Power metal titans Blind Guardian performed Imaginations From The Other Side in its entirety at The Crofoot, along with Grave Digger to kick the night off.
20-Sep-2016: The first thing that must be said was how amazing the crowd was. Power metal encourages comradery among the fans; you can make friends with anyone next to which you are standing. The energy was electric from the first step inside the venue; it was evident a fantastic night lay ahead.
With the venue dark, the crowd cheered as the looming sounds of church peeled forth. Keyboardist Marcus Kniep, clad in the signature black robe, skull mask, and top hat, slowly walked out to the stage. As the crowd grew louder, Chris Boltendahl (vocals), Stefan Arnold (drums), Jens Becker (bass), and Axel Ritt (guitar) took their places; Grave Digger had arrived.
They greeted the crowd and jumped right into “Round Table Forever.” Their music was adrenaline pumping; the crowd was headbanging and singing along t every song. They played classics from earlier albums as well as new material, all while provoking the crowd to be even louder. The band had a fantastic energy, putting the mic out into the crowd, joking with each other, and drawing in their fans. To begin “Excalibur,” Boltendahl yelled the first part of the title and fans answered him with the last syllable, almost creating a war cry.
Snarling vocals and blistering guitar solos echoed within the venue in songs like “Season of the Witch,” “Wedding Day,” and “Ballad of a Hangman.” “Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)” offered a highlight of their set; following Ritt’s dizzying guitar solo, Kniep emerged from behind the keyboard for a bagpipes solo playing through his mask!
By the time they hit their closing song, “Heavy Metal Breakdown,” the crowd was almost louder than the band with their cheers. A sea of metal horns saluted Grave Digger as the musicians took a bow.
Grave Digger showed the Pontiac crowd that 35 years had done nothing to diminish their heavy metal spirit. They are going strong and continue to pull in fans for their shows. The band plans to release a 35th-anniversary album, Exhumation – The Early Years, on October 23. The album will contain re-recorded versions of the band’s classics over their impressive career. They have recently released the re-recording of “Stand up and Rock” on their website.
Blind Guardian hit the stage at as the ominous intro to “The Ninth Wave” filled the venue, barely loud enough to be heard over the din of the thunderous cheering. It was well-known that the band planned to perform their 1995 album Imaginations From The Other Side in its entirety. Blind Guardian, however, opened with the first track off their 2015 album, Beyond the Red Mirror, surprising the crowd with bonus material. Hansi Kursch joked to the crowd about not being able to go for more than a year without playing Pontiac, rewarded the crowd with fan-favorites “Time What is Time,” “Welcome To Dying,” and “Nightfall.”
As Blind Guardian shifted to Imaginations From The Other Side, the room went dark followed by the opening notes of the album title track; only Kursch’s silhouette was visible. The lights flashed back alive as the band launched into the track and the crowd went into a frenzy. Blind Guardian played the entire album in order, making it sound better than the studio recording. Kursch
shared singing duties with the crowd, who knew every word and sometimes competing to drown out the band.
Andre Olbrich and Marcus Siepen were stunning on guitar, swapping lead parts seamlessly. Frederik Ehmke was thunderous on drums. Tying things together with a solid performance were Michael Schuren on keyboards and Barend Courbois on bass. Kursch’s vocals were mesmerizing, he effortlessly takes command the crowd, leading them in chants and looming over the stage to get closer to them. Combined, these power metal giants put on a symphonic show that blew the crowd away.
As Blind Guardian continued, the crowd went head over heels hearing “Bright Eyes,” “Mordred’s Song,” “The Script for My Requiem,” “I’m Alive,” and the rest of the album. By the time the band hit the final track, “And the Story Ends,” the entire venue was screaming for an encore. Blind Guardian didn’t falter, rushing back to play some of their most beloved songs, including “Into the Storm” and “The Curse Of Feanor.” The band finished with an outstanding doubleheader of the beautifully acoustic “The Bard’s Song” and the soaring hard-hitting “Mirror, Mirror.”
The show was flawless, both band and crowd giving the best. It was an incredible performance and one that will only be in the United States until the beginning of October, after which, Blind Guardian will be hitting the rest of the world. You can find their tour schedule on the band’s website.