On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of seeing BLIND GUARDIAN headline at Gas Monkey Live here in Dallas, TX and it reminded me of all of the things that I miss about the 1980’s concert experience: one solid opening act, no mismatched line-ups to sell tickets, and production values that are through the roof. It was definitely a night to remember, and Amps and Green Screens was there to drink it all in.
GRAVE DIGGER opened the show on their first U.S. tour ever, and they did not disappoint. The band had played only one U.S. show prior to this trip, but they made up for it in spades. They spent almost an hour running through an abbreviated version of their greatest hits, and the crowd ate it up – they could have played for two or three hours, and everyone would still have been clamoring for more. Hopefully the reception that they received will convince Chris Boltendahl and crew to come back and headline their own tour of North America in the near future – we waited 30 years for this, and it was far too long!
After a quick stage changeover (another benefit to a compact quality lineup!) the lights dimmed again. The stage was illuminated in blue lighting and fog, and the shadowy shapes of BLIND GUARDIAN took their places on stage before launching into “The Ninth Wave” from their most recent album, Beyond the Red Mirror. From there, the band spent another hour and a half ripping through an amazing set that covered all the bases of their storied careers. Classic songs like “And Then There Was Silence”, “The Last Candle”, “Nightfall” and “Banish from Sanctuary” were mixed in with newer standards, including “Fly”, “Cry For Tanelorn”, and “Prophecies”, and the crowd sang louder and louder on each one, especially after singer Hansi Kürsch mentioned that the band was recording for a future live CD release on this tour.
All good things must come to an end, however, and the set closed with two classics tracks: “Welcome To Dying” and “Imaginations From the Other Side”, and the band left the stage. Nobody was fooled – there was still a lot of music to be played! They came back out during the intro to “Sacred Worlds” and tore through that epic track like they’d just gotten their second wind, and followed it up with “Twilight of the Gods” from the new album, and closed with the crowd favorite “Valhalla”, before leaving the stage again.
No, we were not done yet – there were a few standards missing, so the Bards came out one more time and played “And The Story Ends”, before going acoustic for the must-play “The Bard’s Song – In the Forest”. They closed with “Mirror, Mirror”, and that was finally the end, two and a half hours after they started playing. This was THE concert event of the year for me, and I cannot wait to see them again.
It had been 5 years since BLIND GUARDIAN graced our shores for a tour, and hopefully it won’t be another five years. In fact, the following morning, they were confirmed as one of the headliners for the ProgPower USA festival in 2016 – even if that’s a one-off appearance, it still makes the trek to Atlanta all the more worth it, and Amps and Green Screens will be there to bring it to you!
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: FRANK ZABER/IMAGES FROM THE DARK