Blind Guardian & Grave Digger
November 13, 2015
Review by JP Wood
Photos by Monika Deviat
There is an interesting trend emerging with promoters announcing show many months in advance, even well over a year in some cases. I think it they want to maximize time for ticket buyers. So, it was with much anticipation I waited about eight months since it was announced that Grave Digger and Blind Guardian were coming to Calgary. After all that time, Friday the 13th finally arrived, a Friday night Power Metal fest, it could not be better.
Arriving early I was very pleased to learn the show had been moved from the 900 capacity Ballroom to downstairs into the 2500 capacity room. A good omen! I had seen Blind Guardian on four previous occasions but I had never had the pleasure of seeing Grave Digger. I have been a fan for 30 years since I bought their debut cassette back in about 1985 and have since bought all of their catalogue. This was by far my most anticipated show of 2015.
With Germanic precision the band started right on time and took charge for about an hour. The place was very full as the gathered faithful realized this was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the legendary Power Metal band in North America. It was their first time in Western Canada ever.
With Germanic precision the band started right on time and took charge for about an hour. Every classic Metal move was present with Grave Digger. They played a superb mix of new and old, songs from their latest RETURN OF THE REAPER and several classics from the 90’s. Alex ‘Ironfinger’ Ritt headbanged up a storm striking metallic poses while Chris prowled the stage with confidence on one who has been fighting for Metal for three decades. The band did a big sing-along for likely their most famous song ‘ Rebellion’ from TUNES OF WAR and finished with a rousing extended version of ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’. It was a dream come true to see these Heavy Metal Heroes.
After a relatively short break it was time for Blind Guardian. It had been about five years since they had played the same venue and it seemed to be a little more full. The band hit the stage and ripped through a couple of songs old and new before catching a breather. Hansi announced that they were recording the show for a live album and that they would be playing an extended set of almost two and half hours!
I’ve seen the band a number of times; you never forget the first time you see an iconic band. I also had the pleasure of seeing them in a unique setting on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise but I feel this was the best set. The band is not as energetic as some bands but they music certainly was as song after song after song came pouring form the crystal clear speakers. They played many of the old favourites like ‘Valhalla’ , ‘The Last Candle’, ‘Tanelorn’ and ‘Majesty’ and a generous amount of tunes from the newer era. I think the only album that got no song representation was NIGHT AT THE OPERA. Of course they played ‘The Bard’s Song’ with the obligatory, extended sing-along session.
Overall it was a superb night enjoying great music with many friends, a few drinks and two of my favourite bands. It doesn’t get any better than this making this very likely my best concert of 2015.