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ConcertsBlaze Bayley's Big Bash @ The Public, West Bromwich, UK 05/20/2012

Posted on Tuesday, May 22 2012 @ 00:31:11 CDT by Dean Pedley
Heavy Metal

On the back of rip-roaring new album The King of Metal Blaze Bayley held the celebratory Big Bash in his spiritual home of the Black Country, located in the very heart of the English Midlands. Reporting for Sea of Tranquillity on an evening of high quality heavy metal was staff writer Dean Pedley.

This was the show that almost never was, Blaze having tried to host a Big Bash (his semi-regular thank you to his loyal fans) for several months before finally managing to secure the right venue. The Public in West Bromwich remains something of a mystery to locals, a virtually empty building that cost 65m situated in one of the most deprived areas of the country, and yet is to be applauded for hosting the free entry event. Glasgow rockers Dirty Rose are a down and dirty power trio that evoke the blood, guts and thunder of the NWOBHM. They play with no shortage of energy and enthusiasm, winning round the crowd with well-judged covers by Metallica ("Metal Militia") and Sabbath ("Supernaut") that sit well alongside their own material. Pummelling rhythms combine with distorted riffs and frazzled vocals and they leave with the speed metal "Straight to Hell" to warm applause. Classically trained Belgian guitarist Thomas Zwijsen (aka Nylon Maiden) is a relatively new addition to Blaze's band and as a prelude to the main attraction he offers his acoustic take to a handful of Iron Maiden's classic anthems. "Run to the Hills" and "Wasted Years" are remarkable in their execution and Thomas, only in his early 20's, seems destined for the very top of his profession.

As Thomas finishes his set the rest of the band take their positions on stage that heralds the arrival of the man himself. Blaze Bayley has suffered more than his fair share of ill fortune over the years but simply never gives up in the face of adversity. With Wolfsbane having recently released a scorching new album and his own The King of Metal garnering strong reviews across the board Blaze looks well positioned to make the most of this latest opportunity. "Will to Win" sets the scene, a defiant rallying call to arms that shows he still retains the same swagger and vigour of old. The new material comes across extremely well; "The King of Metal" is not Blaze but the fans themselves and he is candid in offering his heartfelt thanks for their continued support in being the very lifeblood of his career. "Black Country" is another new song for the region that gave rise to Judas Priest and I may be mistaken but am sure that original Priest frontman Al Atkins (or his double) was in the audience. "Dimebag" is as direct a tribute as you will ever hear, recalling the horror of that fateful night in Columbus and the punchy "The Rainbow Fades to Black" is dedicated to the memory of Ronnie James Dio. The Maiden years are well covered including the dramatic "Lord of the Flies" and "The Clansman", arguably Steve Harris' most underrated epic. An encore of "Virus" and "Leap of Faith" delivers a final knock-out blow; with his voice in good shape and a commanding stage presence that demands every single person in the crowd has the best possible time Blaze Bayley remains a powerful and uplifting live experience.

Reviewed by Dean Pedley

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