Blind Guardian’s ‘The Bard’s Song – In The Forest’ tells us that no matter what lives and dies in this world, the tales woven by songs will forever stand the test of time. Blind Guardian’s role in the metal scene is similar to that of the Bard: both weave memorable songs with incontrovertible narrative quality.
Though vocalist Hansi Kürsch’s lyrical style focuses strongly on this aforementioned quality rather than prose, the melodies are so catchy that most every fan in Blind Guardian’s audience can chant along. Their show at The Palladium was a testament to this.
Before Blind Guardian hit the stage, opener Holy Grail hit the audience hard with raw balls-to-the-wall heavy metal. Although musically distant from Blind Guardian, they certainly invigorated the audience for what came next. The excitement was palpable as the lights dimmed for the headlining act.
As many had expected, the show began with the spectacular ‘Sacred Worlds,’ the first track from Blind Guardian’s newest album At The Edge of Time. The orchestral opening to the song set the mood, preparing everyone for an epic, fantasy-filled night.
After the opener, Hansi yelled ‘Welcome To!’ and the audience immediately responded back: ‘Dying!’ as the band ventured back to their third studio album, Tales From the Twilight World. Moving forward, album by album, they continued their powerful performance before arriving at an undeniable fan favorite, ‘Nightfall,’ from arguably their most praised album, Nightfall In Middle-Earth. After exploring their earlier discography, the band returned to the present with a song from a more recent release, A Twist In The Myth.
A notable departure from their established sound, the song ‘Fly’ (a story about Peter Pan) changed the pace a bit, with more groove-oriented rhythms and hints of world percussion throughout. It was obvious the fans were a bit less familiar with this song, but the chorus acted as the perfect invitation to get the entire audience clapping.
The power then kicked back in with ‘A Voice In The Dark,’ the single off of At The Edge Of Time. André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen’s guitar work on this speedy number proved that they are still on top of their game. Marcus kept the rhythms solid while André pulled out two of his signature solos.
Although they never reach full-on shredding, André’s solos are immediately identifiable, focusing on melodic hooks over speed. His soloing reflects the sound of the whole band: a concentration on unique songwriting, as opposed to technicality and virtuosity. Such solos are nearly as memorable as the chorus of any song.
After the nine-minute epic ‘Wheel Of Time’ came to a close, it was time to calm down. As acoustic guitars were brought onstage, it became obvious that the next song was to be ‘The Bard’s Song – In The Forest,’ undeniably the band’s best-known ballad. As per tradition with Blind Guardian ballads, Hansi barely had to sing, as the fans knew almost every word. A highlight of any Blind Guardian concert, ‘The Bard’s Song’ was a truly heartwarming moment.
To end the show, Blind Guardian travelled back yet again to their first two albums. Announcing that the next song would be a tale of Norse Gods, they kicked into ‘Valhalla.’ The audience belted out: ‘Valhalla, deliverance, why’ve you ever forgotten me?’ until their throats were dry.
Once they finally died down, another section of the crowd began chanting: ‘Majesty! Majesty!’ beckoning the band to play the classic song from their debut album, Battalions Of Fear. After some reluctance, the band gave in and charged into this thrashy number, which showcased the impressive endurance of drummer Frederik Ehmke, the latest addition to the group.
Few bands in the power metal scene have fans as dedicated and loving as Blind Guardian’s. Above all, the band understands the importance of memorable songwriting, an element that far too many bands toss aside. Blind Guardian provides a setting where fans are given the opportunity join together for chorus after rousing chorus.
[Special thanks to Rae Amitay for editing this review]