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BLIND GUARDIAN, NIGHT DEMON In Worcester, MA With Photos!

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Saturday, May 18, 2024 @ 6:41 PM


The God Machine Tour Hits The Worcester Palladium May 11th

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All Photos By George Dionne

Time may indeed stand still at the Iron Hill, but for BLIND GUARDIAN's roughly 1 hour and 45 minute set at the Worcester Palladium on Saturday May 11th, time seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye.

While I have been a fan of BLIND GUARDIAN's music for years now, I'd never had the chance to see them in concert before the German power metallers made this stop on their 'The God Machine' North American tour. And I wasn't about to pass up the chance to see them this time around.

Fellow KNAC.COM writer/interviewer/photographer George Dionne and I arrived for the show and we were immediately struck by the sight of the line to enter the venue stretching so far down and around the building that people had to start lining up across the street (to avoid blocking traffic) and going halfway down that sidewalk as well. We've been to a number of shows at the Palladium and can't recall the line to get in stretching THAT far before.

That line repeated itself inside the building at BLIND GUARDIAN's merchandise stand as well. George had to set up for photos while I was still "stuck" in the line but hey, I got to spend some time talking to Erin from Boston, the rather damn good looking redheaded woman in line behind me, so you know that made the line well worth the wait.

But after our purchases were made, it was time to get down to the business at hand and get ready for SHOWTIME!

Since I hadn't really heard of NIGHT DEMON before they were announced as the opening act for this tour, I had to acquaint myself with at least the apparent set list beforehand. So there I was at work on Friday listening to those 10 songs. And I have to say that while I liked what I heard from the California metal band, I wasn't quite blown away. I'm going to chalk that up to it being the first time I'd heard the music and I clearly needed to spend more time digging into the band's three album catalog.

I know that when I tried to classify what I thought of NIGHT DEMON's sound ahead of time, it was one part NWOBHM and one part straightforward HEAVY METAL.

But when the trio of singer/bassist Jarvis Leatherby, guitarist Armand John Anthony and drummer Brian Wilson hit the stage in full force, I quickly found myself drawn into the music in a way that I didn't quite get when listening to the studio renditions.

Opening with the title track to their latest album Outsider, NIGHT DEMON was, no lie, kicking my ass from the first song to the last. The lights on stage seemed to be setting a desired aesthetic for their performance though at times it seemed a little too dark onstage.

But that didn't take away from the crackling energy of their performance. So focused on their set, the band eschewed any stage banter to the audience until just before the last song of the set. And that kind of worked for me, there was little to take me out of the performance so I could just be wrapped up in it.

After the song "Escape From Beyond", you got a brief drum solo from Brian Wilson that led into a killer version of "Dawn Rider". I loved the song "The Wrath" and got the IRON MAIDEN-ish vibe during "The Chalice" which included the appearance of the band's mascot Rocky.

During the show, I actually said to myself, "Damn, these guys are freaking great!", which makes me wonder why I didn't grasp that notion when I heard the studio tracks. But after NIGHT DEMON's explosively rocking performance, the first thing I'm going to do is grab up the albums and give them a good listen because the band's outstanding set has converted me into a fan!

Setlist:

  • "Prelude" (taped opening)
  • "Outsider"
  • "Screams in the Night"
  • "Escape From Beyond"
  • "Dawn Rider"
  • "The Howling Man"
  • "Beyond the Grave"
  • "The Wrath"
  • "Welcome to the Night"
  • "The Chalice"
  • "Night Demon"
For more on NIGHT DEMON check out: http://www.nightdemon.net.

CONCERT FUN FACT: Early in BLIND GUARDIAN's set, George spotted NIGHT DEMON's singer/bassist Jarvis Leatherby at the band's merch stand. We briefly chatted with him and took a selfie with him that I think has been retweeted on the KNAC.COM Twitter page.

After intermission, the lights started going down and the taped intro piece the band uses before they take the stage began to play. I found that it immediately got me drawn in and subsequently keyed up for the performance I was about to witness. And what a performance it was. Taking full command from the outset, BLIND GUARDIAN launched into one of their all-time classic tracks "Imaginations From The Other Side". I love that song so it was a great way for me to get amped up even further than I already was.

With singer Hansi Kursch working the crowd with the practiced ease of a grand maestro while simultaneously providing vocals that lived up to everything I've ever seen in video clips online, guitarists Andre Olbrich and Marcus Siepen kept providing the kind of six-string pyrotechnics that lit the crowd's fire. Crowd surfing was happening during the show and while it isn't something I would've wanted to do, I loved the enthusiasm the crowd was showing for the band.

The set list was pretty varied as nine of the band's twelve albums were represented, yet you still got a good portion of The God Machine album since that's what the tour is promoting. Four songs from the album made it into the night's performance.

