I think that when it comes to Metal shows and possible places to play that the numerous aspects of the genre and B.B. King Blues Club go hand in hand. After covering almost every show that was worth seeing for the Metal side, it made for a perfect closer to my own attendance here in 2006 as I found myself preparing to see the one and only Blind Guardian. The majesty of this band and their impact on Metal music made it a fitting end for this outlets coverage, as they are one of the truest and strongest holders of the banner in this genre. The band's absence from US touring for some years made this a must see performance and the event would sell out quickly and with ease – those who were not paying attention months in advance were surely to be left begging someone to get them in tonight. Supporting the tour would be another new favorite of mine, the band Leaves Eyes that hails primarily out of Germany. Here are some thoughts on the show and the vibe of the night.
Read on for Ken Pierce's full review of the show!
Blind Guardians return to the US would also offer the band Leaves Eyes the chance to return to our shores for the second time. Sadly, the first time around for this group had been a bit of a mess with their not really fitting in the context of the touring bands. Their sound was a bit lost on the odd mix of Death Metal groups. The New York show would be at the now closed CBGB's and it was poorly attended but those who made it down became instant fans. Tonight would be a different story with the group on a professionally organized tour effort and the ability to perform in front of a sold out crowd of about 1100. Leaves' Eyes is fronted by the beautiful Liv Krull, who was one the singer for Theatre Of Tragedy. After she left the group, she joined forces with her Husband Alexander and his band Atrocity. The two created material that was Gothic, and yet Atmospheric and of course deeply rooted in the roots of Folk Metal. The wonderful combination led to the stellar recording "Vinland Saga" and the new EP release of "Legend Land". The two pieces of music work together and tell tales of Viking warriors as they set off to uncharted lands. It's very "big" in sound, especially in the live sense and as compliment to Liv's siren-like and melodic voice we have Alex who delivers the guttural growls and snarls.
I was happy to find the room packed from the minute the group went on, and watched as more people than less seemed to know the material from "Vinland Saga". Sometimes people linger outside and wait for the headliner but this would not happen tonight. The other members of the group are Torsten Bauer (guitar), Mathias Roderer (guitar), Chris Lukhaup (bass), and Moritz Neuner (drums). The reception they received tonight should bring them back sooner rather than later and with the current absence of Nightwish we are seeing other amazing female-fronted Metal acts pick up the slack and running with the ball in a manner of speaking. To show their appreciation for the support tonight, the band would mix and mingle with the fans and both Liv and Alexander were seen at the merchandise table to sign the albums that were being sold tonight. All of the Leaves Eyes catalog can be purchased on Napalm Records, and are recommendations from this reporter.
I was glad to have another show with only the headliner and one opener performing as it was not long after the wonderful set from Leaves Eyes that we would soon enjoy Blind Guardian and no other superfluous bands that you hope to enjoy once you find out you have to wait for them to perform. Sadly, not all mass band shows are good. When the lights went down and signified Blind Guardian would hit the stage, the air around you just charged up. It happens a lot and I have felt this, but for Blind Guardian this was an entirely different and higher sense of this and rightly so. Over the course of many years of performing it has been this band that maintains one of the truest and purest forms in the Power Metal style. It's all about big guitars and big drums and of course the resounding lead and backing vocals that made every one of their anthems so memorable. Front man Hansi Kursch was very dramatic and while this group is accustomed to player Festivals that number in the tens of thousands, tonight he could look into the eyes of the fans in the front that were pushed against the barriers. He smiled and offered the photographers the chance to catch him at his best from very close quarters and he really seemed to be eating it up. The band would return here to support their newest release "A Twist In The Myth", and unlike the BG releases of the past this one would change the way they did things just a little. Yes it was still a Power Metal release, but the songs and themes would not be as epic in nature and not as overpowering. The slight change offered new people an easier way in to what they are all about as a band. Their set list would not focus mainly on the new release and this was a great surprise, for Blind Guardian has so many worthy Metal anthems that the audience just raises the fists and sings along with and sometimes even takes over for Hansi with his permission of course. The group made sure to include a lot of these songs, and with a set that was running close to the two hour mark you were not going to find too many gripes from the crowd. Some of my personal highlights of the set would have to be the songs "Valhalla" and "Time Stands Still" since these are among the most resounding of the numbers they have in their repertoire. There is something to be said about knowing the entire length of a song and singing it back to the person who created it, and you could see Hansi was enjoying every moment of this type of reaction. Musically this evening would be a contained hurricane with the lead guitar work of Andre Olbrich and solid rhythms of Marcus Siepen. New drummer Frederik Ehmke really showed his stuff and easily won over the crowd that still had some folks sad about the departure of Thomas Stauch. Bass was handled by their touring bassist Oliver Holzwarth and he pretty much just did his thing yet remained towards the back of the stage while the others tested its limits.
This was a great way to return to the States for Blind Guardian, and I was very happy to be a part of the audience and attending media so we could get some killer photos for you. It seems very certain that Blind Guardian will return again in the near future to continue their defense of that which is Metal. We can only hope.
Leaves Eyes Set List
Vinland Saga – intro
Farewell Proud Men
Into Your Light
Blind Guardian Set List:
Into The Storm
Time Stands Still
Lord Of The Rings
This Will Never End
Official Web site: www.blindguardian.com
Official Web site: www.leaveseyes.com