Blind Guardian + Orphaned Land
@ The Forum
12th of April 2015
Review & videos by Oliver M.
Photography by Nikki Ryan
5 years. That’s the time Blind Guardian British fans had to wait to see their idols on stage again since the 2010 Sacred Worlds and Songs Divine European tour. Released in the same year, “At the Edge of Time” was a commercial success but perhaps didn’t reach the level of its predecessor “A Twist in the Myth”, which was a pure masterpiece. This time, the bards have highlighted the symphonic side on their new offering “Beyond the Red Mirror” by collaborating with three different orchestras and choirs (from Budapest, Prague and Boston). Concerning the folkloric elements, they have been completely removed. Some old fans may not appreciate this change of musical direction, but it is still a great Blind Guardian album that confirms their status of symphonic power metal masters.
To promote their new album released in January this year, Blind Guardian recently started the Beyond the Red Mirror European tour along with Orphaned Land as support band. Unfortunately, the UK only got one date in London. It wasn’t surprising for me as power metal has never been a popular style of music here compared to other European countries like Germany, Italy, France, Sweden and Finland.
However, I was astonished to see Orphaned Land (4/5) on the bill. I would have expected them to support a band like Moonspell for example (with whom they share many common points) but not a heavy power/speed metal act. Anyway, their live performance was excellent, and the audience was very far from being disappointed. Along with Moonspell (old period), they are the pioneers of Middle-Eastern Folk metal since the beginning of the nineties. They are also the first Israeli metal band to gain international recognition, even before black metallers Melechesh. I discovered them in France at the time they had just signed with Century Media in 2003. They are very well-known within the metal scene there since French label Holy Records launched their career in 1994. Their set only contained their recent classic songs which are brilliant.
It was a pity we couldn’t hear some of their old tracks which are closer to doom/death metal. But I fully understand their choice as they wouldn’t have convinced a crowd used to listening to heavy metal by playing their first recordings. Thanks to their experience and many inspired melodies, the Israelis succeeded in conquering the whole audience. Wearing a long black dress and walking barefoot, Kobi Farhi is a charismatic vocalist. The way he uses harsh vocals (on some rare occasions) and traditional Oriental chant is very efficient.
Of course, the charm and beauty of their Middle-Eastern folkloric parts make their art unique. The typical atmosphere of The Thousand and One Nights could be felt and tasted throughout their set to our great satisfaction. It was sad that one of the founding members Yossi Sassi (who has recently worked on Moonspell’s new masterpiece “Extinct”) couldn’t be part of this tour since he left the band last year. Because of its talent and creativity, his absence might have a negative impact on the band’s future material but I hope it won’t be the case.
1. All Is One
2. The Simple Man
4. The Kiss of Babylon (The Sins)
6. Birth of the Three (The Unification)
8. Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark) + Ornaments Of Gold
As for Blind Guardian (5/5), there is absolutely no need to present them. The Germans were simply amazing and unstoppable as always. They delivered an incredible set of eighteen epic tracks, containing some great songs from their new symphonic opus “Beyond the Red Mirror”. Obviously, they played many of their cult classics including the speedy (“Banish from Sanctuary”, “Valhalla”, “Mirror Mirror”, “Lost In The Twilight Hall”, “The Last Candle”), the mid-tempo (“Imaginations From The Other Side”, “Nightfall”, “Into The Storm”, “Bright Eyes”) and the folkloric ballads (“The Bard’s Song (In the Forest)”, “A Past and Future Secret”).
Sometimes, some fans are wondering why they didn’t perform this song or that one but here, let’s be clear: they have written and composed so many power metal hymns throughout their career that they can’t finally offer all their finest jewels. However, I don’t understand why they played “Fly” instead of any other song from “A Twist in the Myth” as it is clearly not part of the album’s best tracks for sure. Before the beginning of the concert, I was planning to interview Hansi Kürsch, but was informed that he cancelled all his interviews in order to preserve his voice. Of course, I was a little bit disappointed but he was entirely right in doing so. Despite being 48 years old, he proved that his vocals are still powerful and impressive.
We got the best from him and that was the most important. Regarding the other musicians, their live performance was also irreproachable. They even looked surprised by the fantastic reception they got from their enthusiastic fans, especially at the end of “Valhalla”. The crowd couldn’t stop singing the chorus and thus, obliged the bards to extend the length of this speed metal masterpiece. This moment was outstanding definitely!
Let’s hope the UK gets more dates from them for the next European tour. Their set was unforgettable for every Blind Guardian worshipers present at this London show.
1. The Ninth Wave
2. Banish from Sanctuary
5. Tanelorn (Into the Void)
7. The Last Candle
8. Miracle Machine
9. A Past and Future Secret
10. Bright Eyes
11. Lost in the Twilight Hall
12. Imaginations from the Other Side
War of Wrath (Intro)
13. Into the Storm
14. Twilight of the Gods
16. Wheel of Time
17. The Bard’s Song – In the Forest
18. Mirror Mirror
Sacred Worlds (orchestral outro)