Blind Guardian brought their “Imaginations for North America” tour to New York’s Webster Hall last Thursday, which also happened to be my birthday. It’s not often I spend my birthday at a concert – the only other time was Nightwish in 2012 – but I decided to go for it because why not? I had already made plans to get away for the weekend to celebrate my 30th, and I wasn’t planning to do anything special on my actual birthday, so I decided to spend it with Blind Guardian and Grave Digger for what turned out to be a night full of surprises.
First, Grave Digger. I’ll admit to not knowing much about them other than they supported Blind Guardian last year as well, and hail from Germany just like Guardian, and also play power metal. Their 10-song setlist was enough to generate interest in them and I will definitely be checking them out in greater depth. They’re certainly an interesting act, having seen them live, and I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not knowing more about them or their music. That will definitely need to change before they come around again.
Blind Guardian ran into technical difficulties ahead of their scheduled start time, and ultimately had their set cut short,though that was due more to the disaster that is Webster Hall scheduling another show for 11pm to make as much money as possible in one night, and what a disappointment that was, because Blind Guardian lost at least one, probably two songs due to the early end and late start. The original plan was to open with 4 songs, play Imaginations from the Other Side in its entirety and then close with 3 songs. I think ultimately the set was cut short by one song, though Valhalla was noticeably absent from the set list, but I’ll get to that later.
Guardian’s first 4 songs to kick off their set were The Ninth Wave, Welcome To Dying, Nightfall and Prophecies. Nightfall is a great song, but the real reason everyone came out on this night was to hear Imaginations played start to finish. That, of course, is what would happen next. Personally, I really enjoy hearing a band play an entire album live – RUSH did it with Moving Pictures and it was incredible – so hearing one of Blind Guardian’s most popular albums start to finish was pretty special. Fans of the band know the album by heart, and most were singing along on this night through the entirety of the album.
As I mentioned earlier, Webster Hall’s greed ultimately led to the band having to nix at least one song from their set, and the encore would consist of The Bard’s Song – In The Forest and Mirror Mirror to close the night early; Silence was ultimately removed from the set, and, as noted above, there was no Valhalla…until there was. That’s because, as the show closed, every single fan in attendance began singing the chorus of Valhalla to the band as they bowed and departed, which was certainly the highlight of the night.
Blind Guardian absolutely killed it on this night, despite being hurried off the stage by the venue, and their fans very much appreciated the solid effort. I came away very impressed for my first time seeing Blind Guardian live, and they gave me a birthday to remember on a night I can’t possibly forget.