Despite enjoying The God Machine album immensely, when the band first launched into "Blood of The Elves" I was kind of surprised that I forgot which song it was. Still, I was mightly impressed with just how much of a hammer the band dropped with this one. Drummer Frederik Ehmke was particularly immense here.

I've seen clips from the show on YouTube for eight of the songs the band played on the night and one of my favorites to relive is "Nightfall". Watching it in person and online, this was a superb rendition in my book. I was also pretty happy to see "The Script For My Requiem" get played as I love the song for both the title itself and the way Kursh's vocals come through in the performance.

I don't know if it was intended to be funny, but after a powerful version of "Violent Shadows", the band slowed things down with the acoustic track "Skalds And Shadows". Before they started playing, Hansi Kursh told the crowd the acoustic track they wanted to hear would be coming up later. I found myself chuckling at the line. I haven't heard "Skalds And Shadows" a lot over the years but I gained a new appreciation for it on this night. I love how the band can bring all the expected heavy metal thunder and then flip the script and give you such a beautifully sounding softer song.

But the high energy and hard-charging metallic attack ramped back up quickly with two more songs from The God Machine album. It was a relentlessly pounding performance of "Deliver Us From Evil" followed by what was the first single released prior to the album's release, "Secrets of The American Gods".

And then came the moment where I got to cross off a line from my own personal music bucket list. It wasn't just that I had wanted to see BLIND GUARDIAN live but I also wanted to be part of the crowd singing "The Bard's Song (In the Forest)". I've seen that great clip from 2016's Wacken Open Air concert where Hansi barely had to sing any of the lyrics because the huge crowd was singing it for him. And when Hansi announced from the Palladium stage that he was "going to take a break", you knew that it was time for the song.

The crowd at the Palladium may not have had 75,000 people in it like that festival video clip, but the house was indeed packed and the vast majority was right there singing along with the occasional guideline vocal from Hansi. It was incredible to be part of that moment at long last!

And when BLIND GUARDIAN followed that up by seeming to (but not really because I've seen a copy of the actual setlist for the show) accede to the audience requesting it, they burst forth into a grand performance of "Majesty"!

I mentioned how it seems the band is switching out songs every night and the main set closing number would seem to lend truth to that belief. Ending with "Traveler In Time" served as a great way to work in a song I hadn't expected to hear...especially because I can't rightly remember if I'd heard it before. But it was an inspired choice before the band briefly left the stage to get ready for the encore.

And man, did that encore not disappoint. Kicking things off with the epic "Sacred Worlds" song, I got to experience the song for the first time in any format (believe it or not, this is the BLIND GUARDIAN album I don't actually own). That didn't stop me from enjoying the song though.

One of the songs I had high hopes of hearing in the concert hadn't yet been played and with time running out, I was admittedly getting worried. But then Hansi announced "Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)" and I raised my arms in exaltation and screamed out my "approval". And man did that song sound great! It was so worth waiting for it to come so late in the set.

And things only got better after that when the band threw open the gates of "Valhalla". The opening drum salvo from Frederik Ehmke let the song hit you square in the face with that fistful of metal savagery we all love. For all his abilities on softer vocal delivery, this is where Hansi Kursch seems to just absolutely brings to bear a vocal performance that rips your throat out. Between the evil laugh he employs after one lyrical stanza and that still amazing scream he does towards the end of the song, this was just freaking incredible!

Then, however sadly, the night was at an end with BLIND GUARDIAN bidding adieu to the crowd with "Mirror Mirror". It ended the show on yet another high point and as the crowd spilled into the night I could hear someone saying "That was F'N awesome". Okay...that someone was me!

I had a really high sense of anticipation and expectation for this show and without the least little bit of doubt, I can say that BLIND GUARDIAN delivered what will go down as one of my all-time favorite concerts and a night I won't soon forget.

Setlist

  • "Imaginations from the Other Side"
  • "Blood of the Elves"
  • "Nightfall"
  • "The Script for My Requiem"
  • "Violent Shadows"
  • "Skalds and Shadows"
  • "Deliver Us From Evil"
  • "Secrets of the American Gods"
  • "The Bard's Song (In the Forest)"
  • "Majesty"
  • "Traveler in Time"
Encore
  • "Sacred Worlds"
  • "Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)"
  • "Valhalla"
  • "Mirror Mirror"
For more on BLIND GUARDIAN check out: http://www.blind-guardian.com

CONCERT FUN FACT: Before the show, I'd heard the merch guy telling another customer that if a city on the tour hit a certain ticket sales benchmark, they got a show-specific T-shirt made for that night. Worcester was one of them and I was lucky enough to get one of the 100 shirts made. Also, the shirts were relatively affordable at $40 with no upcharge for the larger sizes.

Check out some more photos from the show!
All Photos By George Dionne


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