Grave Digger & Burning Witches in Hamburg Live Review

Grave Digger & Burning Witches in Hamburg

Live Review By Rainer Kerber

Location: Markthalle, Hamburg
Date: January 22nd 2019

Almost forty years and twenty studio albums, three compilations and two live albums, that is the balance in figures for the Metal grandseigneurs Grave Digger. In addition, countless tours and appearances at various festivals. In 2019 they are on the road again, across Europe. On this cold January day, the “Tour of the Living Dead” stopped in the Markthalle Hamburg. As a special guest, the newcomer Burning Witches from Switzerland took part. The pictures of the evening can be seen on Flickr.

On time at 8 pm, the intro for the appearance of the Swiss Burning Witches was heard. The quintet was founded in the spring of 2015 by guitarist Romana Kalkuhl. In December, the self-produced demo was released in a limited edition, one year later, the self-titled debut album. Album number two (“Hexenhammer”) was released on Nuclear Blast. And this presented Burning in their 50-minute appearance extremely impressive. Singer Seraina Telli convinced with powerful and varied vocals. The screams were reminiscent of Rob Halford. Sonia Nusselder shone again and again by ingenious guitar solos, while band leader Romana was responsible for the quieter solos. Jay Grob on bass and Lala Frischknecht behind the battery set the rhythm. So, Burning Witches conquered the hearts of the Hamburg metal fans by storm. The highlight was probably the Dio cover “Holy Diver”. Even the photographers in front of the stage were thrilled with the show, so they forgot to count the first three songs and had to be reminded by the security that the time was over.

Burning Witches

Setlist Burning Witches:

  • Executed
  • Metal Demons
  • We Eat Your Children
  • Hexenhammer
  • Bloody Rose
  • Save Me
  • Black Widow
  • Open Your Mind
  • Holy Diver
  • Burning Witches

Grave Digger have shrunk to the quartet and are on stage without a keyboardist. Keyboarder Marcus Kniep is sitting on the drums. The role of the Grim Reaper in the intro (and later performances) is done by the Guitar-Tech. But the songs work without the keys. The tour was named after the current album, of which only three are on the program. Grave Digger have much more to offer. So you can hear a successful mix of new and old. Whether classics like “The Bruce (The Lion King)”, “Excalibur” or “Lionheart” but also newer songs (“Lawbreaker”, “War God”) Grave Digger convinced all along. As it was self-evident that the fans sang along loudly. So Chris Boltendahl could renounce the singing of the chorus in “Rebellion”. From several hundred throats of the chorus sounded “The Clan’s are marching ‘gainst the Law …”. And the singer had a lot of fun and led as usual charming throughout the evening. Guitarist Axel Ritt kept shining with brilliant solos and impressively showed that he is one of the best in his profession. New drummer Marcus drove the band forward. And bass player Jens Becker provided the groove. However, he rejected a bass solo demanded by the fans, “Better we play one more song”. It goes without saying that Grave Digger had to go into extra time. Here, too, again mixed new and old. After “Healed By Metal” (2017), “Zombie Dance” (2018) had a real party atmosphere. The crowning finale was THE Grave Digger classic “Heavy Metal Breakdown” from the debut album of the same name (1984).

Setlist Grave Digger:

  • Fear of The Living Dead
  • Tattooed Rider
  • The Clans Will Rise Again
  • Lionheart
  • Blade of The Immortal
  • Lawbreaker
  • The Bruce (The Lion King)
  • The Dark of the Sun
  • Call For War
  • The Curse of Jacques
  • War God
  • Season of the Witch
  • Highland Farewell
  • Circle of Witches
  • Excalibur
  • Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)


  • Healed By Metal
  • Zombie Dance
  • Heavy Metal Breakdown

Madness! What was that evening? Two grandiose metal bands shred the stage of the Markthalle. Two bands that can not be more different, the young girls from Burning Witches from Switzerland and the German Metal dinosaur Grave Digger. Both bands have one thing in common, their love for heavy metal. And the fans in the market hall saw the same thing. That was really amazing.

MHF Magazine/Rainer Kerber