Monday, December 30, 2002 @ 4:44 PM
Blind Guardian & Symphony X Li
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REVIEW BY: Chris Slack
I arrived at the venue about 30 minutes before the show was scheduled to begin expecting to just waltz right in like I do at most metal shows. Bad move on my part, as there was a line stretching down the road and around the corner from the venue’s entrance. It moved briskly, thoug,h so I was able to get inside and fill up on water before making my way to the front for optimal photo ops.
While talking with one of the security team members, I found that the bands had driven all the way from Minnesota to do this show and Blind Guardian's bus had broken down on I-90 about 150 miles east of the venue. An elderly restaurateur took sympathy to the bands plight and towed their bus/gear to the venue so they could make the show. On the topic of the crowd the place was packed, due in part to Blind Guardian's huge soundboard taking up a good chunk of the back of the main floor along with many more people than I expected to show. The audience was very polite and well mannered, I had no problem working my way up against the stage as soon as the first band went on.
After eight years and eight albums, New Jersey based Symphony X finally decided to hit the road for their first ever USA tour in support of Blind Guardian. Many a fan wondered if they'd be able to live up to all the hype that had been received over the years from the European and Japanese prog/power metal community and be able to recreate their recorded material faithfully in a live setting. The skeptics have been quieted after their performances on this tour; they delivered the goods as only a seasoned group of professionals can.
My personal highlight of their set was the seemingly constant dueling that went on between keyboardist Michael Pinnella and guitar whiz Michael Romeo, it reminded me of Petrucci/Rudess (Dream Theater) interaction but with more soul and less technicality, very cool indeed. Russell Allen was a powerhouse on vocals and a very charismatic frontman. He was spot on for the whole show except for one time during "Wicked" where his voice seemingly broke at one point. I am of the firm belief, however, that this was a staged event designed to get some audience reaction and make Allen seem more human. Whatever it was, it certainly worked and the audience played right along with it. Their set was a kick ass debut for true metal fans in Seattle and I, for one, will definitely see them should they decide to tour their home country again. Photos of Symphony X from this show are available here.
Symphony X Setlist:
Sea of Lies
King of Terrors
Church of the Machine
Smoke and Mirrors
Of Sins and Shadows
Although Blind Guardian has been releasing albums since 1986 they've just began to get some decent recognition in the USA with the release of their latest album, A Night at the Opera. Up until the current tour, they had never set foot on US soil as a band and were relatively obscure among American headbangers. When the Seattle show was announced, there was great rejoicing as fans that had followed the band for a long time were finally going to be able to witness their live show without having to trek to Europe.
After a brief changeover period (and a lot of "Guardian, Guardian" chanting) Germany's legendary power metal quartet Blind Guardian hit the stage to one of the loudest crowd responses I've ever heard at the Graceland. Although Hansi didn't attempt hitting all the high notes he does in the studio (better to not try then to try and blow it) he did a very impressive job as frontman and had the crowd under his spell for the duration of the set. I was wondering how they would do all of the huge choruses live but my question was answered when a good 75 percent of the audience provided said vocals when ever they were called upon, and sometimes when they weren't.
The high point of the evening for me came when they played "Bard's Song." The clarity of the guitars was amazing and it seemed that for that one song the whole crowd united, with each other and the band into one mighty voice/instrument. The energy at that point blew me away! Throughout the show the band seemed almost surprised by the huge response they received from the crowd, they were all smiles all the time. This tour is almost completed but if you get the chance to catch Blind Guardian live do not hesitate, they are one band any true metal fan MUST see in their lifetime. Photos of Blind Guardian from this show are available here.
Blind Guardian set list:
War of Wrath/ Into the Storm
Welcome to Dying
The Script for My Requiem
Harvest of Sorrow
Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill)
from Bard's Song
Imaginations the Other Side
The Lord of the Rings