Live at The Music Box
in Hollywood, CA
December 9th, 2010
Review by Travis Baumann
This was my first opportunity to cover the legendary German progressive metal masters, Blind Guardian. I have been a fan of theirs for quite a few years now and they were solely responsible for the rekindling of my love of classic metal styles and they were also responsible for me jumping into the Power Metal world.
Normally a quartet for studio work, they enlist two additional members for live bass and keyboard duties. The six took the stage to the audience chanting "Guardian, Guardian, Guardian".
The keyboards swelled into the opening of "Sacred Worlds" which is the epitome of what Blind Guardian stand for and the song I was hoping they would start the set with. It is a massive building song of epic proportions that, as many in the audience can attest to, borders on a religious experience to behold.
The vocals and lyrics of Hansi Kürsch are one of the aspects that people immediately latch onto. His love of fantasy literature has inspired his reinterpreting some of the most legendary stories into musical form and he has fittingly been dubbed the metal minstrel and modern day bard.
A second denominator of their fanatically loved sound is the brilliant musicianship of both André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen on guitars. Their style is unique in that they take the classic metal techniques, and as Hansi does with his vocals, add a medieval minstrel's mentality to songs and structure, building a sonic experience that sounds as at home in a gigantic stadium as it would surrounding a campfire in the woods.
Their keyboard orchestrations play a large part in building up the atmosphere and elevating the symphonic quality of their music. Hansi also plays bass for the studio sessions but in a live situation has his hands free and is unhindered by instruments so he can travel around the stage and emphasize the story telling aspects with his movements and gestures.
Frederik Ehmke rounds out the band roster on drums. He has been with the band for the last half of a decade and played on the two most recent albums. I could not find any information on who their two additional tour mates were, but they did a good job with both their instruments, and also with back up vocals on a number of songs.
I figured there were a large number of people that love Blind Guardian as much as I do but I was still really surprised and impressed with their fervor. Anytime a song came to an end, the crowd started chanting "Guardian" repeatedly as if it was the lull between the main set and encore and they were trying to get the band to re-emerge. Hansi and crew had to take pause and smile at each other at moments like this because they were impressed with the fan appreciation.
This was absolutely the best show for audience sing alongs I have ever seen. Without any prompting from Hansi, the crowd would sing every word to every song which brought a smile to his face repeatedly.
The new album, "At The Edge Of Time" is a master piece and I was excited to hear the new material but I love all of their previous releases too, so I knew no matter what they played I would be happy.
Having started off with such a great song from that new album, it was already an amazing show. Hansi gave a welcome introduction and then they went into "Welcome To Dying" for their second song. They continued to play songs off some of their earlier releases with "Born in a Mourning Hall" followed by "Nightfall".
Hansi introduced the next song as being inspired by the film "Finding Neverland" which was the fantastic "Fly" off of their second to last album "A Twist In The Myth".
They followed this up with "Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)" and as the song drew to a close another resounding chant of "Guardian, Guardian, Guardian" came from the audience.
Hansi just looked to his fellow band mates and they all smiled at the devotion. He had to hold up his hands to get the crowd to stop and stated, "It's times like this we wish that "This Will Never End" leading directly into the song which bares that title.
"Bright Eyes" was up next and this lead into the tranquil "Lord of the Rings" which Hansi spoke about for a moment before hand, and the crowd went wild at the mention of "Mordor". This song had another tremendous sing along.
Hansi introduced the next song by speaking about the character that he said inspires a lot of his lyrics, Elric of Melnibone who is the focus of one of my favorite series of novels. "Tanelorn (Into The Void)" is off their new album and it was really awesome live, I loved singing along with it.
They finished up the set with "And Then There Was Silence". Hansi said he had to pretend that they were leaving now but there would of course be an encore.
The chanting was even louder this time as the crowd called the band back to the stage. The unique percussion of the intro that played as they returned, gave away that "Wheel of Time" was up next.
They finished up the night with three more favorites, "The Bard's Song - In The Forest", "Valhalla" - which Hansi introduced by asking the audience if they were ready to "Kill some gods, and I seriously mean kill them", he said with a smile, and finally "Mirror Mirror".
The band all stood together with their arms locked and took a united bow as the fans screamed and chanted for more. Unfortunately their time was up as it was midnight so the house lights came on and they left the stage.
It was an amazing show which spanned two hours but seemed to fly by in minutes and left everyone wanting more. I would have loved a couple more off of the new album or any album for that matter but I was ecstatic with the experience and left smiling and singing "Sacred Worlds" as I left the venue. I can still hear the chanting now....
"Guardian, Guardian, Guardian"
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