Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blind Guardian / Grave Digger @ Baltimore Soundstage 10/27/2015

I went to see German power and true metal legends Blind Guardian w/ Grave Digger ($30) at the Baltimore Soundstage. Blind Guardian's last US tour had been years before (I'd never seen them) and Grave Digger hadn't been to the US on a full tour at all. I saw Bobbie and Armon, Dan and Bonnie, Dan, Daniel G, Ti, Dorothy, Marie,and Renee there.


Predictably, the show was pretty packed (but perhaps not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be). This was also the first stop of the North American tour! I recall chatting with some friends about where the hell ARE these people for other heavy shows! I know some people traveled far and that Blind Guardian has a bit more draw than say, Primal Fear, but still- you'd think there would be a bit more crossover audience that would show up for live shows?

Ballad of the merchman
Season of the merch

Blind Guardian had a bit of merch, but nothing really amazing, unfortunately. Could have used more dragon shirts. Grave Digger has some surprisingly uninspired shirts. I can't believe there wasn't something more metal there. Overall for such a solid lineup there the force was not strong with the merchandise this evening.

Digging Graves
Follow the Reaper

Grave Digger was on first, and were pretty solid. They sounded pretty close to the album, Frontman Chris Boltendahl's gravelly distinct vocals were unmistakable, but to my dismay, the setlist was a bit lacking. There was also a keyboardist in a robe and reaper mask in addition to the admittedly aging 4 piece. I will say that once they started playing, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between them and a band 20 years younger! The crowd was pretty receptive and there were fists pumping and a little crowd participation ("...Hangman"). Not a bad showing, but certainly could have been enhanced with more songs from their self-titled (IMO).

Guys please pick a better setlist

It was nice to see Grave Digger, but I was pretty disappointed in their song choices. I was still grateful to see them even if I thought they picked some... not that exciting songs.

Blind Guardian finally came on to a massive ovation. People are way into these Teutonic metal masters, and they constantly top many power metal fan's favourite bands list. Personally, I'm more of a casual Blind Guardian fan, so I thought some people were a bit overrating them. I still couldn't wait to see them live, finally.

Annoying parts of the show included tall nerds standing in front of me, seemingly everywhere I moved, and a couple extended sing alongs that went on too long. Instead of their European sing along, I think most people would have enjoyed...another song. They went along that long. That being said, I will concede that hearing 90% of Soundstage sing along with Valhalla and (that other song) was pretty sweet... for the first 30 seconds. The next 3 minutes was not really needed.

Musically, they sounded pretty great, especially with Soundstage's very good sound system. Hansi was a little drowned out at times, but for the majority of the set he was pretty well mixed. There was so much positive energy there from the excitement of all these nerds getting to hear Blind Guardian live that I felt a bit strange that I didn't enjoy the show as much as I thought I should. Personally, I enjoyed them, but did not think it was anywhere near "show of the year."

Hansi and co powered through a pretty solid two hour set, so I certainly felt like I got my money's worth! They peppered in more than a few new ones from their most recent release Beyond the Red Mirror, which I thought sounded better than they did on the album. We also got a mix of classics and even a couple deeper cuts (!). My favourite tracks were "Lord of the Rings" and "Majesty." Of course we get the standard "Bard's Song" and"Mirror Mirror" which were not my favourite songs, but still great to finally hear live. "Lord of the Rings" sounded so amazing live (see snippet), that song is for me what that "Bard's Song" is to others. Note that "Twilight of the Gods" is not a Helloween cover.

Overall, it was great to see two rare power /true metal bands here in the US, and on the opening date of the tour too! They said that they were taping this for a live album, as well.

Next show: KATAKLYSM

Grave Digger (7:57-8:44)

  • Headbanging Man
  • The Round Table (Forever)
  • Witch Hunter
  • Ballad of a Hangman
  • Season of the Witch
  • Excalibur
  • Tattooed Rider
  • Highland Farewell
  • Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)
  • Heavy Metal Breakdown

Blind Guardian (9:11- 11:12)

  • The Ninth Wave
  • Banish from Sanctuary
  • Nightfall
  • Fly
  • Tanelorn (Into the Void)
  • Prophecies
  • The Last Candle
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill)
  • Majesty
  • Imaginations from the Other Side

  • Sacred Worlds
  • Twilight of the Gods
  • Valhalla

  • Intermission(War of Wrath) (tape)
  • Into the Storm
  • The Bard's Song - In the Forest
  • Mirror Mirror