Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters, Bolingbrook (US)

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BLAZE BAYLEY / JUDAS BEAST / COLD BEARDED KILLERS

Date: 26th August, 2017
Venue: Tailgaters Sports & Grill Bar
Ticket: $18 (in advance) - $20 (day of)
Promoter: n/a


Watching Blaze Bayley live had been a long-overdue thing to do, so the moment he announced the US tour, the Bolingbrook date was fixed on our calendar. Since repetition is the mother of all learning, I will go ahead and say that Blaze is an underrated singer and musician and there are many metalheads out there who have spoken bad about him, just because he was called up to fill the spot on their most beloved band. However, this is ancient history (although you will always find negative comments about this and that from mainly keyboard-warriors who have a sole purpose of badmouthing people while sitting alone in front of their PC screen). Anyways, Blaze has gone past this and, in fact, he has built a strong attitude and philosophy about life and what is most important for the Metal fans is that he and his band have been on fire in the studio. Yeah, the project “Infinite Entanglement” with the three parts scheduled to be released in three consecutive years showcases Blaze in his best music-writing state. So, all this means that missing this live show was completely out of the question. Be on the look-out though because before the show, METAL KAOZ conducted an interview with Blaze, so there are some really exciting news coming your way...

Tailgaters looked busy during the changeover from COLD BEARDED KILLERS to JUDAS BEAST with the majority of people seating at tables which some of them were positioned dead-close to the stage and I believe those were the venue’s VIP spots. On one hand, seeing tables at a Metal show can be a turn off, but on the other, such settings seem to keep people stay longer, so as the show goes on, the attendance pretty much stays the same. Still, there was a bunch of people on their feet waiting to see the IRON MAIDEN / JUDAS PRIEST tribute band warming things even more after COLD BEARDED KILLERS. JUDAS BEAST have really grown since the last time I’ve seen them live with lots of stage props like fog machines, their own light show and even a customized Eddie figure (from the "Somewhere In Time" era) who showed up onstage. Apparently, this was one of the band’s last two shows since singer Dane McCartney is moving to Florida, so JUDAS BEAST will decrease their concert presence. Despite the JUDAS part, the setlist was heavily based on MAIDEN featured all the classics, and everyone did enjoy singing along “Moonchild”, “Flight Of Icarus” and those crowd pleasers like “Fear Of The Dark” and “The Number Of The Beast. Without pausing and after “The Trooper”, Dane changed a bit his look and JUDAS BEAST entered the PRIEST section with “Hellbent For Leather” and “The Ripper”. Even though I am not a die-hard fan of tribute bands (especially if the tribute is on an active band), I had a good time and almost half an hour later, I was ready for Blaze.

To my surprise, the rows in front of the stage remained occupied during the changeover, proving that the work Blaze has done is already bearing fruits and it would not be an over-statement saying that he has cracked the US shell. Well, I am not talking about doing arena tours or something remotely close, but having a dedicated fanbase and doing frequent US tour is a huge achievement, especially when considering nowadays’ dire economics.

Around 10:30pm, everything was ready and soon enough the ¾ of ABSOLVA showed up onstage wearing huge smiles on their faces. Blaze has been working with these most talented musicians for quite a while now, and you can feel how close this team has gotten with the way they behave on and off stage, sharing the same focus (making great music and doing awesome shows) and the same ‘it is all about the fans’ attitude. Blaze joined them onstage, and with their back turned around the drum-kit, started the show with some sort of a slowly building the tension intro. “I am Blaze Bayley and I am here to destroy...” said Blaze in his most serious way and then he flipped the switch... If you have ever seen this fine Brit onstage, then you know that warming-up is a term totally unknown to him, so seconds later, he was standing as close as he could get to the stage with his fist pumping in the air inviting everyone to join the show. The awesome “Endure And Survive” (how fitting this title is to his career) was the first song of the set and I was once again surprised that there were people around me who knew the lyrics and were already singing along. Yeah, this made the entire experience even better, even though having Blaze in front of you pointing at everyone and looking straight to your eyes is impossible to resist and not join the party. On top of this, guitarist Chris Appleton and bassist Karl Schramm immediately matched Blaze’s massive energy and connected with the audience on the spot, like it was the easiest thing to do. Damn, this lineup looks and feels granite solid, and mark my words till you see them in action. My album favorite “Escape Velocity” skyrocketed my enthusiasm hearing live those wailing and powerful vocals at a spitting distance. Despite the two-guitar song structure, Chris managed to pull everything off with the clever use of his pedals, and really, the sound did not lack of something. However, additional credit is in order for Karl and his Steve Harris finger-bass playing for holding the fort during the solos. As you may imagine, the first climax happened with “Futureal” and then I affirmed that indeed BLAZE BAYLEY have built a following here in the States, something that is absolutely deserved.

