Blind Guardian @ The Forum, London

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian
Spread the metal:

Blind Guardian + Gloryhammer

@ The Forum, London

22nd May 2016

Review by Oliver M.

Photography by Graham Hilling

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One year after their triumphant return in the UK, Blind Guardian came back to London on May 22nd to deliver one more fantastic show at the O2 Forum Kentish Town. The Bards did a short tour throughout Great Britain recently (four dates in total), which was a bit surprising since power metal has never been a popular style in this country.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

This special tour was made to promote once again their last great opus “Beyond the Red Mirror”, released by Nuclear Blast last year. It’s already their tenth album and has been a commercial success so far. Despite the absence of folk elements, it has also been praised by fans and critics, especially due to the brilliant symphonic arrangements.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

Last year, the band played in the same venue and I remember very well that their British fans were very excited about their return. Indeed, they had to wait five years to see their idols on stage since the 2010 Sacred Worlds and Songs Divine European tour, at that time.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

The concert was nearly sold out and the Germans gave an incredible live performance as expected. Moreover, there were a few special effects shown in the background of the stage, with a big flame burning from a mirror. It was an amazing show that would even deserve to appear on their next live DVD.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

This time, the Forum was packed but there were still a good number of vacant seats in the balcony. Since their last London gig occurred one year ago only, it seemed that the fans’ enthusiasm and expectations towards this show was lower than usual. Gloryhammer had the privilege to support Blind Guardian during this tour in the UK and Ireland.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

Personally, I would have preferred to see a more interesting band. For example, Middle Eastern metal masters Orphaned Land (the previous support act during the 2015 Beyond the Red Mirror European tour) offered an excellent set in this venue.

Gloryhammer (3.5/5)

It was the second time I saw Gloryhammer live and there were absolutely no surprises to be had. I had previously seen them November last year when they were supporting power metal legends Stratovarius at the O2 Academy Islington.

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

Hailing from the majestic lands of Scotland, tonight they offered a very good performance despite the grotesque side of their shows. Indeed, in addition to a stereotypical name, they look so ridiculous on stage and their promo photos, especially vocalist Thomas Winkler (even though I’m sure it’s intended).

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

Sometimes, being ridiculous can be funny but if musicians adopt such behaviour extensively, they will end up losing their credibility. Formed in 2010 by Christopher Bowes from well-known Pirate metallers Alestorm, this young band have two high quality albums so far to be honest(“Tales from the Kingdom of Fife” and “Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards”), both released through Napalm Records.

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

Except “Universe On Fire”, the compositions they play are full of epic symphonies and catchy melodies with the happy touch of Freedom Call.

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

The famous Italian power metal scene had also a strong impact on their music. The Rhapsody and Elvenking influences are easily recognizable in their songs’ structure.

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

It’s obvious that both Alestorm and Gloryhammer have used many elements from Elvenking’s masterpiece “The Winter Wake” for instance.

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

The Scots received great acclaim from the audience as expected. I don’t know their current reputation abroad but I personally feel that they’re completely overrated in their home country!

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

Anyway, if they could contribute to increase the genre’s popularity in the UK, it would be very appreciated!

GloryHammer
GloryHammer

Setlist:

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Blind Guardian (4.5/5)

As usual, Blind Guardian’s fantastic performance bewitched the London crowd. The Germans delivered a great set of eighteen epic tracks in total.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

The setlist was different compared to the one proposed last year, which is a good thing. They played only two songs from their last symphonic opus “Beyond the Red Mirror” (“The Ninth Wave”, “Prophecies”) and tonight preferred to focus on their old material.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

For example, we get the cult classics “The Bard’s Song (In the Forest)”, “Mirror Mirror”, “Valhalla”, “Majesty”, “Imaginations From The Other Side”, “Into The Storm” and “Nightfall”.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

I still don’t understand why they always offer “Fly” instead of any other song from “A Twist in the Myth”.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

It is clearly one of the album’s best jewels, even though I know it’s an excellent song. I would have loved to hear other amazing compositions but I’m aware the band has to make a choice in the end! The Bards have written and composed so many heavy/power metal hymns throughout their career that they can’t finally perform all their finest masterpieces.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

Despite being 49, Hansi Kürsch proved again that his vocals are still powerful and impressive.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

Wearing his nice black shirt as always, he’s also very charismatic on stage, with his charming German accent. They received huge applause from the audience, especially at the end of the unstoppable “Valhalla”. And this moment was outstanding! However, I was surprised to notice that the sound wasn’t powerful enough in my opinion, which wasn’t the case during their previous concert at that same venue.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

I also had the impression that Blind Guardian could have given a bit more energy and passion throughout this show.

Blind Guardian
Blind Guardian

Anyway, I will never get tired to see our favourite bards on stage and can’t wait to hear the next album!

Setlist:

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