September 27, 2016
Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Andy Laudano
Photos by Andy Laudano
Blind Guardian - Blind Guardian, Grave Digger
German Metal Pounds The Monkey!
It was a night of German power metal as two of the genre's pioneers, Blind Guardian and Grave Digger returned to Dallas at the Gas Monkey Bar & Grill. You couldn't ask for a better double bill than this as both bands complemented each other perfectly. Fans were literally hanging from the rafters of this packed. intimate, outdoor venue. "Welcome to our first ever U.S. Open Air show," joked vocalist Chris Boltendahl as he greeted the crowd. This was only the band's second time in Dallas in their 30 year history (the first was just last November!) and the fans were more than ready for their return.
Boltendahl is a master at motivating a crowd, teasing and making fun of them if they're not loud enough, then complimenting when they exceed expectations. Following favorites "Headbanging Man" and "Wedding Day," he had everyone singing along with "Ballad of A Hangman." The next song, "Tattooed Rider" from their latest album, Return of The Reaper, was dedicated to their late friend, Lemmy Kilmister. The set kicked into high gear with classics "Excalibur" and "Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)." Keyboardist Marcus Kniep, who spent the set dressed as the Grim Reaper from the band's album covers took center stage playing the bagpipes on the latter number. Together with bandmates guitarist Axel Ritt, bassist Jens Becker and drummer Stefan Arnold, Grave Digger brought the house down with their traditional closer, "Heavy Metal Breakdown." As the band took it's final bows, Boltendahl expressed interest in returning to the U.S. as a headliner to the crowd's delight.Blind Guardian have been through Dallas a few times in the past but this tour was extra special as they would be performing their classic Imaginations From The Other Side album in it's entirety. This is one of Blind Guardian's signature albums, featuring some of their best material, however some of the songs on it had never been played live before... until now.
The show started with "The Ninth Wave" from their most recent album, Beyond The Red Mirror. Huge sing along fan favorites, "Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)" and "Nightfall" followed, sandwiched by another great new song, "Holy Grail." Now that everyone's singing voices were warmed up it was time for the album to begin with the title track, "Imaginations From The Other Side." Frontman Hanzi Kursch was in great voice, weather belting out a faster number like "I'm Alive" or singing the much softer "A Past and Future Secret." Seriously, I could list every song on this album as a highlight, but personal favorite "Bright Eyes" seemed to get the loudest response. As our journey came to a close with "And The Story Ends" it was obvious to all that we had witnessed something truly magical.
Now it was encore time and as a special treat for Dallas, fan favorite "Into The Storm" made it's triumphant return to the set list for the first time in quite a while, followed by "Majesty." Next it was time for guitarists Andre Olbrich and Marcus Siepen to once again break out the stools and acoustic guitars as it was time to sing "The Bard's Song (In The Forest)." Another classic, "Mirror Mirror" closed out the show to end what was easily one of the best metal shows of the year.