Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Blaze: Tenth Dimension Tour

BLAZE @ DirecTV Music Hall, São Paulo, Brazil (April, 7th 2002)

Review By Thiago Martins


I remember back in 1996, when I got a chance to see my first Iron Maiden concert, and Blaze Bayley was the lead singer. I left frustrated. Blaze couldn’t sing the old tunes as great as Bruce, he had a shy stage performance, I said, “Man, this isn’t the man for Iron Maiden”, even though I liked The X Factor a lot.

6 years later, Blaze is not in Iron Maiden anymore; but he’s doing pretty well. His solo career is consolidated, with two amazing albums: SILICON MESSIAH and the recently released THE TENTH DIMENSION. With a completely different perspective, I went to the DirecTV Music Hall on a rainy and a bit cold Sunday night.

Unfortunately, the audience was disappointing, less than 1,000 headbangers left home to attend to this gig. Maybe the ruined image that Blaze got in Maiden separated these guys from a perfect heavy metal night.

The support act was made by a Brazilian band called Fates Prophecy. I’m not quite sure, but it was one of their first gigs with new singer Sérgio Faga, whose post was from the irreplaceable André Boragina (one of the nicest person I’ve ever got the chance to talk to, who died of cancer last year). Sergio did a great job, he still needs a bit of “road experience” to be a little less of a Bruce Dickinson clone and smoothes his voice a bit – it’s too high to sing in a traditional metal band like Fates Prophecy, that sometimes can sound more Iron Maiden than themselves nowadays.

The band mixed a bit of their songs from their first album Into the Mind with the new one, yet to be released, called Eyes of Truth – recorded with Boragina on vocals. The highlights of this 45-minute act were “Pay for Your Sins” and the Iron Maiden cover “Run to the Hills” (perfectly sung by Sergio).

Less than 30 minutes after the Brazilians left the stage, Blaze was there. Without any introduction song, just the hi-hat cymbals and “The Launch” started what I will call as his final redemption for the fans in Sao Paulo. His band is truly awesome, everyone is perfect at his instrument and has a great stage performance. I was astonished by them, the way they could play perfectly every song – even the Maiden ones. Hats off to guitarists John Slater and Steve Wray, who showed that it’s worthless to be a virtuoso if the riffs aren’t great; Jeff Singer and Rob Naylor showed that a band can be heavy as hell even without being fast all the time. And they were really happy for playing in São Paulo, it was clear in the expression in their faces and in the way they reacted to the crowd’s response.

After “The Launch”, they played Maiden’s “Futureal”. Well, I’m not a fan of Virtual XI and this song fails in comparison to Blaze’s own songs. But the crowd here was mostly made up of Iron Maiden fans and their reaction to this song was great. “Ghost in the Machine” came in the sequence, and this song really rocks! Not that those other songs didn’t, but this one I really dig.

Other songs played that night were “Evolution”, “Identity”, the Wolfsbane great track “Tough as Steel”, “Stare at the Sun”, “Silicon Messiah” and “The Brave” from his first album. Not many songs were played from the new album, since it was not released yet in Brazil (I was one of the crowd that didn’t know any song from it and left the gig with a great impression), so they just did “Leap of Faith”, “Kill and Destroy” and the title-track “The Tenth Dimension”, that ended the first part of the set.

The selection of songs from Iron Maiden disappointed me a bit. Aside “Futureal” being an ordinary song, “Como Estais Amigo” was really a surprise, but it isn’t a good song. Also, I don’t like “When Two Worlds Collide”, that was played too. I think there are better songs to choose from Virtual XI, but it would be better if he played his own solo songs instead of so many Maiden tunes.

One good surprise, though, was “Virus”, from Best of the Beast compilation. I must say that I hadn’t heard that song for a long time and also I didn’t care much for it. That night I changed my mind: it was great live – even with Blaze kneeling on the floor to read the lyrics of the first verses. Maybe Maiden could have played that song at their gig while Blaze was there. It would be better than a bunch of stuff Maiden was playing.

Of course, they did “Man on the Edge” as the first song for the encore. But the “lowlight” of the gig was Andre Matos special (?) appearance. It’s a song that is not his style of singing, he just made a small part of the lyrics (only that “A suitcase, a lunch and a man on the edge…” till the chorus, before and after the solo) that coincidentally he tried to put an extremely high scream (“just you look aroooooooooooooooooooooound”) that completely ruined the song.

To finish the set, they played the awesome “Born as a Stranger”, with a sing-along section included in the middle, which I think is usual in his solo gigs. The gig ended and the band was really happy about the crowds enthusiasm during the whole set. And they really deserved it.

Blaze was much more confident in his performance than with Iron Maiden (probably due to the smaller venue, not the stadiums he did with Maiden), also his songs suit him perfectly, while most of the Maiden ones didn’t. Anyway, he still has some weird actions on stage, like the way he teases the crowd, that is very funny and it’s already his trademark – he also did this one where he’s running along the stage like an airplane. Do I need to say that the crowd was really belting their lungs out? I left the venue completely voiceless! I can’t avoid mentioning his faces while relating to the crowd. He was feeling really comfortable on stage and that’s what counts. He and his band did a great gig and I can’t wait for another one.

Official Blaze Website - www.planetblaze.com




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