Blaze Bayley with Thomas Zwijsen & Anne Bakker
Date: 28th September, 2017
Venue: Rockbåten M/S Harmony
Tickets: 200SEK (€20/$23) in advance - 250SEK (€25/$29) day of
Promoter: Rockbåten M/S Harmony
Photos: Erika Wallberg
It felt good to return to Rockbåten for a new event as it was months since I had last visited the place and I've missed it. I really enjoy the intimacy of the shows even if I get a bit stressed out due to the lack of a raised stage which eliminates my possibilities to see anything at all of the show if I get a tall person in front of me.
It wasn't an issue this time (either) and the laid back event made people stay in their chairs, for a while at least. This was an acoustic evening which made it more relaxed than normal. But it's good to be able to watch and focus on the music and it is fascinating to study when Thomas Zwijsen play. It's only him but it sounds like a whole ensemble. Ok, at least to start with it was only Thomas onstage doing a few numbers from his “Nylon Maiden” albums. It's both a bit weird and really cool to hear the songs arranged for classical guitars. There's no mistaking what song he is playing as everything is there, the rhythm as well as melodies, though instrumental. Included in the first section of the show was a non-MAIDEN song also, a Flamenco whose title I fail to remember. This one in particular Thomas right hand looked crazy, almost dead (and out of focus since it moved so fast) while the strings said something completely different. Layer after layer and super-clean at the same time.
Then Anne Bakker entered on violin for “No Prayer For The Dying”, a really nice feature in the set. I love the classics of course but to get one or two more odd and not all that predictable is always fun. And this track worked perfectly with the guitar and violin arrangement. For the next one Thomas announced a competition, the one naming the song correct would win a beer but if taking a wrong guess the person owed him and Anne a beer each. The suggestions came in and one guy actually ran to the bar and got the band beers as his guess was wrong. I'm not sure if the favor was returned when someone hit the right one. It was actually quite annoying since I recognize the track but couldn't really place it. I haven't done my IRON MAIDEN homework lately, that's clear. The right answer was “Strange World” and here Anne took on the microphone as well and it sounded very good. It's of course odd to have a delicate female pipe singing it when used to Paul Dianno's good but rather raw voice.
Then it was time for Blaze. I really liked the structure of the whole set, end to end with Thomas and Anne doing a few of the classics and then focus on the Blaze-era of IRON MAIDEN and the BLAZE BAYLEY material for the remainder of the show. “Judgement Of Heaven” followed by “Virus” initiated the set with Blaze behind the microphone. One of the best moments of the whole show was “What Will Come”; the nerve in the song with the sparse instrumental part behind Mr. Bayley's vocals was absolutely fantastic. The same can be said about “Remember” from the second part of “Infinite Entanglement”, the character is slightly different but this too is a phenomenal track. Ok, it perhaps isn't much difference between this performance and the record but it was still great to hear them live.
Then it was a big difference with songs as “Futureal” (in particular), “2 A.M” or “Como Estais Amigos”. The first of the three is a fast one but that too worked. With the other two I started to hope for some odd songs from the BLAZE albums as well.
Blaze is very intense when on stage and it was no difference here really. He wasn't moving and running around as usual of course but his mimics and expressions still tell the whole story so one challenge became to capture the emotions going through the songs with the camera (there’s no 3 song limitations at Rockbåten). For a song like “Russian Holiday” and “One More Step” where Blaze was giving out his feelings and innermost thoughts, sharing with everyone present and that certainly added to the intimacy. It's not often my emotions going up and down with a performance, but this was both heartfelt and fun at the same time.
Towards the end of the main set Blaze started ranting about how much the music-world meant to him and how much he has put in to be where he is today. There's no doubt that he's one of the hardest working guys in the business. Even more so these last few years when he's been releasing the records on his own label, doing everything by himself, then it really comes down to “Life And Death”... I love that song, I love the “Blood And Belief” album but the closest I've ever come to hear it live was sneaking around outside a venue during that tour and they sound-checked it. Since then, I've always been hoping it would show up and it finally did. I tried to scream but couldn't, nothing came out of my mouth. And yes, it was a fantastic experience and I hope he will keep it in the set for future tours also.
Then to something completely different; according to Blaze, if screaming along to “Manhunt”, the WOLFSBANE hit, one would be a better looking person leaving the place. Apparently it would light you up and make you look better than the rest of the people not singing with Blaze in this song. I really like the track and it was fun but it perhaps isn't the best song for acoustic guitar and violin. The rest of the set held much more dynamics and fines. But it was fun. The wrap-up with IRON MAIDEN's “The Angel Snd The Gambler” and “Man On The Edge” worked fine too but I think the BLAZE (and BLAZE BAYLEY) tracks did the show. The records are fantastic and Blaze has a fantastic voice and the soul in those songs was really made justice in this setup. I also think it was a good thing to stick to the material which features his voice. “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” deviates for that but was released with Blaze on vocals for “Visions Of The Beast” which he was clear to point out. Then, even if “Fear Of The Dark” is a mega-hit and often featured in the BLAZE BAYLEY set I think it was good they skipped it. As I said, he has so much good material of his own to play and I'm really happy he did. It was a fantastic set and a super fun night out in Helsingborg.
BLAZE BAYLEY setlist:
01. “Aces High”
02. “2 Minutes To Midnight”
03. “The Trooper”
04. “No Prayer For The Dying”
05. “Strange World”
06. “Judgement Of Heaven”
08. “The Launch”
09. “What Will Come”
11. “2 A.M”
13. “Como Estais Amigos”
14. “Russian Holiday”
15. “Afraid To Shoot Strangers”
16. “One More Step”
17. “Stealing Time”
18. “Life And Death”
20. “The Angel And The Gambler”
21. “Man On The Edge”
Blaze Bayley w/ Thomas Zwijsen & Anne Bakker
(click to enlarge)