Blind Guardian Captures New York
Band Photo: Blind Guardian (?)
On Thursday November 30th I went to see Blind Guardian at B.B.Kings in New York City, NY. Four years ago, I had seen Blind Guardian at the Birch Hill, a venue that used to be in Old Bridge, NJ. I expected to be further amazed by them this time, especially with the quality sound set up B.B.Kings has to offer. By the time I arrived, I saw a line of metal heads across the block anxiously waiting to get in. This is something I don’t see too often at B.B.Kings for a metal show. The show had obviously sold out the 1000+ capacity venue, yet I saw people hoping to still get tickets. One person drove from Buffalo, NY to see them and he didn’t even have a ticket.
After, I managed to find a spot with my friends in the far left corner of the venue, the opening band, Leaves’ Eyes, took the stage.
Leaves’ eyes were decent. Their songs were very goth oriented, which didn’t really mesh well for an opening spot next to Blind Guardian. The crowd’s response wasn’t too strong either, even though there were definitely a few fans there and people drooling over the female lead singer. Musically they were really tight and gave a great performance. The male vocalist’s growls created a good contrast with the female singer’s angelic voice. The drummer and bassist were pretty good, which kept the music moving forward. The guitarists, on the other hand, felt like two mirrored rhythm players, good ones at that, but the need for two guitarists wasn’t as evident as the need for two vocalists. In a few songs the two guitarists did some really interesting melodies. For example, there would be a catchy lick played a few times throughout the song that really caught my interest, but it wasn’t a technique that was repeated in other songs. If the band did more of this it would help them out a lot, since most of the other songs were very much alike as far as the guitars go (chordal rhythm sections with possibly one solo in a song). The sections weren’t very complex but rather were very straight ahead, which was very effective, since it allowed the vocals to be the forefront of the band. This is good, but that doesn’t mean the guitarist should be held back.
Blind Guardian took the stage with their intro track “War of Wrath,” from their album “Nightfall in Middle-Earth”, then exploded into the next song, also from that CD, “Into The Storm”. Last time I saw them they did the same thing, but this time it was so much more powerful. They had set up blue and red lights, which worked well with the music. If that wasn’t enough, the crowd was going crazy and the lead singer, Hansi, was singing with the audience, making the audience feel as if they were part of the band. The crowd took the place of the choir parts in their albums. The crowd’s singing became unified with the band and that natural chemistry between a band and their fans at this intensity is rare for most bands I’ve seen. Half way into their set they played “Valhalla” and the crowd sang the chorus line at a break in the song for what felt like 5 minutes. The band seemed surprised and let the crowd continue.
I’ll be honest, I was disappointed by the new album, but the two new songs they played live were better than I expected. With the song “Fly,” their latest single, I found myself head banging and getting into it. I’ll definitely be giving the single promo I got from their label a few more listens. Though I don’t think it matches up to songs on “A Night at the Opera,” which is decent on CD and great live.
They played “And Then There Was Silence,” from the “A Night at the Opera” album; the whole 14 minutes of it. The song ended and the band went off stage before performing three encores, “Imaginations From the Other Side,” “The Bard's Song: In The Forest,” and “Mirror Mirror.” During “The Bard’s Song” they brought out an acoustic guitar and dimmed the stage lights for an even more intimate setting you’d expect to see at an acoustic show or coffee house. The whole crowd singing along and some holding up lighters deepened the intimacy of this experience. If Blind Guardian played an arena, like they play in Europe, this unity and intimacy with the band would have been lessened.
If you have never heard this band’s music or seen them live, I suggest you do so. It shows how live music is the real experience of a band rather than what we hear from recordings. I know so many bands that create tons of harmonies on their CD, but when it comes time to play the songs live, they lack 90% of those harmonies and melodies. Blind Guardian, with the help of their fans, reproduced all of the five part vocal harmonies of their music live. They also didn’t let singing get in the way of any of the player’s stage presence. The only thing I noticed that Blind Guardian lacked, was the amount of guitar harmonies that they have in their albums, but it wasn’t very noticeable and didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the music.
Blind Guardian’s music stands the test of time in their genre. This concert proves they can still deliver live and they are still one of the best progressive power metal bands out there.
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