Jan Dahle reviewing ARTCH Wacken-prefomance.

Wacken Open Air is one of Europe's biggest heavy metal festivals, and every year metalheads from all over Europe travels to this country site in northern Germany the first weekend of August. I've been a regular there for a few years myself, but I have to admit that this year's line up wasn't really that impressive. That didn't really matter since we were going to see Artch perform in Germany for the first time. If this wasn't reason enough to be there, then there couldn't really be any good reasons at all.
I had traveled down by bus during the night, and arrived at the festival in the early afternoon on Friday. Artch would be playing on Saturday, but the guys dropped by the festival on Friday themselves. The boys had taken the ferry from Oslo in the morning of Thursday, and this of course meant that a few drinks and beers had been consumed on the trip. When I bumped into Cato and his wife backstage in the evening it was obvious that he had been drinking more than a couple of beers, and the same can be said about the rest of the our boys who were mingling in the backstage area. As promised Jørn had shown up to see the old boys, and everyone had a great night. Lots of alcohol had to be consumed, and a couple of the guys even managed to take a look at a band or two. It was also interestingly to hear Bernt and Eirikur talking about their game of squash which was to be played at 11 o'clock the next morning. Both of them insisted that it would be no problem, yours truly on the other hand really doubted that any of the guys would be able to play. It's a shame I didn't bet on it, like the guys themselves had done. Of course no one won the bet since there was no game as the guys tried to collect themselves to be able to show up at the meet and greet at 1 PM.
I missed the meet and greet, but according to the members of the band it hadn't been total Spinal Tap. What no one knew at the time was that everything would be a bit Spinal Tap later on, thanks to the festival's organizers who really messed up the running order during the day. Everyone from the Artch camp was relaxing backstage, and the mood was excellent. Then suddenly out of the blue came the message: Artch had been moved from Party Stage at 17:30 to Wet Stage at 21:30. This would maybe not have been a really big deal if it wasn't for the fact that Party Stage was located on a good spot inside the festival area, while Wet Stage was a tent outside the area. I'm sure I was just as pissed off as the guys themselves. Here Artch finally had their chance to play for thousands of metalheads from all over Europe, most of them unfamiliar with the band of course. In other words this was a golden opportunity to turn some uninformed into the best Norwegian metal band there ever was. With the change of stage there was now no chance of people just passing by and discovering on the spot that this band was worth checking out. Now the guys had to adjust to playing to those who already knew the band. Fortunately Eirikur managed to talk his way up on the Party Stage at the time Artch should have played to inform the waiting fans that their set had been moved to Wet Stage at 20:15. Yes, the time had been changed again, and now quite a few people had found out that the band would play at 21:30. This of course resulted in a few fans turning up too late.
Those of us who managed to turn up in the tent on time would find out that there were actually lots of fans there, but this was still nothing near the situation we had hoped for when the day was young. Wisely enough the guys opened with "Shoot To Kill", and it was immediately clear that the boys wouldn't mess up this gig. There is no doubt about this being the best concert they have done the last couple of years, and there was no doubt either that the guys had been rehearsing really well before this event. The set was a nice mix of songs from both of their albums, and we also got the relatively new "Jezebel". I was standing in the photo pit for the first couple of songs, and when I walked out among the rest of the fans I have to say that it was a really good feeling to see the band in front of such a big audience. If only the guys had been on the Party Stage! Among the fans in the audience was Jørn who after a while could be seen right in the front, enjoying his old band. The sound was good, thanks to long time Artch soundman Magne Østby. This was maybe the only good thing about the concert being in the tent, because the sound at the Party Stage was often messed up by the sound from the Main Stage during the festival.
If we take the situation in consideration, something we have to do, there is no doubt that Artch did the best we could expect. The concert was great, and the guys gave it all even though they were disappointed about the situation. Let's just hope they'll get another chance sometime in the future.

Jan Dahle