It may seem surprising to some that this is the first time that BLIND GUARDIAN have embarked on a UK tour. Other than appearances in London and at Bloodstock Festival, the legendary German outfit have never really conquered our shores. Until now. An awful lot of anticipation surrounded the show and judging from conversation in the packed audience at The Ritz in Manchester, this only confirmed that. It was now up to BLIND GUARDIAN to prove why they are considered one of the most respected bands in, not only power metal, but heavy metal as a whole.
Opening proceedings was GLORYHAMMER, the brain child of Christopher Bowes (ALESTORM). Taking the stage donned in armour, the band’s tongue-in-cheek space epic translated reasonably well in the live environment. The band’s seven song setlist comprised of a nice balance of the band’s two studio records, enabling the band to present fans a varying package of tracks. The band’s tongue-in-cheek approach to power metal gave a fun environment for those in attendance; Paul Temping‘s (Ser Proletius) riffs kept the heads bobbing along in rhythm and Thomas Winkler (Angus McFife) gave vocal deliveries that held up fairly well in comparison to their studio efforts. In one could look past just how silly the notion of this band is, then GLORYHAMMER set the stage perfectly for the main act. It’s silly, utterly harmless and easy listening power metal.
From the moment BLIND GUARDIAN took the stage, there was a feeling that those in attendance were in for something special. The epic introduction set the stage perfectly for the band who roared into life through opener The Ninth Wave and from this moment the band were at the top of their game. BLIND GUARDIAN have been in the game for over three decades now and their professionalism and experience showed through their performance; consistently acting as a unit which allowed each member to shine in their respective duties.
The guitar play from lead guitarist Andre Olbrich was nothing but dazzling, providing licks and intricate solo play at every opportunity, the drumming of Frederik Ehmke was consistently solid and frontman Hansi Kürsch did a formidable job at commanding the stage through his powerful vocals, despite his sound levels dropping in comparison. With the band touring album number ten, it was satisfying that the band opted for a fine tuned balance of tracks across their lengthy career rather than focus purely on new material. This only bolstered BLIND GUARDIAN‘s already impressive live presence; Lord Of The Rings was executed delicately and to great effort, Valhalla enabled a spine-tingling vocal rendition from the packed crowd and Sacred World‘s galloping riffs was delivered ferociously.
Two encores throughout the performance proved testament to what an occasion this was. BLIND GUARDIAN are considered to be hugely pivotal in the development of power metal and their performance only reflected that. Tight, delicate and professionally executed, the band proved their worth in a performance that can only be described as a masterclass. Not even a few technical hiccups and occasional sound issues could take away from the fact that BLIND GUARDIAN, 30 years after their inception, are still top of their game.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from photographer Christopher Ryan