There are certain gigs I’ve wondered about reviewing since debuting on Metal Insider in 2022: Overkill (they’re bound to return to New York), a concert worth taking the night off work to provide coverage for, and a Blind Guardian show. The former two I’ve wished for YEARS to happen before finally realizing they will occur in time. Yet here we are about done with May ’24, and one of those whims has come true.

Blind Guardian returned to New York for a thunderous headline show of their first North American tour in eight years. About twenty-one thousand bright-eyed minstrels and seasoned bards like myself packed Palladium Times Square to sing along with one of the towering deities of German power metal. There have been shows I yearned to see, and living in New York all of my life, I’ve seen most of my favorite bands live. Traveling to the heart of Times Square on Sunday, May 12th, after a few days of equally important family time with Mia Madre during Mother’s Day weekend was sacred, though, because much like seeing Dying Fetus and Queensryche, this was another show I have been waiting a long while to witness becoming one of my top five spectacles of the year from Hansi, Andre, and the boys of Blind Guardian with direct support from the mighty Night Demon. I was counting down the days for this one while crashing through several months of work leading up to one of the best double bills I have ever seen in perfect metallic harmony.

Basking New York in a cimmerian shade of molten liquid metal to glimmer the twilight was Night Demon!!! I last saw them opening up for Cirith Ungol last August. Jarvis Leatherby did double duty on bass for both groups. Double the Jarvis, double the groove. Their retroactive sound got bodies moving and heads banging, playing slightly longer than they did the previous time I saw them. With all smiles, Night Demon brought the traditional metal thunder that defines their presentation of hell’s decibels, going to eleven and a third. Jarvis, Armand, and Brian performed with pride as a trio and cracked open Times Square for forty-five minutes, featuring some new songs like Escape from Beyond and a few deep cuts from their 2012 eponymous extended play. The Night Demon himself graced the audience during the Chalice, like when Eddie the Head did when Iron Maiden performed various songs during the Future Past tour. Their affinity for old-school bands like Judas Priest and Satan has stood against various trends in metal. The booking agent made for this tour made the right choice for Night Demon as one of the purveyors of the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal alongside Enforcer, Skull Fist, and Wolf for America to welcome Blind Guardian back across the states. Superb openers!

At around 9:10, the house lights slowly dimmed as blue LED lights cooled off the stage with a song akin to Hedwig’s Theme gleaming over the P.A. This lasted about a minute until the band that so many had traveled by planes, trains, and automobiles from parts of New Jersey, Philadelphia, and elsewhere across the country to embrace this occasion eight years in the making known as Blind Guardian. Before you knew it, André Olbrich, Marcus Siepen, and Frederik Ehmke, alongside touring bassist Johan Van Stratum, galloped along on the intro and then kicked into the riff of Imaginations from the Other Side, which led to Hansi Kürsch walking out onstage, roaring that opening line, where are these siiiilent faces? Neither the band nor the crowd stopped, and the song wasn’t even three minutes in!!!

The three main warlocks of André, Hansi, and Marcus have remained unchanged since Blind Guardian released Battalions of Fear thirty-five years ago. The trio played and looked like they hadn’t missed a beat, especially Hansi’s vocals aging like top-shelf Jägermeister, and it only leveled up his performance. Hansi could sing a dinner menu and make it sound enchanted. He’s able to craft great rapport with an audience throughout his bold song introductions and vocally is in the best shape he’s been in since I last saw Demons & Wizards play their first and only gig in New York at the then-known PlayStation Theater. Time is a flat circle, my friends. He hit every note with ease and nailed some challenging early days songs such as the ludicrous speed Into the Storm and the speedy thrasher of Majesty. The set-list was maximum neo-classical metal from their roots and songs off of the newest studio record, The God Machine, like Violent Shadows and Secrets of the American Gods that retained the same essence and gallop of the fan sing-alongs like the Simarillion-based Nightfall, including Lost in the Twilight Hall, my favorite deep cut, the powerful the Script for My Requiem, and speaking of special crowd participation moments – yeah, you know what song I’m talking about. The New York audience blessed Hansi by bellowing their voices in ironbound unison to vocally assist him during the Blind Guardian fan favorite, The Bard’s Song – In the Forest. That was just too awesome. Although a staple, Hansi guiding the audience was sheer prominence for sure. That was, by far, one of the finest moments of karaoke I ever saw at a concert. Too cool for how involved we all were. Only in New York. No joke. The crowd sang great during their three minutes of glory.

Some of the troubadours have waited nearly a decade to be at this show, and what everyone got was a little something extra. Blind Guardian played a fantastic set of eleven songs and four great encores that included the action-packed Valhalla, thus ending with the phenomenal Mirror, Mirror complete with an epic New York graduation photo. With hopefully a part two U.S. circuit happening sooner than way later, do yourselves a favor and see this hallowed band before visa costability halts some of our favorite Euro-metal acts from touring the states. Fingers crossed haaaarrrrd for Enforcer to support Blind Guardian during the next North American trek!

After the New York bards ignited Palladium Times Square, it wasn’t like exiting your standard metal show. You know those concerts where the beer drinkers go to pay off their hefty bar tabs or head to the merch area or rasp to each other – damn, that was fucking great! Everyone looked at their fellow concertgoers with gleeful looks of amazement. In a rare instance, I’ve seen the crowd dazed after a show. And not from singing. Simply because of the sheer sorcery that was Blind Guardian. Everything throughout the show was a holy fuck, holy fuck, holy fuck, holy FUCK! I cannot believe this is happening moment for me and many others in the best way possible, from the waiting period for the concert to the charged atmosphere at the venue to witnessing two stellar bands. I felt effervescent, almost like a new person. I know why I felt this way. I got to see one of my absolute favorite bands again since my little sixteen-year-old ears first heard Imaginations from the Other Side. Disregarding Dr. Emmett Brown’s theory of a time paradox, if 2005 Ian had told 2024 me that penning a perfect evening like this would ever happen, I would have told him to stop playing Guild Wars and get a girlfriend. But, hey. I’m glad it happened during our lifetime. Thank you, Zenae Zukowski! Gracias, Kristin Torres! Danke, Blind Guardian!