Blind Guardian

Live at The Fonda Theatre

Hollywood, CA

October 6th, 2016

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Once again, the modern day minstrels grace our presence, bringing with them a special concert experience. Blind Guardian are the pinnacle of Power Metal and tonight they are presenting their 1995 breakthrough record, "Imaginations from the Other Side" in its entirety.

This album is one of their faster, more crazy albums and usually they only do a few tracks from it when they play, so this should be an interesting show.

Blind Guardian on stage consist of lead singer and narrator, Hansi Kürsch along with his fellow bards, André Olbrich on lead guitar, Marcus Siepen on rhythm guitar (both of which also sing backing vocals for the awesome choir effect), and Frederik Ehmke on drums.

They also have a couple of touring musicians joining them with Michael "Mi" Schüren playing live keyboards and backing vocals and Barend Courbois on bass and backing vocals.

They started off the set with a song from their latest album, "The Red Mirror" which I was really excited about as I love the new album and love to hear new material when they tour.

The played the epic opening track, "The Ninth Wave" which embodies everything awesome about Blind Guardian in one amazing track. It has building choirs, swelling orchestrations, brilliant dual guitar work that is both delicate and ferocious at the same time, driving energetic drums, and vivid story lines sung with an impeccable voice.

Before indulging the audience in the promised full album of the night, they gave us a few more fan favorites from various albums throughout their illustrious career. They played "Welcome to Dying" which is quite the opposite tonally from the empowering and uplifting opening track but is a great song in its own right.

They played one of my own personal favorites next, "Nightfall". Sharing the lead singer, Hansi's, love of J.R.R. Tolkien, I love the song inspired by his "The Silmarillion" tome and was happily singing along with the rest of the audience.

They finished out this prelude section with the fantastic "Fly" from the "A Twist In The Myth" album. The song is an inspirational telling of tales from the original "Finding Neverland" story.

At this point, Hansi addressed the crowd saying that tonight was a special show, celebrating twenty years since "Imaginations from the Other Side" was first released. They were going to do the album straight through and that although the album presented certain challenges, that they were up for them.

The challenges involved are that the songs all feature break-neck-speed guitar work closer akin to Thrash Metal in some ways than most of their other stuff. The drums are very aggressive even by Blind Guardian standards, and the vocals are a lot more forceful on many of the songs.

The title song was up first and it is a great track, setting the tone for the fantastical concept tale that was about to unfold. The mystery of what lays on the "other side" of life, the mirror, our own souls.

They went in album order with "I'm Alive" followed by "A Past and Future Secret" and the morbid yet beautiful, "The Script for My Requiem".

Hansi introduced the next song by saying it was about a person that was seen as very dark and evil but he didn't think so, it's called "Mordred's Song". With everyone singing along to the "murder the dawn" lyrics however, it is hard to entirely take Mordred's side on things.

Hansi said the next song is relevant to us all, because we are all "Born in a Mourning Hall". This song induced enormous sing alongs like most of their efforts do.

The introduction to the next song started by Hansi saying that this one is very important and why they are doing this tour at all. It is called "Bright Eyes" and is the direct prequel to their current album's story line.

Of course conflict of ideology always leads to "Another Holy War" and wraps up with "And the Story Ends", bringing the amazing album to a close.

Blind Guardian left the stage but the chants of "Guardian! Guardian!" from the audience rose immediately and continued to rise in volume until they returned to the stage.

Without further ado or introduction, they played "And Then There Was Silence" which ended in the a very long refrain of the audience singing the chorus repeatedly until the band was satisfied that they had done their part.

The last part of Blind Guardian's encores have become pretty predictable as the hard core Guardian fan base seem to always want the same songs. While I absolutley love them, I always want new songs so I was hoping for at least "Sacred Worlds" but when I talked to a lot of other fans, they had not even heard the last album and barely listened the previous one, which to me is just crazy.

Lucky for those stuck in the past, Blind Guardian appeases them and gave us "Valhalla", which everyone loves to sing along to followed by "The Bard's Song - In the Forest", one of their more mellow folk infused songs.

They finished out the night with what has become a regular set-closer, "Mirror Mirror". Taken from the previously mentioned Tolkien inspired, "Nightfall in Middle-Earth". It is a great song with an uplifting refrain, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, True hope lies beyond the coast".

It was a wonderfully lengthy performance; really two sets, one nested inside the other, and was a fitting visit from a legendary band like Blind Guardian.

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