No prizes for guessing for what we have here, it is a live album recorded at Wacken in 2018 (also available as a DVD and as a combined set). Unlike the other live album I have heard from them, recorded at the same venue nearly twenty years earlier, the production is very good indeed. Like many other rock fans, I was aware of this band back in the Eighties, coming across them at the time of their second album, ‘Fireworks’, although I haven’t heard too much of them in the last 30 years. But here they were on home turf and the crowd knew what they wanted and responded to the band as if they were headliners. It is a typical festival setlist, with all the hits presented, so songs such as “Ready 4 Reaction“, “Sweet Obsession“ and “American Nights“ are all there. For anyone who hasn’t come across them before this is melodic hard rock/metal with keyboards also making their presence felt and plenty of power metal leanings. Only guitarist Hans Ziller can lay claim to having been there for any period of time, with no-one else having been in the band for more than five years, but they know what they are doing and in singer Alexx Stahl they have someone who not only has a great voice but understands the role of frontman.
The album itself is made up of ten songs, plus some bonus cuts, and right up to the tenth song I was really enjoying the album, then it all started to go wrong. That tenth song is “Champion”, which they crunch through in fine fashion, loads of soloing guitars, drums going crazy, and it sounds like a set closer. The crowd react, and Alexx talks to them in German, then music starts again – I think this is music that was played over the speakers as they left the stage, but it has been produced here as if it is a “hidden song”, which then annoyingly fades out and left me wondering what has happening. If that wasn’t enough, then as part of the bonus songs we get one of the most boring versions of ‘Locomotive Breath” I have ever heard which just slumbers along. Guys, this was often an encore with Tull as it was so full of energy, what happened? Sounds as if the engine is out of coal and limping towards a station. The other songs aren’t nearly as bad, but I felt that while the album had started with a real bang it had ended poorly. It would have been better to leave it as the straight ten songs and not tried anything clever to pad it out, it would have been a better result for everyone, especially the listener.