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Live Review: Blind Guardian @ Metro Theatre, Sydney

12 February 2024 | 12:14 pm | Alasdair Belling

As the setlist unfolded, each song was greeted with genuine cheers for both new and old material, a testament to the enduring appeal of Blind Guardian's music. 

Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian (Source: Supplied)

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Jokes about The Silmarillion provoke gales of laughter. Anecdotes from novelist Brandon Sanderson’s high fantasy series The Stormlight Archive novels are met with roars of enthusiasm. No, it’s not Comic-Con; it’s a Blind Guardian gig in 2024.

For over three decades now, the German power metallers have combined riffs and myths to startlingly commercially successful effect, filling arenas across the northern hemisphere and becoming regular metal festival headliners the world over. 

Even now, in a heavy world that has firmly moved past the wails of Iron Maiden and their New Wave of British Heavy Metal band of merry men, Blind Guardian continue to command a rabid cult following, with the Metro Theatre rammed well before the brutal fairytale tellers took the stage.

First, Brisbane folk-metal outfit Valhalore had the definition of a free hit for their set. As far as supports go, a packed audience ready to roar along to anthems about Tolkien and Merlin is about as perfect as it gets when you’re busting out pagan/power metal tunes topped off with live tinny whistle. 

Admirably, Valhalore saw their chance and seized it with both hands, impressively winning over the room with their well-paced and perfectly delivered set. 

The night was electric with anticipation as the minutes ticked down before the legendary Blind Guardian took the stage. Last visiting Australia in 2015, the band now were armed with another two albums’ worth of material for their Aussie faithful.  

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As the lights dimmed and the backdrop of the sci-fi elf from the cover of the band's latest record, The God Machine, was illuminated, the band arrived and kicked straight into 1995’s classic Imaginations From The Other Side, commencing an unforgettable evening of epic melodies and mythical tales.

The symphonic power metal anthem soared through the venue, carried by thunderous drums and searing guitar solos. It was a fitting opener, setting the tone for the journey ahead.

As the setlist unfolded, each song was greeted with genuine cheers for both new and old material, a testament to the enduring appeal of Blind Guardian's music. 

The recent cut Blood Of The Elves was particularly noteworthy in this regard, with its thrashy opening heralding the first pit of the evening.

However, it was the classic Nightfall that really set the tone for the evening, the song's thunderous chorus taken up by the 1100-strong crowd, much to the delight of characteristically jolly frontman and ring leader Hansi Kürsch.

At 57 years young, Hansi was in impressively good vocal shape despite showing signs of a cold when speaking between tunes. Classic cuts Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill) and Lost In The Twilight Hall sounded especially powerful, while sleeper track Born In The Mourning Hall was a surprise highlight.  

However, as has become the case with every Blind Guardian set, The Bard's Song stole the show.

As the band stripped down to acoustic guitars, Hansi took a backseat and let the crowd sing power metal’s most well-known campfire anthem. 

Rarely has any song from any genre become such a fan favourite to the point that the frontman doesn’t need to bother with the microphone. That this was a metal band, and the song in question was an acoustic ballad, only added to the sense of joining in something special. It’s been said a million times over, but once again, The Bards Song proved to be the highlight of the evening.

However good The Bard’s Song is, though, it’s in riffs that Blind Guardian trades most effectively, with classic staples Majesty and Lost In The Twilight Hall reminding the gathered throng of the band's edge.

When it comes to power metal, “the bigger, the better” is the first rule of law - a law that Blind Guardian helped establish.

In this spirit, the band delivered not one but five encore songs. 

Sacred Worlds and Into The Storm were received enthusiastically, while Valhalla and Mirror Mirror brought things to a climax.

However, as the sextet took to leave the stage, the crowd was having none of it. 

The customary chant of “one more song” continued as the metallers attempted final bows before a brief conversation between the musicians, which resulted in the surprise addition of Welcome To Dying to close proceedings.

Power metal has been something of an underdog in the heavy metal world, and yet, in a scene dominated by metallic hardcore and masked pop-metal TikTok sensations, its good old speed-metal tunes about warring elves can draw the most rabid heavy fans to shows.

Should this continue remains to be seen - Blind Guardian isn’t getting any younger, as proven by the shock of grey hair sported by guitarist Marcus Siepen - but the sheer energy they inspire in their base will see them remembered as some of the greats the more traditional metal ilk in generations to come. 

On that note - make hay while the sun shines!

Let's not wait nine years between drinks next time, alright, lads?