Blind Guardian went on tour earlier this year but I was unable to go due to a scheduling conflict. When they not only announced a second U.S. tour with Grave Digger, but they would also be playing their widely renowned 1995 album Imaginations from the Other Side, I knew I could not pass up this opportunity. I cleared my schedule for September 15th and planned my route to Webster Hall. When the day of the concert finally arrived, I boarded the first train into New York, preparing myself for what was to come. The follow is a recap of my experience at the show and with each band. Hold onto your Viking helmets because this is going to be one hell of a ride.
Even as the gear guys were setting up for Grave Digger’s set, there was already an energy slowly forming around me. An anticipation was building in the steadily growing crowd, the kind of anticipation shared by die-hard fans. That anticipation exploded into full blown, soul shredding chaos once Grave Digger took the stage and began belting out “Headbanging Man.” Sanity had given way to a sea of people all moving as one to the raging music. Things got especially insane towards the middle of the set when they played one of their most popular songs “Season of the Witch.” The air was full of body shaking guitar and people chanting in unison to the lyrics. One of the bigger highlights of the set was when their keyboardist, Marcus Kniep, in the guise of the grim reaper, took up bag pipes for their song “Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching).” Over all the set was a great start to the night. With plenty of personality from lead singer Chris Boltendahl. This personality contributed to many antics with guitarist Axel Ritt. As excellent as Grave Digger’s set was, it was only the beginning of the night and there was still a set most-mighty to come.
I do not believe that there was anything I could have done to prepare for the enormity of Blind Guardian’s set. I had committed much time the day before to thinking about what I would experience. Everything I had come up with had fallen short of what actually happened. From the beginning of “The Ninth Wave” all the way through “Mirror Mirror,” there were people singing along to every song. I can also firmly say that I have never seen people attempting to mosh to the sound of acoustic guitars, mostly to the song “Past and Future Secret,” but that is exactly what happened. The harmonized vocals between Hansi Kürsch, André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen were a constant and very welcome element throughout the night. If I had to assign a feeling to the whole experience, it would be if Thor himself gave you a tour around Asgard. The only drawback to the evening was that there were technical difficulties before they took the stage which resulted in a song, “Silence,” being removed from the set. All and all, it was worth it to see some of my favorite songs being played live like “Mirror Mirror,” “Welcome to Dying” and “Mordred’s Song.” It was totally worth it alone to sing along to “The Bard’s Song.”