BLAZE BAYLEY / WRATH
Date: 08th May, 2019
Venue: The Brauer House
Ticket: $12/€11 (in advance) - $15/€13 (day of)
Sure, there was a good deal of Metal shows lined up, but there was no frickin' way to miss Blaze Bayley. Every show I have been with him on the billing has been amazing and even though I am sure many will frown upon reading this, I am including in this the IRON MAIDEN gigs. Yeah, no matter the name of the band, Blaze is well-known for putting high-energy shows, especially with the latest incarnation of his band and I am obviously talking about the ABSOLVA gentlemen. The occasion was made even sweeter because Blaze had concluded his William Black trilogy and therefore, I was extremely excited to get a hearty scoop from this demanding project that he and his band delivered without missing a bit from the schedule.
The weather that Wednesday night was not inviting at all to the point that made me wonder how the attendance would be. On the other hand, The Brauer House was a bar (duh), so I did not think it would be bad and it wasn't. WRATH were already onstage delivering their Thrash with same ferocity I have seen in all their past shows. Sure, they were doing their part in front of a sparse crowd simply because the majority of the metalheads have found a nice spot close to the bar enjoying some adult beverages. That did not stop WRATH who packed as much music as it was possible in the allocated time. Yeah, talking was kept at minimum and the only rhetoric question singer Gary Golwitzer asked was: “Are you having fun this Wednesday night?” and without waiting for a definitive answer, he let “Test Of Fate” and “Insane Society” do the rest. I think I have said this in previous WRATH shows but I don't mind repeating myself; this band has become a solid Thrash machine and their hard work shows from the stage. “We have one more for you; you know what is coming” hinted Gary and judging by the reaction of the people in front of the stage (we had grown in numbers by then), everybody was aware that it was going to be the MOTÖRHEAD cover. Although I do prefer originals over covers, WRATH have made this an absolutely killer curtain-dropper and this instance was no different. Ok, Gary Modica did not break the bass strings at the end – as he usually does – but the rest was there and this was another intense show delivered by WRATH.
01. “R.I.P. (Ripped Into Pieces)”
02. “Tensions On High”
03. “Abuse It (Till It Bleeds)”
04. “Draw Blood”
05. “Test Of Fate”
06. “Insane Society”
07. “Ace Of Spades” ( MOTÖRHEAD cover)
It did not take a detective's eye to understand that Blaze had cut as many expenses as it was humanly possible to make this tour happen. That's right; there was no stage crew and everybody was setting his own gear. In fact, this may as well be the first show where a band had compo amps. What I am try to say is that there was one amp for the guitar and one for the bass while the drums belong to WRATH. “It is not me, I am just one of the stage crew”, said Blaze using his British sarcasm to describe the situation while prepping the stage. Looking at all those already happy faces in front of the stage, made it clear that each and everyone knew exactly what he had come to see. Soon enough, Blaze was exchanging jokes wearing his trademark and honest to a fault smile that is impossible to resist.
After finding the source of an annoying sound from one of the drum mic (disconnecting was the executive decision to move on), everything was ready for Blaze and his equally dedicated band. Of course, they went backstage just to get properly into the role. Oh yeah, we saw a different Blaze stepping on the small stage; he was pumped and ready to give everything he got for the next 90 minutes. “Forget about what is happening outside, or what date it is. You're right here, right now and nothing else matters. This is our time and we will make the most of it”, he said with the type of passion you see in all those TED talks that are pale in comparison to how motivated we felt the moment the anthemic riffs of “The Dark Side Of Black” broke the music silence. Despite the obvious fatigue of touring the States, Chris, Karl, Martin and the tip of the spear Blaze floored the gas pedal throwing everyone into the Metal zone. His unique way of approaching the front rows and putting his hands on your headbanging head makes it clear that he is definitely one of the clan underlining the statement “we are in this together and nothing separates us”. Damn, the entire band sounded absolutely awesome with Chris being the ultimate wingman to Mr. Blaze. “A Thousand Years” and “Dark Energy 256” came back-to-back and to my delight the audience seemed to be well-educated on the trilogy and this made the experience even better. The first MAIDEN stop was “Lord Of The Flies” and the loud singing-long was a solid proof that more people had come in the meantime.
