HELLOWEEN's Kai Hansen has admitted to using taped vocals during the opening show of the band's "Pumpkins United" world tour. The trek features the reunited expanded classic lineup of the German power metal outfit, consisting of seven musicians, including Hansen and former vocalist Michael Kiske alongside current singer Andi Deris and guitarist Sascha Gerstner.
Although HELLOWEEN's October 19 concert at Escena in Monterrey, Mexico received mostly positive reviews, fans in attendance and others watching clips on YouTube have accused Kiske of faking his way through some of the more difficult singing parts of the gig.
Now, in a brand new interview with Jump Metal, Hansen addressed the "playback" accusations leveled at HELLOWEEN, explaining that the move was necessitated by Kiske's ill health.
Speaking about Michael's current condition, Kai said (hear audio below): "He's getting better. He was already a little ill when we left Germany [on our way to the first show], and, of course, during the flight it got worse, and the next day, so he was really fighting very hard on stage, especially with this long program. So now he's getting much better. We will maybe reduce the setlist a little bit for the next shows so we don't play maybe two hours and fifty [minutes], we play maybe twenty minutes less — give him a little more space to recover. And, of course, me and Sascha and Andi, we will support him with vocals as good as we can, so united we will do the thing."
Hansen added that Kiske saw a doctor and was prescribed "some antibiotics and some other spray stuff and so on — the usual things — and he's actually better."
As for why HELLOWEEN decided to use backing tapes at the Monterrey concert, Hansen said: "Well, actually, on the first show — it was only the first one — we had to make a choice, because [Michael] was really feeling pretty bad. And he said, 'I don't know if can do it.' So we said, 'Okay, we have a backup voice for him.' Normally it's only used for your own in-ear, for parts to get some more control, but this time we said, 'Okay, there are some passages that are really hard for him to sing, and we might… if the sound engineer realizes, he can use that as well. So maybe he did sometimes. But I think it's fair enough. I mean, he really tried very hard, and for one thing, we really did not want to cancel the show. So he was really singing and giving all the best he could. He was prepped with medication, of course, so it worked halfway well, but there were certain parts that were replaced, and, honestly, yep, we stand to that; I think we made the right decision to do it that way."
According to Kai, scrapping the concert was deemed the less desirable option, forcing the band to try to salvage the gig to the best of the musicians' abilities.
"There were so many people coming to see the show, and it's not like that [Michael] couldn't sing at all," Hansen said. "It was just like he was not fit. So canceling would have been really such a downer for everybody, and for us, for the band, as well. We wanted to play, we wanted to go on stage, we wanted to do a show, and the people wanted to have a show. So we did it."
One example of Kiske apparently singing along to a tape during the Monterrey show can be seen in the YouTube clip below (around the 4:07 mark).
The concert marked the first time Kiske has played live with HELLOWEEN since his 1993. Hansen, who also departed HELLOWEEN in 1988, has been joining the band onstage on various tours and festival appearances throughout the years. The set featured several duets with Kiske and his replacement, Deris, along with many rarely played songs, including "Kids Of The Century", "Rise And Fall" and "Livin' Ain't No Crime". Hansen — who fronted HELLOWEEN until late 1986 — sang a medley of several early HELLOWEEN classics, including "Ride The Sky", "Judas", "Starlight" and "Heavy Metal (Is The Law)". The show concluded with a video tribute to original drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, who passed away in 1995.
HELLOWEEN released its first reunion single, "Pumpkins United", earlier in the month.