Well, I have not seen Blaze Bayley live for a long, long time, back in Wolfsbane days actually, and that was as a support band. I did not have great expectations for tonight, but boy how wrong was I?
Before I get to the superb show the headliner put on tonight, we have some local bands to cover. The first of which was Damaj. This is he first time I have seen the boys this year, since the change in line up (hello Scott… it looks like you have taken over Daniel’s bad luck with instruments). The line up change is not the only change that has taken place. The band have shaken up all manner of things from the set list, to a much more talkative Daniel. He is learning how to work a crowd, and with the amount of solid bands they supported last year, he has picked up a good few tricks, and tonight’s crowd reaction was a testament to that.
The set list changes worked a treat, as you are getting a different kind of a feel from the guys, a bit heavier and definitely a lot more accomplished. The interaction between both the guitarists is also great to see. Both Daniel and James are excellent fret men, but before, it felt as if they had their own space in the band, it seemed very structured, so seeing them swap licks between each other was brilliant. This will only bring out the best in both of them. I also do not want to leave out David Douglas on bass. The poor boy often gets stuck in the corner at these shows, and usually under no lights, so he gets very little attention. Tonight that changed as he was up front and propped on the edge of the stage, and I finally got a chance to watch his work… this boy can really play. He has some really nice moves. It was a great set, and a great crowd reaction. It was almost like watching a new band for me. Their confidence seems sky high, and deservedly so, as they are a great band and well worth catching. Keep the progression going guys and for God’s sake get us that album!
Next up was FNL. I am going to keep this short and sweet. The band really weren’t to my taste. The band has been around the block, and unfortunately, I cannot see them go much further than their support slot tonight. They are solid enough, but if I say to you the highlight of the set for me was the cover of The Osmonds, “Crazy Horses”. That should tell you a story. I cannot fault the effort, but not for me. Sorry, guys.
…and now to the Man himself. Mr Blaze Bayley, please step forward. As I inferred earlier, I was never a fan. I saw Wolfsbane back in the day, and they, like the band above, they did not swing it for me. I was a massive Maiden fan, and I did buy ‘X Factor’ when it came out, but again I just did not feel it. This was not purely to do with Blaze, as my undying love for the band was waining some time before. My first ever gig was Iron Maiden back in 1980, and from that day I was what you would call a mega fan. I may only have been 12 years old, but all my money went on Maiden. I bought every version of every single, as many imports as possible… basically, your everyday Maiden fan.
When “Bring Your Daughter…” came around, they got that UK number 1 slot, but at the expense of the fans. If I remember rightly, there were 5 versions, and I bought them all… but this was where my sensibility started kicking in. I saw the ruse, and what I felt before as great collector editions it hit home that is was just to sell records, get as high in the charts as you can, and sod the fans.
So unfortunately, Blaze was tagged along with the back end of that. I believe the ‘X Factor’ tour was the first Maiden tour I had not attended since 1980. This is all old hat now, and I was more than happy to give the man a chance, and boy did he take it with both hands. The band played a 2 hour set, in what is not anywhere near the biggest venue in this city (shall we call it quaint?). There was a decent turn out for a Wednesday night, and there were a fair few from Edinburgh who had made the journey.
I really do not know where to start with the positives tonight. As I said, two hours of music, old, very old, and new, all mixed together. The effort this man puts in on stage is magnificent. His voice was outstanding. Unlike most vocalists his age, he seems to have improved and taken on more depth and pitch than I remember from live or record in the past. The man can work a crowd as well. This is where the effort came in. He never stopped. He had the patter, he looked people in the eyes, and he goaded that crowd for a bigger reaction every time (Asking if this was Edinburgh really got the crowd up a few notches in volume). I also have to give a shout out to the audience tonight. They know the man and have obviously stuck with him through thick and thin.
I fully expected a set list rammed with Maiden songs, but that was not the case. The man has the balls to leave that to the minimum and trust his own talents, and well done to him. This raised my level of appreciation even higher, but not as much as his humble approach to dealing with the Maiden situation. No Mustaine-style chip on the shoulder the size of Kansas. He lets us know how proud he was of what he did, and how gutted he was when Bruce came back, but he got back on his horse, and took the songs he had written for what he thought was the next album, and released it as his own. I am sure he took a lot of Maiden fans with him on his journey, and by tonight’s crowd reaction they are still here.
Tonight I was given a lesson in humility, and slapped in the face for jumping to conclusions. I was shown how a rock show should be done by a master. We got all the hits in this set and although we wrapped it up in a Maiden song, he got a louder cheer for his own stuff. Stick to your guns Blaze, and come back soon. I have been won over, and in a large way.
Review Ritchie Birnie
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