“This is our pleasure and honor to be here for the first time” Blaze said in his unique and no-bullshitting way, expressing his gratitude to those who have been supporting him. Then, it was a two-song mix between the old and the new; the headbanger “Blood” and the seventeen years old “Silicon Messiah” followed and made me think that his guy has been writing great music from the start, but for some bizarre reason did not receive the recognition deserved. Until now and I will quote his words to prove my point; “I am independent, I am not in a record label; I am the record label and I am living my dream. The reason I kept gong is you who wrote me letters and gave me the courage and strength to fight back”. Yeah, Blaze has gotten the rights for his entire backcatalogue and indeed has gotten out of the dark place he was around the “Blood And Belief” album. And yeah, that was the best way to introduce “Fight Back”.

There are many underrated IRON MAIDEN songs from the Bayley era (especially from “X Factor”) and one of them is “Virus” which was released as a single. This is a fantastic song with powerful riffs and just-have-to-chant-along melodies. If the fast part starting off with the “When every good thing's laid to waste” lyric line does not make your clock tick, then there is something not working with your Metal-listening ears... and man, the riff that kicks in after the rhythmic break sends shivers down my spine each and every frickin’ time; “Or do you? Or do you?”...

The respect this singer has for his fans was put in words during the introduction of “Calling You Home” where Blaze talked about how he and his band came all the way from the UK to tour the US and how he can call every one of us home. Sure, this can be perceived as a cheesy way to introduce the namesake song, but if you add the sincerity in Blaze’s words and attitude, then this becomes a powerful statement straight from the heart.

The biggest difference from the last time I saw the band BLAZE BAYLEY onstage, was how this lineup had fun onstage and how everyone was smiling all the time. I mean, the way Blaze introduced “Manhunt” was hilarious starring off how WOLFSBANE ended up recording this song at the famous Sound City studios and how Dave Grohl forgot to mention this in the documentary “The Sound City Studios” and ending with the best way to make everyone look at their best. “It is not a 7-day abs, it is not a new diet but it is the only way to make you look better. When people see how great you look tomorrow and ask you what did you do, then you’ll just say; ‘I sung with Blaze Bayley last night'”. Yeah, seeing the entire band breaking a good laugh (even though he may have used these words in other shows) proves the great chemistry between the four gentlemen. Of course, we joined into Blaze’s boot-camp and sung our arses off the cheesy chorus: “Manhunt... Manhunt / manhunt, manhunt, manhunt” and then enjoyed the fight for the stage center spot between him, Chris and Karl. I have no idea how Chris kept soloing while being pushed around by Blaze... Eventually the two gentlemen won and Blaze left the stage frustrated... It was time for a break, so it was up to drummer Martin McNee to keep us entertained. And this is exactly what he did, hitting the drum-skins like there was no tomorrow and doing all those crazy faces like he was a human version of Animal from “The Muppets Show”.

“Man On The Edge” and “Dark Energy 256” kept us going even though it was getting closer to the end. “We want to come back next year but we know that the society may break down and then I will become...” said Blaze and then added the title of the next IRON MAIDEN song which was “Lord Of The Flies”. Another killer (and kind of neglected song) but unfortunately was the one before the last one; yeah, “A Thousand Years” dropped the curtain and really it felt like it was just the fifth song of the set. Damn, we had fun and I hope we’ll see these guys next year with the third and final part of the album-trilogy.

In case you missed this, then know that Blaze is doing free meet-and-greets and will sit at the merch table (coming straight from the stage) to sign, greet and talk to every and each of the fans who will wait after the show. There are few Metal musicians who will do this and be aware of the fans’ perspective and needs. I have nothing more to add; the band BLAZE BAYLEY is in its best form, and seriously, you just can't miss this tour.

BLAZE BAYLEY setlist:

01. “Endure And Survive”
02. “Escape Velocity”
03. “Futureal”
04. “Blood”
05. “Silicon Messiah”
06. “Fight Back”
07. “Virus”
08. “Calling You Home”
09. “Stare At The Sun”
10. “The Clansman”
11. “Man Hunt” (w/ guitar and drum solo)
12. “Man On The Edge”
13. “Dark Energy 256”
14. “Lord Of The Flies”
15. “A Thousand Years”

BLAZE BAYLEY

Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Blaze Bayley @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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