RHF 2022 (I): Blind Guardian is love

We are following
The will of the one
Through the dark age
And into the storm

Since 1958, Gelsenkirchen’s leading football club has been waiting for a championship in the 1st Bundesliga – the last time they won the title, Konrad Adenauer still resided in the Bundeskanzleramt, and that was located in Bonn. Fortunately, the metal fans in the Ruhr area did not have to wait that long for a new edition of the Rock Hard Festival – but two years without Amphitheater is also a dry spell worth mentioning…

Today and in the next few days, we will present you with one or two reports in which we talk about our personal highlights. Those who know our blog will guess that a festival day with Atlantean Kodex and Blind Guardian on the bill is right up our alley. Therefore, we start with the Saturday headliner: Krefeld’s finest.

At Keep it True Rising! the fans were promised an old school setlist in advance. This turned out to be a deception, as Blind Guardian played many classics at the Posthalle in Würzburg, but in the end offered a standard setlist that I had heard several times before in this form. Although I had a great time, I could well understand the many negative comments in the aftermath. The idea of starting the evening with the solid, but anything but old school “The Ninth Wave“ was rather underwhelming…

At the Rock Hard Festival, things were supposed to be different. No old school setlist was announced, but obviously the band was up for it now. While Aidan and I were reckoning with the above mentioned opener of the last studio album Beyond the Red Mirror, we heard the first notes of … “Into the Storm“! I must point out that Nightfall in Middle-Earth is one of the all-time favourite albums of my dear colleague and me. Starting the evening with this is undoubtedly a brilliant idea. Gelsenkirchen 1, Würzburg 0…

The atmosphere was excellent right from the start – and it was to remain so for the entire 1.5 hours that the neighbours granted Blind Guardian. “Welcome to Dying“ and two more Nightfall gems followed: the quasi-title track and the mighty epic “Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)“. From this moment on, at the latest, we knew: We were experiencing a legendary evening. The following announcement by Hansi confirmed this: Since Somewhere Far Beyond is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, the band had decided to perform the complete album in the Amphitheater. This meant that some tracks were on the programme that are very rarely (“Theatre of Pain“) or almost never (“Black Chamber“) played. Pure ecstasy was guaranteed – and in front of the stage there was indeed a lot of action. It’s been a long time since I had to pave the way for so many crowdsurfers towards the stage… The encore was, of course, “Valhalla“ and “Mirror, Mirror“ – in other words, the Krefelders didn’t play any song released after 1998 that evening. Even though there are many amazing Blind Guardian numbers that were created in the new millennium (“And then there was silence“ and “Fly“ for example), one simply has to say: The first six albums can’t be topped – and albums three to six are among the best that any metal band has ever put on record.

So when this headlining gig ended, we were happy and satisfied all around. You can’t expect more from a concert by Hansi, André, Marcus and Co. It was especially nice to meet the very likeable Danish Blind Guardian maniac William Øgaard from Lost Dawning, who not only gave me competent answers for my latest publication in the field of Metal Studies, but also runs a great Blind Guardian meme site, which is worth a visit. The fact that this young lad is one of those who, as described above, will probably have to wait for the resurrection of Konrad Adenauer before he can celebrate a championship at the highest level in Germany, is a small personal drama that he can certainly get over thanks to such wonderful concerts…

And we are following
The will of the one
Through the dark age
And into the storm
Lord I’m mean

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