In a dark and dreary corner of London there lies a music venue. One night, it was transformed from a music venue into a meeting hall - a meeting hall for bards. The bards gathered from far and wide - from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and beyond - to greet the heroes of their kind: Blind Guardian...
...First though, there was Steelwing. They had a short set, only playing five songs, and their music was pretty monotonous, although not bad by any means. Saying that, Riley - what a voice! Incredibly impressive and powerful vocals. He totally made the band worth seeing and his true skill and talent shone out. He is an underrated singer in modern heavy metal, but puts in an awful lot of effort regardless.
Perhaps a reason for Steelwing not sounding their best was that the guitars weren't loud enough. Honestly, it was like a big blur of noise with no intricate notes sounding. Another let down for the band was the fact that they hardly put on any sort of stage show. Sure, Riley was up there, clearly having a whale of a time, but the rest of the band just seemed somewhat rigid.
Despite a few sound issues and a lack of jumping around and going crazy, the band were alright, and they certainly made a good 'warm-up' band for the legendary gods of power from across the pond who were to grace the stage with their presence next...
Blind Guardian. A band whose name alone is thrilling to write. Their performance was far more thrilling though. They opened with Sacred Worlds, the fantastic first song from their most recent album, At The Edge Of Time. This sent the crowd stir-crazy and wild, and with good cause too! The band put an enormous amount of effort into the performance, their heart and soul. Sadly this produced a small crowd of eager moshers who made it more difficult to enjoy the performance for those around them...
Next they played more classic songs such as Welcome To Dying and Born In A Mourning Hall, each being well-received in their turn. Then, yes, quietly it crept in and changed us all...Nightfall. There was somewhat of a cheer from the crowd. Obviously. This was - sorry, is - one of their most splendid, magnificent and beautiful songs ever written. The next three songs were Fly, Time Stands Still and Traveller In Time. Admittedly, the songs just aren't the same without the fantastic orchestral backing, but never fear - the audience will provide the band with the choral backing! It was a bad 'choir', yes, but at least the enthusiasm was there... However, this leads to the fact that Hansi Kürsch really wasn't given a chance to shine; he was too busy being drowned out by the noise of the audience 'singing' along.
Next song was Valhalla - yes, the setlist was incredibly good - followed by a wonderful performance of Lord Of The Rings. That's the beauty of Blind Guardian. They are one of the few bands that can manage to pull off transitions from hard-hitting, fast music to slow, acoustic music well.
The band made their way once again to A Twist In The Myth for This Will Never End. They followed this with another song from their latest album, and the title track for the single of the album, A Voice In The Dark. This song had already, in the quarter of the year since it was released, become ingrained in the fans, and the majority of the audience knew it and loved it - the band's performance of the song most certainly lived up to expectations too! The main set was finished with a blindingly superb performance of Mirror Mirror, which was simply pure perfection.
Of course the band got an encore though - they're Blind Guardian. The encore was opened with Hansi and his cup of tea. Oh yes, and Punishment Divine. Obviously they played The Bard's Song - In The Forest - there probably would have been an uproar if they didn't. After that, they attempted to play their epic final song from At The Edge Of Time, Wheel Of Time, which, unsurprisingly, was somewhat less epic live. After their slightly-above-average performance of Wheel Of Time, however, was a brilliantly played Imaginations From The Other Side to wrap up the night, and what an ending.
Sure, it wasn't perfection. There were a lot of problems, such as the drums being too loud and the guitars being too quiet, and the crowd were inconsiderately rowdy, but nevertheless... Was it fun? Yes. Was it breathtaking? Yes. Was it worth the effort and the money and the travel? Without a shadow of a doubt. As the bards flooded the streets of the city to return to the many distant dwellings from whence they came, there was an awesome feeling of 'life is good' in the air - that belittled and discounted feeling that is generally produced at concerts.
Music truly is a most wonderful thing, and there are some bands out there which just get that statement and slap it across people's faces. So, dear bards and lovers of bards, never give up on music, never take it for granted and allow it to embrace your soul. Treasure every note, every lyric and every beautiful and complex aspect of its harmony, or its lack thereof. If there is any justice in the world, every lover of music will experience this sort of awe at some point in their lives.