12 April 2015
Review by Demitri Levantis
Photos by Graham Hilling
Heavy metal is deemed by lots of people to be the most epic music of all time – and Power Metal is usually referred to colloquially as ‘Epic Metal.’ But epic certainly didn’t come close to describing the extravagance that was Blind Guardian as they rained their bombardment of lyrical adventure upon the city of London on 12 April.
Opening for the Bards were Israeli Folk Metal outfit Orphaned Land – who have the most eclectic range of influences I’ve seen in a band from the Middle East.
Their long and melodic tracks covered topics of peace and order which the group said was their way of ending the insurrection and violence constantly plaguing their homeland.
Frontman Kobi Farhi told the audience that music is a better way of ending a conflict than simply upping the armaments as Israel and Palestine tend to do.
Orphaned Land certainly impressed me with how the guitars mimicked classical Middle Eastern music I’ve only heard in films and video games about the crusades, so there was plenty to talk about when listening to the band’s call for unity between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Peace and ending conflict are topics I usually look for in metal, being a staunch pacifist, therefore Orphaned Land left one very good impression.
The crowd were certainly pleased and applauded handsomely when the group mentioned their recent win of a Global Metal Award, which they shared with a Palestinian band.
An excellent opener with a very intriguing taste which has put me onto discovering more Middle Eastern metal.
And then the proverbial portal opened forth and out came Blind Guardian to give us their first UK show in four years.
The adventure began with the group celebrating their latest album: ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’ and opened with its first track ‘The Ninth Wave.’
An excellent performance from frontman Hansi Kursch and the tightness of the rest of the band was truly incredible. I felt like I was listening to one of my Blind Guardian CDs, and being able to sound exactly the same live as you do on disc is the sign of a band who really know what they’re doing.
Blind Guardian then galloped on across their discography with classics such as ‘Nightfall’ and ‘Banish From Sanctuary.’ We were then told by Hansi that the gig was going to be recorded for a live album which I know made the crowd more and more insane, knowing they will be able to relive such an epic night.
Then came my highlight of the evening. Hansi mentioned the works of my all time favourite fantasist: Michael Moorcock, and his greatest creation: Elric of Melniboné.
I think I was the only one who cheered at the mention of his name, for Moorcock has fallen into obscurity in the world of fantasy, but I think the band brought the whimsical empowerment of his tales to life with ‘Tanelorn’, chronicling the Eternal Champion’s quest for the mythical city.
Songs about Moorcock got me into Blind Guardian in the first place and I now know I’ll love them forever.
The group then returned to their recent release and then put aside their regular instruments for an acoustic set.
A band who can showcase a wide range of musical talents and sound as breathtaking when playing acoustic guitars and an amateur drum kit really made it clear this is a band for everyone.If you like slower and more melodic metal that isn’t too heavy then Blind Guardian is there for the lighter kids as much as the heavies.
Eventually the band returned to their heavy sound and played a final set list featuring songs from their most famous album: ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’. This gig began epic and it finished epic, but Blind Guardian made epic an understatement for their performance.
Please come back to the UK soon bards. Wonderful exhibition of musical excellence.
1. The Ninth Wave
2. Banish From Sanctuary
7. Last Candle
8. Miracle Machine
9. A Past and Future Secret
10. Bright Eyes (Heavy)
12. Imaginations from the Other Side
13. Into the Storm
14. Twilight of the Gods
16. Wheel of Time
17. Bard’s Song
18. Mirror Mirror