Rockwave Festival is the biggest rock and metal festival in Greece and every summer the Greek fans are waiting for it with anxiety. People who have been in rock/metal festivals in foreign countries can make their comparisons, nevertheless, it is the only big festival in Greece, where we have the opportunity to see and hear big names of the rock/metal scene. So, at Thursday, 19th of July 2018, we were about to enjoy the live performance of the mighty Judas Priest plus two classic bands of 80s heavy metal (Accept and Saxon), one of the most popular names in the contemporary metal biz (Sabaton) and three Greek acts (Jacks Full, Null ‘O’ Zero and Foray Between Ocean). The billing was great, our appetite big and at 4 o’ clock we passed the entrance of Terra Vibe!

When we got there, Jacks Full had already given their show, so as you understand, I cannot make any comments. Surely they gave their best under the hot rays of the sun, before some fans, who had the ability to be at Malakasa on time. I can also give you some details about this Greek heavy rock band – they were formed in 2014 in Athens and their self-titled debut was released in April 2015 and won raves from the press.

I had the chance to witness the live show of Null ‘O’ Zero. The Greeks have just released their new record (“Instructions to Dominate”), which was praised by fans and critics. Well, I liked very much how they played and can even say that I fancied their songs more in this live performance. We must mention their nice guitars and the powerful vocals – all included in a storming set, which enthused the fans. Nicely done!

Null ‘O’ Zero passed the baton to Foray Between Ocean. This concert was my first encounter with this Greek band since I haven’ t listened to their debut album, “Depression Neverending” – I was nicely introduced to their deathcore/prog black/death metal sound, and yes, I really dig their stuff! Foray between Ocean were very passionate, energetic and had a fine sound, which helped them perform their interesting songs. Especially the singer impressed the fans with his variety of vocal styles. I am sure we will meet again, guys!

As the time was passing, more and more people were arriving and took their seat in front of the main stage. Of course, they were waiting for a classic metal legend – Accept! The Germans entered the stage furiously and their first live song was “Die by the Sword”. The headbanging began with the first song from the past. “Restless and Wild” drove us insane and everybody started singing! The rest was pure metal history; “Metal Heart”, “Balls to the Wall”, “Princess of the Dawn”, “Fast As A Shark”, “I’m A Rebel” plus some of the strongest new tracks of the band, i.e. “Pandemic”, “KoolAid”, “Teutonic Terror” etc. Generally, this Accept concert was a blast, the Germans know how to produce energy and communicate with the audience, and I have only positive things to say! Some problems with his guitar didn’ t stop Wolf Hoffmann to scream and shoot with his guitar riffs and solos, Peter Baltes was a leading figure with his bass and Mark Tornillo shows again how perfect he is replacing Udo Dirkschneider. What a killer show!

Saxon was next to hit the stage. Just think of it, my friends: we don’t have every day the chance to enjoy Accept and Saxon back to back… It was a precious moment! Everybody was warm now after the Accept concert, so, when Saxon appeared in front of us, we became delirious! Biff Byford and company were there for us and they rocked big time! The NWOBHM myth of Saxon took us by storm with a selection of old and more recent tunes – “Motorcycle Man”, “Strong Arm of the Law”, “Power and the Glory”, “Crusader”, “Princess of the Night”, “Wheels of Steel”, “Denim and Leather”, “Heavy Metal Thunder” are glorious songs of traditional heavy metal and Saxon satisfied us with their energy, power and melodic hooks! From the more recent songs, I would like to mention “They Played Rock n’ Roll”, this Motorhead tribute, which proved to be a fantastic live number. The Brits played also their popular cover of Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like the Wind”, an amazing moment of their show. In a nutshell, Saxon played like there is tomorrow and pleased every fan, although I would prefer some more old songs instead of the new ones, for example, “Solid Ball of Rock” and “Dogs of War”. Hell on Earth!

A large number of fans went to the other stage, to see the famous Sabaton. I followed the majority of the fans and waited some minutes to enjoy the Sweds. Sabaton had brought all their stage show, that means that they had all their pyrotechnics, the incredible light show, the tank on stage and the video wall behind the drummer’s kit. The quintet gave an impressive show, during which they played all their biggest hits. It was my first time on a Sabaton show and I can frankly say that what I saw and heard was fantastic, although I am not into this “polished” battle metal. “Ghost Division”, “Winged Hussars”, “Swedish Pagans”, “Carolus Rex”, ‘Sparta”, “Coat of Arms”, “The Last Stand”, “Primo Victoria”, “Into the Fire” were some of the tracks of the show and were enough for us to get adrenalized! Sabaton include many elements in their sound, for example, ethnic/folk elements and power metal elements, which were all recognized in this live show. I especially noticed their fine technique and their ideal communication with the fans. What we witnessed was a sonic attack by the Swedish troopers, who proved once again their skills!

The hour that everybody was waiting had come. Hey, Judas Priest, the metal gods, would play for us and our heart was beating fastly. And finally, after the intro of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, the Brits went on stage, with the fans screaming and yelling! The first song was “Firepower” and “Grinder” followed – it was obvious that Priest had a perfect sound and their performance was extraordinary, even better than the studio recordings! The guitar phrases were astonishing, the rhythm section was falling on us like an anvil and the one and only Rob Halford was in an excellent condition, sounding extremely good! He was there singing for us, like there is no tomorrow – he even entered the stage at a moment on his motorcycle! The songs that the band decided to play sent us to heaven – or hell?!, since all these songs were classics. You could see the excitement of the fans, who were electrified by such classics as “Sinner”, “Saints in Hell”, “Turbo Lover”, “Tyrant”, “Night Comes Down”, “Freewheel Burning”, “Hell Bent for Leather”, “Painkiller” and the list goes on! The concert lasted approximately one hour and a half, during which the legendary band from Birmingham, England, didn’t just deliver the goods, but showed us all its power, all its skills, all its high level. Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing weren’ t there, but Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap replaced them ideally – the twin-guitar was an unstoppable force, which hit us right between our eyes. Of course, Scott Travis played like a beast and Ian Hill was the humble bass wizard! I would like to notice two things – firstly, Judas Priest didn’t play “Hellion/Electric Eye” – but who can have complaints, after this amazing live gig?! And secondly, the fans weren’t more than a few thousands – maybe because a lot of fans decided to go to the next day’s concert of Iron Maiden. Priest’s said goodbye to us with “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight”. The whole show was phenomenal, without a doubt, everyone who didn’t attend the show, missed a heavy metal inferno!

Dimitris Zacharopoulos