Sound: Blind Guardian is the quintessential power metal band. Fantasy-related lyrics inspired by the likes of Tolkien, major-key melodies, punishingly fast tempos, slow, acoustic, almost medieval-sounding ballads, and orchestral arrangements are all power metal staples, and what band can do all of that as well as Blind Guardian? No one, and that is why they remain power metal royalty to this day. The band's sound, performance, and stage presence would have been remarkable even for a young band at the peak of their powers. Considering the main members of Blind Guardian are all over 40 years old and have been playing as a band for nearly 25 years, it was nothing short of amazing. But maybe it was the band's extended career that made them so great, because they clearly were very experienced in playing together. Their sound was extremely tight, which is remarkable considering all the grand, sweeping parts in their music. Hansi Kursch's voice was a particular high point of the performance (no pun intended.) He hit probably 95% of the high notes he hit on the records, and those he couldn't quite get he probably knew beforehand, and as a result he still made his vocals on those moments melodic and matching the song. Not to mention that he has the coolest accent ever for talking to a crowd. Andre used an ESP, and Marcus used a Les Paul. Frederik was playing a big Tama kit, as is common for metal drummers. Their mix was near perfect, but because I was standing right in front of Marcus, his guitar was a little bit loud. // 9
Perfomance: The band's performance, as I said before, was outstanding. They brought a lot of energy to it and gave it their all. As the venue fit maybe 800 people maximum, it wasn't a very big venue, and so they probably were a little disappointed at the beginning (just because they had traveled thousands of miles from their native Germany only to be received by crowds not near the size they get in Europe). However, we the audience won them over with our love and devotion, and they became more and more enthusiastic as the show wore on. The crowd was the most devoted I have ever been part of at any concert. Here is the set list.
1. Sacred Worlds. What else to start the show with? The tour was called the Sacred Worlds and Songs Divine tour after all! Hearing the orchestral intro and then seeing the band storm the stage in time to begin the song was awesome.
2. Welcome to Dying. After they finished playing Sacred Worlds, everyone started chanting Hansi! Hansi! I think it was then that they realized the devotion of the audience. Hansi responded with humor, saying something along the lines of and there's all these anonymous guys around me. Keeping up the humor, he then said (since it was Dec. 6th, apparently the day the new World of Warcraft expansion came out) today's World of Warcraft Day, so it will be fun to torture him and him (pointing to Marcus and Andre). That got a big laugh from the audience. Then, he said his usual introduction to the song Welcome to the show and Welcome to Dying! and they started playing.
3. Born in a Mourning Hall. As Hansi said, one of their darker songs.
4. Nightfall. A Blind Guardian classic anthem, this was expected, but it was still thrilling to hear them play it live. Everybody was singing along with the whole thing.
5. Fly. One of their newer ones, maybe not quite equal to masterpieces like Nightfall, but still a really good song.
6. Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill). The first Blind Guardian song I ever heard, and still one of my all time favorites, so it was very special to hear them play it.
7. Lost in the Twilight Hall. A classic off Tales from the Twilight World, another awesome song.
8. Time What Is Time. Wasn't really expecting to hear this one, a nice surprise that they included it in the set. Yet another great song, but in all honesty what Blind Guardian song isn't?
9. Lord of the Rings. Being a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's famed book series of the same name, this is another one of my favorite Blind Guardian songs, not just because of the lyrics but also the melodies and mood, so needless to say it was amazing.
10. A Voice in the Dark. Nearly verging on thrash, it is one of the best songs on the new album, and I was very glad that they played it. Mosh pit really got raging during this one, and there were a ton of crowd surfers.
11. And Then There Was Silence. Before the show I never got too into this one, I guess because it just went on and on. Now, however, it is quite possibly my favorite Blind Guardian song of all. For those who know the song, the part at 10:15 where Hansi sings na na na na na na na na na na, the nightmare shall be over now there's nothing more to fear was made into a crowd sing-along, which they kept going for several minutes. A great way to conclude their main set.
The band then left the stage for a few seconds, but they were far from finished. The Encore was:
12. Wheel of Time. The middle-eastern-sounding intro of the song began while the band was still offstage, and they returned one by one, all in time for Hansi to belt out now there is no end Probably my friend's favorite Blind Guardian song, so he was really glad to hear it. Come to think of it, so was I.
13. The Bard's Song (In the Forest). A timeless Blind Guardian classic, and a fan favorite. Hansi probably could have not sung on this one at all, because the whole crowd was singing all the words.
14. Majesty. The band did not originally intend to play this one, but the crowd all started chanting Majesty! Majesty! Eventually Hansi said something like the more we play, the more we have to pay our crew, so you're assuming we're not cheap, right?It was in humor, but the chanting did not subside, so he looked over at Andre and Marcus, and they just sort of nodded at him, and then they played the song, which is a rippin' speed metal classic from their first album.
15. Valhalla. After Majesty Hansi said, from now on its business as usual this one's called VALHALLA! A Blind Guardian classic, another one that is over 20 years old, and nearly thrash metal. Everyone loved it, as was expected. There was another crowd sing-along, this time Valhalla, deliverance, why have you ever forgotten me?
16. Mirror Mirror. One of the most well-known Blind Guardian songs and the perfect way to end a truly amazing concert. // 10
Overall Impression: The show was on December 6, 2010 in Seattle. Unfortunately for me, Seattle is six hours away from where I live. But Blind Guardian is one of those bands that I would do anything to see, as would my friend, who I went to the show with. We got to the venue (the Showbox at the Market) and waited outside for the doors to open for over three hours with four other crazy fanatics in the cold, dreary Seattle weather. The show would not have been what it was, however, without two stunning opening acts. The first, Seven Kingdoms, was a female-fronted power metal band from Florida, and they put on a good energetic performance to begin the show. They were especially good considering this was their first National tour, and although I had never heard them before, I am now a big fan. After them, the direct support was Holy Grail. I had seen Holy Grail three times previously, and I have been following them from their first tour. Holy Grail incorporates elements of classic metal, thrash, power metal, and a hint of melo-death into their metal, and this made them the heaviest of the three bands. Their performance was great, playing mostly new songs from their electrifying debut Crisis in Utopia (released in fall 2010). After the show I talked to members of both opening bands, which was awesome. The tickets to the show cost $22 + $8 for convenience charges, and it was some of the best money I ever spent. The show brought in all types of people, from nerdy WoW players to tough death metal guys, and all were friends, all shared the glory, all became Bards. Blind Guardian gave everybody an unforgettable performance, and I will do whatever I can to see them again. // 10