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Leaves' Eyes, Blind Guardian Live Report & Photos

Photo of Blind Guardian

Band Photo: Blind Guardian (?)

It was a surprisingly warm but torrential first December day. This evening I made an extra effort to get to Worcester on time because Leaves' Eyes were opening. I've been an ardent admirer of Liv Kristine since, naturally, her Theatre Of Tragedy days and I'll always regret not seeing her with them. Several years ago, she and her former mates were accumulating hordes of devoted fans around Europe, but after Liv was gone the fairytale came to an abrupt stop and the band pretty much fell into oblivion. Luckily, Liv didn't let her talent go unused and formed a new band with all of Atrocity's members.

The show started at 9 as there were only two bands tonight. By that time the Palladium was full of beaming and mostly teenage fans. As usual, I was sceptical about the local reception, dreading Leaves' Eyes wouldn't get half of the recognition they deserve as they are not necessarily well known around here, at least for now. I'm glad to report that my fears were banished as the audience quickly warmed up to their sound and even though there were no sing-alongs, the front rows really got into it. But then again, who can resist the utterly charming Liv Kristine? Clad in a fetching red dress topped with a corset (think album cover attire), her serene and mesmerizing voice paired with Atrocity's heavy guitars brought about an emotional, almost intimate atmosphere. You could see she was sincerely into the lyrics, trying to convey the feeling through her theatrically expressive face and gestures.

The setlist started with (reviewer's favourite) Farewell Proud Men, followed by alternating tracks from the Into Your Light and Vinland Saga albums, namely Ocean's Way, Legend Land, Temptation, Norwegian Love Song and Solemn Sea. From time to time Liv was joined on stage by Atrocity vocalist/ husband Alex Krull. His dedicated headbanging and contrasting harsh vocals further intensified the uproar in the audience. The set closed off with Elegy and the band was sent off with deserved cheering. I was sad to see them leave the stage, for it's not often I get to see bands dear to my heart on this side of the Atlantic. But on the bright side, touring with their German mates gives them a deserved wide exposure and hopefully they're on the path of winning many US hearts.

Up next were the heroes of the night. If you've ever been to a Blind Guardian concert, or seen the DVD for that matter, you know you can count on them to pull off a good show. I'm generally familiar with their albums but I've never been a Power Metal type of gal. Still, I was genuinely excited to see what their performance and the atmosphere in the venue. Stage prep took less time than expected. There was a huge backdrop screen, and the projected graphics got more intricate and colourful as the show progressed. They opened up with Into The Storm and a few other songs from the Middle Earth album, and their latest single, Fly, followed after. I'm pretty sure that every single soul, even in the very back corners, was singing and applauding as emotions and inspiration surged. Halfway through the set they hammered into Valhalla, the absolute anthem of resounding crowd chanting. A tangible sign of the fans' commitment and exhaustion was the emerging musty smell of sweat in the middle of the set (not complaining, just observing). Speaking of the fans, I have to point out that crowd surfing that night came with a twist. There was a rather amusing tendency in the first rows of someone pulling the shoes off from the surfers' feet. One floating chubby kid was particularly entertaining to watch, holding on to his sneaker with one hand and punching the inciter with the other, all the while being pulled by the guards.

Back on stage, Hansi lead his men into an acoustic Skalds & Shadows. Although somewhat static on stage, Hansi was very enigmatic and powerfully precise with the vocal rendition. The flow of energy kept a steady high and the band never lost momentum throughout the set. And There Was Silence was the fake finale of the night. After rapturous applause and cheering, the Germans came back for an encore with, not surprisingly, Imaginations, Bard's Song and Mirror, Mirror. There was a sea of raised arms, though not many lighters (MA is a no-indoor-smoking state). As expected, the vocal parts of Bard's Song were handed off to the crowd, a touching moment and probably the pinnacle of the night because everyone was expecting it, even the Blind Guardian infidels like myself. There was an emotional farewell for both sides of the barricades as the band members linked arms and bowed several times.

Setlist:

Into The Storm
Born Into A Mourning Hall
Nightfall
Script For My Requiem
Fly
Bright Eyes
Valahalla
Time Stands Still
Punishment Divine
Skalds & Shadows
This Will Never End
And Then There Was Silence
Imaginations From The Other Side
Bard's Song
Mirror, Mirror

There are plenty of pictures in the Gallery section. Please note that for the Blind Guardian photos I share copyrights with Chris Lukhaup ( Leaves' Eyes bassist). He borrowed my camera and as a band member was allowed to shoot the entire set ( no flash though, no one was exempt from tonight's rule).

Leaves' Eyes photos are from Dec 2nd at the Trocadero in Philadelphia.

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