Blind Guardian

Rockharz - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

A Blind Guardian gig is always quite a big deal, add to this that they were here headlining a German open air festival, and add to it that it would be their last gig not only of 2012 but also for the entire 2013, and I think you can begin to imagine the excitement that was buzzing like wild fireflies on the air-strip in Ballenstedt long before the band even reached the stage…

It had been a rather long day with lots of music, but when the symphonic intro the band used began rolling out of the speakers, all thoughts of exhaustion and sleep were swept far away and just about 10000 smiles were directed at the stage. Then the band came on, began playing Sacred Worlds, and somehow we just knew that this was going to be something special, even by Blind Guardian standards!
Just as the audience had been, and of course still was to some extent except for those who had gone over to headbanging, the band was also all smiles when they took the stage, but there was something different here – long-time live and studio bass guitarist Oliver Holzwarth wasn’t part of the group anymore, and instead Blind Guardian had found a new live bassist in the guise of Dutchman Barend Courbois who has to my understanding earlier only played in some smaller, lesser known outfits. Why the change has come about I can’t say, but Courbois obviously had the chops to do the songs, although I did miss the positive energy that I always felt Holzwarth was a big part in adding to the show.

The rest of the band was really putting on their a-game on the other hand, and this certainly more than made up for the surprise change.
Hansi Kürsch was very talkative and friendly, but of course it was all in German, so you can imagine how much I understood of it. That’s right, nichts! On the other hand, the general behaviour of him, and the overly positive and energetic performance of his band-mates, was really contagious, and I think I enjoyed things as much as the many Germans around me. I’m used to Blind Guardian being good, but this was something special!

“Mega perfekt Ballenstedt!”
- Hansi Kürsch (vocals)

If there was one thing that threatened to outdo the band though, it was the Rockharz audience! At first I couldn’t quite grasp why Blind Guardian would chose to put a special show like this at a medium sized festival like this, instead of somewhere like Wacken which has a larger crowd and a more international one, but in seeing the enthusiasm that Ballenstedt brought to the show, I was more than convinced that this was a great idea. Also, personally I far prefer a festival of this size, so it was a win-win on all levels…
Getting the largest crowd this festival had seen so far this year together at one time was of course impressive in itself, but when we got to hear the whole crowd sing along it really took the price, and it didn’t take long before that happened; already in the second song of the evening, Welcome To Dying, the chorus was nearly taken over by the German crowd, and somehow it only grew from there! If we count out The Bards Song – In The Forest, which for all reasons will always stand as the undefeated sing-along song from this band, there were a number of their other songs which also got a loving treatment from the crowd; especially The Last Candle with its “guardian, guardian, guardian of the blind” and Valhalla stick out in my memory, but I could go on name-dropping many others as well.
Blind Guardian proved that they could be about more than just volume and grandeur though, as they pulled it in nice and intimate with a double acoustic performance from André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen in A Past And Future Secret, the highlight of the evening for me.

I have seen Blind Guardian quite a few times now over the years, and as I wrote in the beginning it is always quite a big deal in the sense that they always put on an enjoyable show, but damn it all to hell if this wasn’t the best concert by these German speed / power metal heroes that I have ever witnessed! Now, if only I could understand what they were talking about...


Sacred Worlds
Welcome To Dying
Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)
A Voice In The Dark
The Last Candle
A Past And Future Secret
Imaginations From The Other Side
The Bard’s Song – In The Forest
Mirror Mirror

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