Live report APOCALYPTICA, EPICA & WHEEL, Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg – January 28th, 2023

Hamburg faces tonight a kind of ‘-ca’ night with Apocalyptica and Epica being in town. The third band, being part of the ‘The Epic Apocalypse Tour’ are Wheel from Finland.

The first thing one notices is a 200m queue of fans, waiting for the opening of doors of the Grosse Freiheit 36. Such a line of fans generates some curiosity and some people asked who is playing tonight.

Doors opened at 18:00 which is rather early, and it is 20 minutes later, when Wheel enter the stage. Due to the long queue and because of the short time span between admission and show start, Wheel begin in front of a relatively empty hall. The Anglo Finnish progressive metal force released pretty good records of which the ‘Rumination’-EP is the latest to date. Unfortunately, Wheel have not only to deal with a slowly filling venue but also don’t get the best sound tonight. And with a rather short playing time of 25 minutes the band doesn’t have a lot of time to show their potential entirely. Still there are a few fans in the front row that give Wheel a warm applause which the band for sure deserved.

Then it’s time for Epica. The band is coming from a home gig at the relatively big AFAS Arena in Amsterdam while the Grosse Freiheit offers a much smaller stage tonight. Nevertheless, the six-piece powerhouse do not miss the moment to offer their fans the expected great show.

The temperature in the, in the meantime, well crowded venue rises rapidly which is also noticed by Simone Simons when she calls the Grosse Freiheit the hottest gig so far.

With ten songs and 70 minutes playing time, the show is not excessively long, which is partly since curfew is at 10 p.m., probably because there is another event on the schedule afterwards.

Nevertheless, Epica fans get everything they could expect. Good mood, action on stage, great songs and a band that performs as a union. Everyone has fun tonight and when Epica start their set with ‘Abyss if Time – Countdown to Singularity’ the fans are fully engaged. Of course, Simone Simons doesn’t miss the chance to do the announcements in German, as she has been living near Stuttgart for many years.

From calmer moments like ‘Rivers’ via sing-along songs like ‘Cry for the Moon’ to jumping fans during ‘Beyond the Matrix’, everyone gets what was expected and even if things come to an end after just 70 minutes, Epica used the time available for a powerful performance and will surely be welcomed again with open arms by fans on their next visit to the Hanseatic city.

Apocalyptica have released with ‘Cell-O’ their latest album in 2020, but couldn’t go on tour with this release due to some well-known reasons. Therefore, the Finns present some of the songs live today and start into with ‘Ashes of the Modern World’ in their set. That metal, played with cellos, finds popularity is shown by the packed venue. With ‘En Route’ and ‘Rise’ two additional songs from the recent record appear on the setlist and are enthusiastically embraced by the fans.

Most of the Apocalyptica songs are instrumental, but the band also has some tracks with the support of a singer in their repertoire. So also tonight. With Frankie Perez the band has an old buddy with them on tour and thus ‘I’m Not Jesus’ and ‘I Don’t Care’ become sing-along tunes for the fans. And that Perez is also able to handle the drums is shown during ‘Shadowmaker’ when he takes over the place behind the drums for a short time. When the band plays ‘Killing in the Name’ from Rage Against The Machine there is no stopping them.

Apocalyptica got a lot of attention in 1996 when the band covered Metallica’s song with their cellos and of course there are two of these songs on tonight’s setlist: ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘Seek and Destroy’. Also the last song of the evening is a cover version, but this time it is a highlight of classical music that is performed. The band has saved with ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ by Edvard Grieg a special highlight until the end of their show and is seen off stage with a thunderous applause.

The ’-ca’ package works. Apocalyptica and Epica are a powerful combination and attract with their music a similar fanbase. The sold-out Grosse Freiheit showed this clearly tonight and hopefully Wheel, who is a great addition to this package, will face some better circumstances than tonight in Hamburg.

Setlist Epica

  1. Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity
  2. The Essence of Silence
  3. Victims of Contingency
  4. Fools of Damnation
  5. The Final Lullaby
  6. Rivers
  7. Code of Life
  8. Cry for the Moon
  9. Beyond the Matrix
  10. Consign to Oblivion

Setlist Apocalyptica

  1. Ashes of the Modern World
  2. Grace
  3. En Route to Mayhem
  4. Rise
  5. I’m Not Jesus
  6. Shadowmaker
  7. I Don’t Care
  8. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
  9. Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)
  10. Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover)
  11. In the Hall of the Mountain King (Edvard Grieg cover) (encore)

Location: Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg, Germany

Date: January 28th, 2023

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