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Blind Guardian/ Holy Grail/ Seven Kingdoms

Date: 11/19/10
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Photos: Rich Catino


Great package of bands, hats off to the headlining Germans for picking up some young, lesser known acts for support (much as they did in Europe), in this case, Seven Kingdoms and one of my picks for Best Of 2010, Holy Grail. The Tampa area Seven Kingdoms issued their eponymous sophomore full-length earlier this year. A platter worthy of your attention, this was probably their initial date outside of Florida, so inevitably, probably a little nervous, so I don't want to rip them. However, the female fronted outfit ran through five tunes, a little too stiff, looking a little "fish out of water" in terms of the size of the stage and lack of movement. They received a decent enough reaction though.



Noticed more Wacken festival T-shirts in one place outside of Europe, which is an encouraging sign. Storming out of the gate, Holy Grail are old school/retro, vibrantly new... take your pick! The Cali band received an amazing response, given the fact Crisis In Utopia was only weeks old, the crowd latching on every word. They had to laugh when the intro tape cut out repeatedly, starting to the opening stormer ‘Immortal Man', but the first night soundman couldn't quite dial in a consistent volume. No worries, ‘Call Of Valhalla' and the title track saw James Paul Luna headbanging madly, as the singer did throughout. The twin leads of the aforementioned titular number, including airing a gutsy soft passage, worked surprisingly well, as did ‘My Last Attack and the closing ‘Fight To Kill'. If you haven't checked out Holy Grail yet, you're really missing out!



Overall, the impressive crowd was probably helped by a number of northern NJ/NYC people who ventured south since Saturday they'd have to choose between the Overkill package and tonight's offering. More than a few Friday night defections were in the house. Sort of a surprise, but Blind Guardian kicked off with the video game track, ‘Sacred World'. In jovial form, despite joking about jet lag, Hansi Kursch asked, "Maybe we should only play ballads? No ‘Bard Song' yet, although some of you would like that!" Decked out in trademark head-to-toe black outfits, the Germans launched into an audience sung ‘Welcome To Dying', backed by a few hundred additional vocalists. Despite ad-libbing about skipping the setlist, ‘Born In A Morning Hall', ‘Nightfall' and green lit staging of ‘Fly' were delivered in succession.

Personal items thrown onstage, Kursch admitted it was an unexpected gift, however, "it contained American currency, which is not really worth anything, anymore." Standing at the front of the stage, legs splayed and arms outstretched, the frontman prodded the assemblage to sing along, whenever possible. As someone who corresponded with the band by snail mail as far back as "Somewhere Far Beyond", it warmed my heart to see America FINALLY embrace these classic songs! ‘Time Stand Still' was anything but, a rollicking ‘Traveler In Time', ‘This Will Never End' and a forceful/heavy ‘Voice In The Dark' followed.

Spot lit alone, Kursch introduced the nearly a cappella begun ‘Lord Of The Rings', while from above, concentric circles were visible on the floor of the stage. The set concluded with ‘Imaginations From The Other Side', a track I really never thought I'd hear enjoyed by American audiences. Upstairs, the old timers were headbanging, while the youngsters downstairs flung themselves over the barricade. For the encore, blue lights and Middle Eastern flare introduced ‘Wheel Of Time'. The requisite, acoustic tinged ‘Bard Song', complete with rousing crowd vocals and clapping along came next, then ‘Valhalla'.

People began an impromptu chant for ‘Majesty', which was not on the printed set list. "Do you think that impresses me?" inquires Kursch. "(Band) is thinking of their bunks and beds." Regardless, a green lit stage and calliope heralded the requested ‘Majesty', as much a surprise to the musicians onstage as those who had demanded it. ‘Mirror Mirror' brought the evening to a close. Filing out of the venue and one the street, the response was generally the same: "Almost heard everything I wanted. They played almost two hours. Never would have expected to hear some of that..."

All true. Check it out for yourself when the tour sets down in your neighborhood.


Sacred Worlds
Welcome to Dying
Born in a Mourning Hall
Time Stands Still
Traveler in Time
This Will Never End
A Voice in the Dark
Lord of the Rings
Imaginations from the Other Side
Wheel of Time
The Bard's Song
Mirror Mirror

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