This would have been a good show for someone who had never been exposed to heavy metal at all because everything about this evening was turned up to eleven. The three bands involved brought a little bit of everything to the table this evening, but it all was in the service of classic heavy metal in its purest form.
First up was Demons & Wizards. This was a show I never expected to see in person. Demons & Wizards is a long-dormant side project of Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian. These guys came together in an attempt to blend the more aggressive musical style of Iced Earth with the fantasy lyricism of Blind Guardian. Many times collaborations between artists don’t always gel as well in practice as it would seem they would on paper. The two albums these guys cobbled together in 1999 and 2005 were absolutely perfect in realizing their goal and, in many respects, outperformed the guys’ main gigs in terms of quality. They have played a few one-off shows in Europe during the festival circuits, but I really never thought they would get enough logistical support to actually pull off a tour of the U.S. Well, damn near 20 years from the release of the debut album and we get an awesome surprise. For the touring band, Schaffer and Kursch brought along Blind Guardian rhythm guitarist Marcus Siepen to play bass and current Iced Earth lead guitarist Jake Dreyer to tackle lead guitar. The set list was an absolute blistering rendition of songs from both albums with selected numbers from Iced Earth and Blind Guardian. Even though he is starting to look more and more like a Confederate General from his beloved Civil War days with his freshly shorn grey hair and increasingly interesting facial hair choices, Schaffer remains one of the best rhythm guitarist going. He’s right up there with Hetfield in crafting these speedy, clean and crunchy riffs. If these guys have dates set in your town on this current tour, go see this show. This was one of those special moments that we probably won’t get a chance to see again.
In the middle slot of the evening, we got to bathe in a wave of nostalgia in a very satisfying set from 80s shock rocker Lizzy Borden. Yep, Lizzy is still cranking them out and he still has the pipes to make Geoff Tate jealous and the myriad of costume and mask changes to make Rob Halford feel like it’s all a bit over the top. Lizzy looked a little hefty in his black and silver sequined body suit, but dammit, he absolutely nailed all of the high notes with ease. His band is made up of youngsters that I have to believe none of which were alive when most of the songs in the setlist were written. This was a great visit to the Murderess Metal Roadshow complete with him brandishing the axe and spewing blood all over the audience members next to the stage.
Opening the evening was Faroe Island Viking/folk metal band Tyr. This was my first exposure to these guys and they put forth a rousing opening set full of songs that seemed perfectly suited for a rowdy alehouse full of drunken Vikings. Lots of hearty sing-along chorus that had a good chunk of the early crowd calling back and forth with the band. Perfect opener.
Demons & Wizards-Poor Man’s Crusade
Demons & Wizards-Burning Times (Iced Earth)
Demons & Wizards-Tear Down the Wall
Lizzy Borden-Master of Disguise