Porto's Own Metalfest?
Scorpions, Megadeth, Moonspell, Cradle of Filth, and Anger
at the "Imperial Ao Vivo" Open Air Festival, Porto, Portugal, July 4, 1997

by: Pedro Azevedo
Three nights of music in Porto, each one supposedly dedicated to a different musical style. First night, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, and a few others. Second, Scorpions headlining, plus Megadeth, Moonspell, Cradle of Filth, and Anger. Third and last, Prodigy's turn with Fluke. I -literally- couldn't care less about days 1 and 3, so this is all about the second day. The concert was supposed to start with Anger at 20:00, in front of a crowd estimated around 10 000 people. It's an open air show, just beside a river called Douro, really large stage and all. Just as I arrived there, Anger started playing... 19:40. The crowd was baffled, of course, but hey, no delays this time. The schedule was very tight, as the show had to be over relatively early because it was being held in an urban area. Anger are a debuting band from Aveiro, Portugal, and their style is easily defined as strongly influenced by Pantera. Their sound was clean, strong, and effective. They played well, but didn't really do anything remarkable. Then, after a 30-minute break for equipment changes and stuff... Cradle of Filth. Guess what, this time, they did play! Dani even apologized for what happened before, blaming it on the promoter again. They entered the stage amidst a smokescreen, all six wearing corpsepaint and some of them blood, all dressed in black. A rather strong presence. CoF turned out to be easily the best band of the evening, due to the power of their live sound (okay, and three great albums to back them up, too). Lots of CoF fans going totally crazy, of course, as they teared into the start of "To Eve the Art of Witchcraft". They followed with the classic "The Forest Whispers My Name", then "Malice Through the Looking Glass", "Dusk and Her Embrace", "Nocturnal Supremacy", "Ebony Dressed for Sunset", and (a nice surprise for me) "The Black Goddess Rises". Like I mentioned, their sound was very powerful, from the guitars, to the great drumming, to Dani's voice. However, the keyboards (new keyboardist, by the way) were mixed too low (they didn't even play the keyboard intro to "The Forest Whispers My Name", what a shame) and the guitarists were much more interested in shredding than in doing good melodic work or keeping those riffs clear. Dani's vocal performance was nothing short of great, from his most high-pitched screams to awesome extremely deep grunts. However, I was heavily disappointed by the absence of a female backing vocalist. They were supposed to be using one, as far as I knew. Thus, they didn't play "Queen of Winter, Throned" (dammit) and some of the other tracks had Dani doing some of the female vox parts himself, sounding weird, of course (almost ruined "The Black Goddess Rises"). They also played Slayer's "Hell Awaits" as an encore. Overall, one brutally great unleashing of rage and a brilliant concert, despite the melody problems. Moonspell were supposed to be next, but they swapped with Scorpions (who tried to quit the show, by the way), so I went to attend some personal matters during their performance. There was a larger amount of people enjoying their music than I expected. They played all their classics (<yawn>), but like I said, I was nowhere near the stage at that time. The only thing that actually caught my attention was their drummer, who really shows off a -lot-, doing some circus-like stuff while playing. The Scorpions played a long set (<yaaaaawn>), so the whole thing was more than behind schedule already. Next up were Megadeth. I hadn't heard their latest album yet, and even though they were one of my first favourite metal bands, I hadn't listened to anything of theirs for ages. They played very well, both older and newer songs, and the crowd reacted quite remarkably. However there was something about their sound. In one word, it was -bad-. In two words, -very bad-. Too bad to be true, I'd say. The instruments were all much too loud, and the guitars were unbelievably screechy, lots of noise, all too high-pitched. The guitar solos were ruined. It was physically painful. Some people actually had to step back and get far from the stage because of this. Personally, I endured it, but almost didn't enjoy it at all. Of what I could enjoy, "Sweating Bullets" from _Countdown to Extinction_ was my favourite song. Megadeth had to rush it, playing song after song almost non-stop, and they didn't even do an encore due to the schedule trouble I mentioned before. After another long break, late night already, Portuguese famous band Moonspell entered the stage. Unfortunately, not all was good. They opened with "Opium" and "Awaken", and the crowd loved it. Good stuff, pretty well played. However, Moonspell have changed bassist, and literally dropped a guitarist - they're a five piece band now, or at least they were in the concert. What a bad move. As the show proceeded, it became clear that the guitar sound was almost impossible to hear at times; still, they switched to their brilliant debut, _Wolfheart_, for "Midnight Ride", then back to _Irreligious_ for "Herr Spiegelmann". Then they played a new track... not much to be said, seemed sort of average, no clear style changes visible in that particular track. Next song was "Raven Claws" (sampled female voice, always lots of samples), and then... a Depeche Mode cover. Ack. Some of the crowd booed them. In my opinion, the song was worthless for a band like Moonspell. On to "Ruin & Misery", and then the big moment, their classic crowd-pleaser "Vampiria". Being a very keyboard-based song, it turned out pretty well, even though the harsher parts weren't so, er, harsh live. Most of the crowd joined in the lyrics, as in some other parts before. They -had- to play an encore, even though it was all way behind schedule, and vocalist Fernando Ribeiro (very good performance of his) came back to the stage with a Portuguese flag to sing Moonspell's tribute to Portugal, "Alma Mater"... my favourite Moonspell song. I had to think, hey, what a great way to finish this concert. Er, right. The problem is that "Alma Mater" needs guitar sound, and it just wasn't there. I mean, the guitar sound just wasn't there and the guitarist didn't even seem to be trying it too hard. What could be heard of the melody came from the keyboards. Fortunately, though, a big part of the audience sang (screamed, growled, grunted, whatever) along, especially to the chorus. The dust finally settled at 03:00. Seven hours and twenty minutes total. One very big concert, some good moments and some disappointing ones. I'll want to see who's coming next year. Hopefully, this will become Porto's own metalfest.

(article submitted 12/8/1997)

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