Here we are back at Glasgow’s Ivory Blacks which seems to be Blaze Bayley’s venue of choice in Scotland these days, this time on his “Endure and Survive” tour. This is the second album in his ongoing trilogy, the first being last year’s excellent Infinite Entanglement. But before we get to Blaze, we have two very talented local opening bands.
First up tonight we have Midnight Force. If you like your music old school, as in NWOBHM, then you are in for a treat as they open with “Medusa” from their excellent five-track EP Restless Blade which was released last year. The band have a great singer and storyteller in John – what a set of lungs!
We head to the “Scarlet Citadel” before getting caught up in a “Crystal Talon” with a huge nod towards Judas Priest in their Sad Wings of Destiny period, with perhaps a touch of Di’Anno era Maiden chucked in for good measure. We meet the “Warlord Eternal” next before they play with the “Restless Blade”.
The band close a short but excellent set with their eponymous “Midnight Force” which reminded me a lot of Anvil. This is a band I will definitely be catching again live. Give them a look/like on facebook.
Next up, Damaj whom I’ve seen on several occasions and they just keep getting better and tonight is no exception. In fact, they were the openers for Blaze Bayley on last year’s Glasgow date so they’ve been bumped up a position and deservedly so. The majority of the set comes from last year’s excellent debut 4 track EP The Wrath of the Tide.
The band kick off with “The King”. Daniel’s voice keeps getting better and better. I always think of Trivium when listening to the boys for some reason. I love to watch James on lead guitar as he makes it all look so flawlessly easy, one of my favourite young guitarists out there at the moment. The confidence truly shows with himself and Daniel trading licks throughout the set.
The colossal 7-minute “Testament of Judas” is next with the rhythm team of David on Bass and Scott on drums really kicking it up a notch. We have another couple off the EP in the form of title track “The Wrath of the Tide” and “The Well of Souls”. The EP, incidentally, is well worth a listen, although I can’t wait for more new tracks. They end an all too short set with the excellent “Traverse the Light” followed by “Die for Nothing”.
Damaj have more dates coming up so check out their website for where and when and catch them while they are still on the small stage.
The main man Blaze Bayley now, touring on the back of his new opus Endure and Survive, second album in his trilogy series and the continuing story of William Black which started with Infinite Entanglement last year.
We have the excellent Chris Appleton on guitar, Karl Schramm on bass and drummer Martin McNee as his touring band again so you know it will be good. They kick off with the title track “Endure and Survive”. As you would expect, this band are so tight given their involvement with Blaze on the road and the studio. The man himself is in fine form and remains one of the great rock/metal vocalists out there, making a mark from his early Wolfsbane days up to present day.
We reach “Escape Velocity” next, quite possibly my favourite off the new album, with Chris’s guitar accompanying Blaze’s soaring vocals. We head into the past now and to an underrated Maiden Album Virtual XI and the excellent “Futureal”. The band are more than a match for Maiden, with Karl taking to those Steve Harris parts with ease. We get the taste for “Blood” next from the new album as Martin pounds us into the track. “Blood” shows off the vocal style which makes Blaze so unique. With each new release from him you can see why he is still going strong today.
We are off now to 2002’s Tenth Dimension to “Kill and Destroy”, always a great thumping rock track live. Next we are very much “Alive” from Blood and Belief with its crunching guitar work and pounding rhythms. We return to the current album as they “Fight Back” and the continual quality of Blaze’s writing shines through, musically this is another step up for the band.
A great singalong track next as the band launch into “A Thousand Years”. Blaze is on fire tonight and is constantly on the barrier singing directly to us. Singers in other bands could learn a lot from this man’s interaction with his fans. A change in pace follows with “Eating Lies”, the last track tonight from the new album. Slow or fast, the man’s voice is superb, another stunning song with such soaring vocals.
The fantastic title track from Silicon Messiah rocks up as we hit roughly midway through the set. Blaze has such an amazing back catalogue of tracks to pick from for his live shows, you wonder how he picks the set list. As the guitar kicks in you know it’s “Human” now with it’s hook-ridden chorus written just to be sung from the crowd. With stunning “Calling You Home” next, the quality of the music and lyrics in these first two albums in the trilogy makes you wonder what the final album in the series will be like.
We head back to Maiden now with the epic “The Clansman” which, as you would expect here in Scotland, goes down a storm. Again, who needs Maiden when you have this band playing? Technically they are amazing and, boy, they are having fun tonight. A big step back in time with the mental, epic “Manhunt” from Wolfsbane with all sorts of mayhem on stage as the band has a bit of fun at Blaze’s expense! It’s truly a joy to watch a band like this having so much fun.
Another from the Maiden days closes the main set tonight with the thunderous track “Man on the Edge” from The X Factor, a joyous sing-along killer track. We manage to get the man back on for an encore and we get treated to “The Brave” from 2000’s Silicon Messiah.
It’s hard to fault tonight’s performance because I cannot find any holes. The whole show was simply stunning and possibly the best I have seen the man live to date – and I have seen him in every incarnation, from Wolfsbane back in the day up via Maiden to his current solo career.
There are reasons he is still here today: quality music, the right band behind him and the fact that he genuinely cares about his music and fans. This always comes across live and in person when you chat to him. The tour is ongoing so go out there and catch him live, and get the stunning new album – you will not be disappointed with either. Roll on the final chapter in the trilogy series and the next tour as I will be there, down the front as always.
All photos by Coops Gig Photography.