The sense of occasion inside The Forum is immediately obvious as soon as you walk in. Early doors (6pm) on a Sunday with just one support band would not normally see the venue packed out within 45 minutes but somehow they’ve managed it here.
Orphaned Land are Blind Guardian’s support act & they arrive to the stage as if they are the headline act. The excitement during the opening double header of All Is One & The Simple Man is quickly replaced by bored looks as songs blend into each other. The Forum’s notorious iffy sound quality muddy the vocals at times which hardly helps. The bands story is one that you want to get behind but the songs just don’t hold enough weight.
A half an hour wait seems like a lifetime & as the lights dip & the intro to The Ninth Wave plays the excitement inside the packed venue reaches new heights. The noise as the band take to the stage is deafening, it’s amazing just how popular Blind Guardian are. The Ninth Wave sounds amazing & is received as if it is a long-time classic of the band.
Thankfully there are no sound issues for Blind Guardian. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band sound so much like they do on record…it is awe-inspiring.
Banish From Sanctuary follows before fan-favourite (as well as this reviewer), Nightfall is played. The crowd are louder than the band at times during this epic song & for it to be played already is testament to how many great songs the band actually has.
Fly & Tanelorn (Into The Void) are aired next with the latter sounding loud enough that anyone walking by outside must have wondered how many people were stuffed inside.
Blind Guardian like to weave a tale & frontman Hansi Kürsch is the man telling it. He excels in the role introducing each song & encouraging the audience to constantly interact. The rest of the band play their roles perfectly all while grinning from ear to ear. The bands energy & happiness is infectious spreading through the audience keeping everyone singing & cheering.
Prophecies, another new one, fits in well amongst the wide-range of songs before the band take us way back to 1990 & play The Last Candle. It sounds better than it has ever.
The band change things up briefly for the next 2 songs with stools & acoustic guitars brought out for the band. Everything is moved forward to give the impression of a more intimate performance. The lights are dimmed & Miracle Machine off the new album is played. It’s a beautiful song & even prompts a few lighters in the air!
The second of the more intimate songs is A Past And Future Secret & is enough to make an adult weep. It’s never sounded as important as it does right now & every single member of the crowd is in awe.
Things get back up to speed with the final 2 songs…an intense Lost In The Twilight Hall & huge Imaginations From The Other Side. The band thank the audience before shuffling off to rapturous applause.
Encores have become an expectation rather than a surprise & often crowds don’t really do anything to encourage the band back on stage. That is not the case here as the applause, cheers & feet stamping don’t stop until the sounds of battle play out across the speakers. Instantly recognisable as War of Wrath, the intro to the Nightfall in Middle-Earth album the band return to the stage as if the show is just starting! They go straight into the unexpected Into The Storm off that album & every exhausted member of the crowd finds new energy.
Twilight of the Gods…the final new song is a really heavy number that keeps the energy flowing before Valhalla just blows the roof off the place. He song ends but the crowd keep it going for easily another 2 minutes. The band’s faces are a picture & they genuinely seem blown away by the reaction.
Once again the band leave the stage & once again the audience lets them know they aren’t ready to leave. So once again the band return with Wheel of Time kicking things off. It’s not the best song played of the night & you can see the energy beginning to wain throughout the venue.
The stools & acoustic instruments are brought forward again for The Bards Song – In The Forest. Hansi barely has to do any singing here as the crowd do most of it for him. It’s incredibly well received by the band that stand & give them a round of applause.
The final song of the night, one that has lasted 2 hours so far is the incredibly popular Mirror, Mirror. A final burst of energy from the band & crowd alike ensures that the noise level never dips. It is a brilliant rendition & a great way to cap off an excellent show overall.
The band take a bow, grins wide on all…it’s been a hell of a night.
Blind Guardian @ The Forum, London (12/04/15)