May 4, 2015 Blind Guardian outstanding at Stadthalle Offenbach, Germany 4-24-15 w/ Orphaned Land
After a long break, German Power Metal band Blind Guardian return in 2015 with their new album Beyond the Red Mirror. Marking their first studio album since 2010’s At the Edge of Time, fans have anxiously awaited new material from the legends of Metal, and in support of the album, Blind Guardian kicked off a European tour on April 10th. Scheduled to travel to nine countries between April and May, on Friday April 24th they came to Offenbach, Germany to play Stadthalle Offenbach. Originally scheduled to be at Batschkapp in Frankfurt, due to overwhelming ticket sales the show was moved to Stadhalle Offenbach to meet the crowd’s demands. Located outside the city of Frankfurt, the new location is one of the largest in the area with a maximum capacity of four-thousand people, and with Blind Guardian coming to town it was packed with thousands of Metal fans ready for a great night of music.
Setting the table for the evening was Israeli Progressive Folk Metal band Orphaned Land. Formed back in 1991, originally under the name Resurrection, their music combines influence from Jewish Arabic and other West Asian styles. Having sustained several lineup changes over the years, they have retained their two founding members in vocalist Kobi Farhi and bassist Uri Zelcha, and are joined by drummer Matan Shmuely and newest members guitarist/keyboardist Chen Balbus, along with guitarist/bouzoukist Idan Amsalem. Releasing their fifth studio album in 2013, All Is One, Orphaned Land is no stranger to the scene, and the German scene is no stranger to them.
Opening their set with the track “All Is One,” Farhi came out dressed in a robe and barefoot on stage. With highly instrumental songs that feature lyrics promoting a message of peace and unity, the band grabbed the audience’s attention right away. Personable and open, the band introduced themselves and what they are about, but also addressed the tension of war and disputes in their homeland. Moving on with their music, they played great tracks such as “The Simple Man,” “Brother,” and “Sapri,” among others. Oriental melodies combined with Metal riffs and amazing singing of Farhi, that was partially in English and Hebrew, had the audience not only cheer out loud, but also clap along to the songs, as well as even sing along. While many of their songs sound very religious, Farhi explained that he is neither Jesus nor Joseph, which made the crowd laugh because he sure looked like it.
As Orphaned Land finished their set with “Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark)” there was no doubt every note they played was coming from the heart. Telling stories and tales, telling of truth and wishes, inspired by hope and despair, their music was beautiful. Even if the fans did not understand the Hebrew lyrics, they could feel the message. After they complete their run of shows with Blind Guardian, Orphaned Land is returning to Israel for a show on May 28th before visiting other European countries through the summer. Do not miss this amazing musical experience.
After a quick changeover and some time for the fans to recover with a couple of beers, their heroes of Blind Guardian were ready to go. Come together over three decades ago, Blind Guardian’s sound has morphed through the years, from their early dates of Speed Metal styling on 1988 debut Battalions of Fear, to their 1998 Power Metal masterpiece, Nightfall in Middle Earth. With Hansi Kürsch on vocals and André Olbrich on lead guitar since their inception, guitarist Marcus Siepen has been a long standing member of the clan along with drummer/flutist/bagpiper Frederik Ehmke. Adjusting their direction a few times through their journey, Blind Guardian’s discography has been riddled with epic pieces of work that have made them one of the ultimate storytelling Metal bands in the world. Most of all, they have built a reputation as a live band to see, and now it was time for the band to treat their home country with an show they would not forget.
The curtain fell and Blind Guardian took over the venue with their grand sound on new song “The Ninth Wave,” before “Banish from Sanctuary” and “Nightfall.” It was at this point Kürsch told the crowd that this show would be recorded and if, only if, the audience is loud enough, some songs could end up on a live album that Blind Guardian is planning on releasing soon. Amping up the excitement, everyone went even more wild and shouted even louder as the band went into “Fly” and “Tanelorn (Into the Void).” The energy level was so high that sometimes the audience was even louder than Kürsch with his microphone. Going into newbie “Prophecies,” and closing out the first segment of the night with 1995’s “The Script for My Requiem,” Blind Guardian still have plenty more to offer.
Transitioning to an acoustic format, the open ceiling of Stadhalle Offenbach had the sounds of the instrumentals soaring through the air with wonderful texture. Playing songs like “Miracle Machine,” “Lord of the Rings,” “The Last Candle,” along with the beautiful “And the Story Ends,” this is a wonderful detour from the rest of the performance that provided balance. Going into an encore that revved the amplifiers back up once more with “Sacred Worlds,” the crowd roared in appreciation. Continuing to seamlessly mix in 2015 tracks like “Twilight of the Gods” with older “Vahalle,” Blind Guardian sounded strong, vital, and passionate. Kürsch’s singing was matched by his band’s impressive playing, mixing in guitar and drum solos of Olbrick and Ehmke whose improvisation was astounding to watch and had fans cheering for more. Continuing to celebrate the evening as if it was the last, the fans were shouting for more, and more they received with a second encore that began with “Wheel of Time.” Showing no let down, Blind Guardian’s energy matched the audience, following up with “The Bard’s Song – In the Forest” and the fantastically conclusion of “Mirror Mirror.”
Overall, it was an intense set that lasted for a little over two hours. Since Blind Guardian were right at home, their jokes in the native German language were not lost in translation and the band and spectators bonded instantly. Fans were receptive to all Kürsch had to say and it felt like a reunion. Everyone in the venue knew the words to each song they played, whether it was an old song or a brand new one. While most were soaked in sweat and tired, they were most of all happy. Blind Guardian is a band that will never forget where they have come from and how they got to where they are. They are a band that loves their fans and loves being close to them. While it is to be decided if some of the live recordings from Stadthalle Offenbach will be included on the Blind Guardian live album, chances are, judging by the decibel level inside the venue walls, it is probable they will be strongly considered.