We headed to Tilburg, on Sunday (January 12th), in anticipation of at long last seeing the new Roland Grapow, Uli Kusch band Masterplan play live with the other support band Nostradameus and the headliners Hammerfall.
Having already heard the awesome new album I was expecting to see a great live show. We arrived at the box office to pick up our press passes and we ran into a spot of bother, as there had been a mix up with the record company, which was quickly resolved. Was this the shape of things to come?
I headed down to the photo pit to take up my customary spot. Nostradameus were the opening act for the evening, unfortunately due the mix up at the box office I didn't get to see their whole show, but what I saw I was quite impressed with a tight set of good metal music, but their sound wasn't too good... "Oh no!", I thought, "This doesn't bode well for the Masterplan guys".
So the intro to the new album kicked in through the P. A. and the guys appeared, Uli taking up his position behind his kit, Roland carrying his Les Paul which he has taken to using now and Jan sporting a rather fetching bass in the shape of a huge transparent fish! This was paying homage to the logo of Roland's club in Hamburg, the Headbangers' Ballroom. They kicked of the evening with "Spirit Never Die" and I could tell that something wasn't right as from "the pit" all I could hear was Jan's bass and Uli's drums pounding away. Roland and Axel were totally drowned out, and when Jorn started to sing I couldn't hear him at all. At the end of "Enlighten Me" one of the roadies called Jorn over and changed his mike for a new one, and then we could hear the awesome voice. I think that the "mike problem" through the guys off their stride a bit and seemed to un-nerve them slightly, but they carried on like the consummate professionals and fired into "Crystal Night", by now the sound seemed to be a little better.
We later found out from Roland, during our interview with him, that they didn't get very long for a sound check that evening, and the guy who was doing the sound mixing for them hadn't heard the album, so he didn't know what to expect really.
But all in all they all worked through the problem and it was turned around very quickly. And by the fourth song "Heroes" they seemed to relax into and to enjoy their performance better. I moved back from "the pit" into the throng and from where I was stood I could tell that the initial sound problems had been sorted, although Axel's keyboard levels were a little on the low side still. The audience reaction was a bit weird as well, but it was to be expected as the majority of them probably hadn't heard any of the new material as the new album hasn't been released officially yet! The guys started off a song, and the gathered crowd were a bit slow to "get into" the new material, but by the middle part of each song they "got it" and were banging along in unison with the songs as they went by.
The set continued with two of my favourite tracks in "Soulburn" and "Kind Hearted Light" which were played as they are on the album, with power and precession. "Into the Light", and small medley of tunes from the album and the superb "Crawling From Hell" rounded off the set.
All in all a great show considering the sound problems.