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Zeche; Bochum, Germany; 04/09/02

Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

"Planet Panic" is already Pretty Maid's fifteenth official release, and the band, around Ken Hammer and Ronnie Atkins, are celebrating their 20th anniversary in rock. We traveled 150 kilometers to the East in order to celebrate and hang out at their birthday party.

Arriving at the Bochum Zeche, there was already an extensive crowd inside the club while outside a huge line has formed. It proves the popularity of the Pretty Maids as well as their special guests Royal Hunt! 

Just in time, the strict security managed to bring everyone in to enjoy some of Denmark's best live!
André Anderson and his men didn't shoot blanks that night although the soundman needed some adjustment of his aims. The first two or three songs were drowning in a cacophony of sound, but Kjaer, Morgensen, Anderson and West were reflecting so much pleasure on stage that no one even seemed to notice. While the sound kept improving, we were presented with some of the band's best work, including: "The Mission," "Message to God," "Ten to Life," "Days of No Trust," and the brilliant "Last Goodbye." From behind his stack of keyboards Anderson constantly played with the front rows of the sold-out venue, meanwhile dueling with Jakob Kjaer. Battles were fought constantly between these two maestros. Above all this pompous bombastic mayhem, there's the everlasting powerful voice of John West. This guy's voice is breathtaking! This band simply has it all to make it big. Soon after, the first 15 minutes are long forgotten!

It was time for the party animal to light the fire! "Planet Panic" has just been released in Europe and Atkins and Hammer wisely decided not to lean too much on this current CD. "Playing God," "Natural High," "He Who Never Lived" and the brilliant "Virtual Brutality" were delivered in a firm Maiden way. Hammer and Atkins' relied more on another classic tonight: "Future World," on which they captured the true spirit of Pretty Maids. Their hammer-hard metal blended with an ultra melodic feel marked a different time in rock. On this CD it simply all added up! Brilliant versions of "Rodeo" (where the crowd goes wild), "Eye of the Storm," "We Came to Rock" and the classic title track were fired upon us. The band was in top shape, the sound was now crystal clear, and the lightning show was simply wonderful. 

Ken Hammer was shredding guitar with his loud heavy riffs, and soloing like crazy in between. Ronnie Atkins was in superb condition. Sometimes his voice sounds crystal clear with the intensity of the ballads, screaming at the top of his lungs when they hammer away, than moved onto a bluesy and deep roaring voice in the bluesier parts of their music. Atkins proves to be a chameleon with a lot of charisma. 

Every album was represented with at least one song leading to a well-balanced great set list of quality. After one and half hours of pure melodic metal the band left the stage to recharge their batteries for a final strike. Returning without Ken Hammer (who was apparently "...taking a shit") Ronnie Atkins played an intimate version of their hit-single "Savage Heart" on piano, anticipated by the audience. When Ken returned it was time to put the pedal down one more time with "Future World," ""Live Until It Hurts," and then finishing in a huge way with "Red Hot & Heavy."

With this gig, Pretty Maids proved to be on top of the melodic metal ladder and not to be knocked off soon! The club was sizzling hot, and the music was darn heavy ...

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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.