Blind Guardian - Live
Virgin
Power Metal
Disc 1: 11 songs (64:27) Disc 2: 11 songs (69:29)
Release year: 2003
Blind Guardian, Virgin
Reviewed by Jay
Major event

I was fortunate enough to see Blind Guardian twice on their world tour last year. They criss-crossed Europe several times, hit up Japan, South America and even did a hugely successful North American trek with Symphony X as support. They are really the bards of the world as they would call themselves. Their live show has no pyro, no flashy stage props, costumes, or super special lighting. It’s just them on stage. The energy they play with is virtually unmatched in today’s metal scene. Virtually no other band is as good live. Blind Guardian does everything they can to get the crowds into the music and they are successful. The cheers and chants of the crowd on this album are testament to that fact. Hansi knows how to whip them up and the bombastic choruses that the audience sings allows everyone to get lost in the music. Talking to the crowds between songs allows another level of intimacy that is lost on most American bands that blow through sets as fast as possible.

Technically, the recordings are flawless. The sound is perfect, with every note in tune and in the right place. The amazing thing is that there do not seem to be many overdubs. Blind Guardian is that good at reproducing their music live. Hansi doesn’t seem to be able to reach some of the high notes live but that doesn’t matter because his voice is spectacular otherwise. He also has one of the most unique voices in metal and this comes across well. The backing vocals can be weak at times but mostly they are perfectly mixed in place.

Above all, the reason that Blind Guardian has persevered is because they give their fans what they want. At the beginning of “Majesty”, the crowd chants “Majesty, Majesty” and Hansi says “I do have something else on the list, but if you want it, you will get it!” Then they rip into a spirited rendition of the song to please the eager fans. This level of professionalism is virtually unheard of in music. They still will have a large fan base in the future, if they keep this up.

The album speaks for itself. For me, it was really like reliving a Blind Guardian concert. They have crafted this album so that even, you, the home listener feels included in the festivities of a live concert. The opening of “Mordred’s Song” is even more poignant than the recording with the haunting crowd singing backups. The guitars are saddening and sharp. The disc manages to deliver all the emotional highs and lows of a show without you even being there. I also like the decision to use recordings from different shows. This allows the band to pick and choose among the best versions, minimizing the need for overdubs. It also allows the listener to see how the crowds differ from country to country. In Spain, chants of “Ole, Ole” are common. Regardless of place, the “Guar-Di-An” chant between songs is present.

Born in a Mourning Hall” for some reason seems to be my favorite song on this album. While it is chocked full of favorites and goodies, this song strikes me. It could be the fantastic guitar sound on the intro, Hansi’s strong vocals, Thomen’s killer drumming or the amazing power of having thousands of people shout “Born in a Mourning Hall” during the chorus. The little things like Thomen’s use of the ride cymbal and double bass during the chorus to produce a bouncing effect make this song a masterpiece. Andre’s solo is terrific, the acoustics adding extra effects that make it even more perfect. As with the single, “The Bard’s Song (In the Forest)” the song is once again sung as a duet between Hansi and the crowd. The power of the voices in unison is tremendous and can make one feel alive. No other band that I know of can command an entire audience to sing the entire song. Four and a half minutes of cheering follow this song alone. The crowd favorite, “Valhalla” is even more excellent than when I saw them. While there is not much special in terms of the musical aspects, it is another example of how this band can enrapture a crowd in their live parts. Also interesting is hearing Hansi sing the parts that Kai Hansen sung on the original album version. I still prefer Kai’s vocals but Hansi does make the words his own. This song is about the chorus though. It was designed for a crowd. After the song ends, the crowd continues chanting the chorus while Thomen pounds out beats for a full two minutes.

The song selection, as mentioned earlier, covers every album of their career with no emphasis on any one album in particular. The only glaring omission is “The Curse of Feanor” which they played all the time. Other older songs like “Banish from Sanctuary” and “Traveler in Time” were not included, but such is life. In addition, crowd noise is needed on a live album, but on certain occasions, there is too much. If a lot of the excess noise had been cut, there would have been room for one or two more songs. That being said, the album is incredible and no Blind Guardian fan’s collection is complete without this album. Other bands take note. This is how to do a live album.

Killing Songs :
All your Blind Guardian favorites.
Jay quoted no quote
Other albums by Blind Guardian that we have reviewed:
Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red Mirror reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Blind Guardian - Somewhere Far Beyond reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Blind Guardian - At The Edge Of Time reviewed by Kyle and quoted 86 / 100
Blind Guardian - Follow The Blind reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Blind Guardian - A Voice In The Dark (CD Single) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 16 reviews click here
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