This loud support did not go unnoticed; “It's really our pleasure to be here tonight, thank you for your support, it means the world to me”, said Blaze in his honest way that you know he means every frickin' word that comes out from his mouth. This tour was named 'The Eagle Spirit' tour being obviously focused on the William Black trilogy, so Blaze made sure to say a couple of things before key songs to give a bit of context and it was great to see everyone paying attention. “The World Is Turning The Wrong Way” was one of such case and the way it was paired with the deeply emotional “Life Goes On” was a goosebumps moment. Sure, the story of William Black is fictional but if you pay closer attention, you'll see that the lyrics have a lot to do with reality and, on top of this, you will understand that this song speaks straight to your heart. That's right, my friends, life does go on and getting to hear this with this passion made it even stronger.
I am sure that the band had carefully selected how the song would appear on the set because it made absolutely sense to have after the emotional “Life Goes On” it was time for the riff-driven “Escape Velocity” to blow some steam off and the confidence-builder “Fight Back” to make us feel able to achieve anything. That's some explosive sequence, don't you agree? I am sure I am repeating myself here but I don't care because “Virus” happens to be an overlooked and underrated song. In fact, this was not released in an full length album but in a “best of” so many have let it slip. Anyway, the fast break with the chanting along riffs were executed right in front of me is the definition of an intimate setting and - honestly - I could not be happier.
“After IRON MAIDEN I started my solo career and I completely failed. I released my first solo album and there was no show booked”, said Blaze stating something that did not make sense back then (when “Silicon Messiah” had been released) and it still doesn't. Well almost, because there was a good amount of sad MAIDEN fans who were blaming Blaze for... really I don't know why they were attacking him and in fact “X Factor” is an amazing album and it may as well be the darkest album IRON MAIDEN have put out. Anyways, the title track from Blaze's solo LP sounded great and unofficially underlined what I was thinking about how unfair the Metal scene had been to this frontman.
I feel ashamed to admit that I have not paid the same attention at the last part of the trilogy as I have done with the first two. However, these songs get figuratively alive in concert and once combined with the visual stimulation, seeing the guys performing them reaches an optimum level. “We've reached the end of the story with the final song of this album that speaks about redemption”, explained Blaze before adding “come with us feel the energy and the power of the eagle spirit”. “Eagle Spirit” turned out to be a fantastic live song and with some mood / spirit lifting lyrics that delivered by such passion made you feel able to achieve everything - did I say that Blaze should be a TED/motivation speaker? You know damn well how right I am! For an unknown reason, “Calling You Home” sounded equally emotional and it was the proper way to close the regular set on such a high note.
Sometimes encores feel part of the show and therefore, are not spontaneous or after public demand. In this instance, the encore was a proper one and the band returned after hearing all those cheers. “Now I am working for free...”, said Blaze and once more spoke to our hearts: “when you are feeling down, remember this evening and this energy” and let “Stare At The Sun” do the rest. I would be done for having two more BLAZE BAYLEY songs in place of two MAIDEN ones, but I am sure there can never be a setlist without at least one of “Man On The Edge” and “Futureal”. We got both that night and the band challenged us to harder in a futile attempt to match the onstage energy. The show was a blast and if there was another show close by, I would not mind driving a couple of hours for a reprise. Blaze did not go backstage but sat at a booth and did a second free meet-and-greet to chat with everyone who wanted to. If I was to compare Blaze's passion and dedication to the music and the fans, that would have to be compared with Doro and that's says a lot. I hope it will not take too long before we get this band back to the States!
BLAZE BAYLEY setlist:
01. “The Dark Side Of Black”
02. “A Thousand Years”
03. “Dark Energy 256”
04. “Lord Of The Flies”
05. “The World Is Turning The Wrong Way”
06. “Life Goes On”
07. “Escape Velocity”
08. “Fight Back”
10. “Silicon Messiah”
11. “The Day I Fell To Earth”
12. “Eagle Spirit”
13. “Calling You Home”
14. “Stare At The Sun”
15. “Man On The Edge”
(click to enlarge)