Kiss came back one more time, for a very last farewell kiss. First the moment of glory of Singer behind a grand piano with the song ‘Beth’. The other band members came back for popping versions of ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ and ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. Including balloons, confetti and massive fireworks.
The farewell of Kiss, was also the farewell of GMM 2019. Looking forward already for the next edition.