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Monday, 13 March 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Blaze Bayley

Blaze Bayley, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

The former Iron Maiden current Wolfsbane singer made his third trip to Cardiff in three years, this time on the back of his latest album Endure And Survive which is the second in Bayley's sci-fi trilogy dealing with space travel, murder and all kinds of other shenanigans. Having seen Blaze in the same venue around the same time last year, I was anticipating a similar show with a different setlist and that's exactly what I got taking a few more songs from the most recent record Endure And Survive the set opened up with two newbies the title track Endure And Survive and Escape Velocity which opened the set strongly, I was impressed that the hardcore at the front of the stage were shouting along with every word even though the album is barely a week old. 

After the two new songs it was straight back to the Maiden days with the chugging Futureal which whipped the crowd into a frenzy as Chris Appleton handled Janick and Dave Murray's guitar parts easily, with Karl Schramm doing his best Steve Harris (while trying to avoid smacking his head on the alcove at the side of the stage). Back to the new album for the aggressive Blood and then probably one of Bayley's best solo songs the fist pumping, crowd singalong Kill & Destroy which was the first song that really displayed Bayley's antagonistic stage banter where he claimed the crowd was better last year and that he wanted every other crowd to be in awe of Cardiff, he threatened cajoled and gave a heartfelt speech about supporting live independent music, so when it came to the "Kill" refrain in the song the audience were all in one voice. 

Bayley is a master manipulator and neatly segued from Kill & Destroy into I Am Alive which was followed by road anthem Watching The Night Skies with I Live For 1000 YearsEating Lies, I Am Human all in rapid succession Martin McNee's drumming driving along everything at a ferocious pace. A huge cheer was elicited for Silicon Messiah from the album of the same name with Calling Them Home and Stare At The Sun both displaying Bayley's Midas Touch for epics. However his own epic was over-shadowed by the one song from his back catalogue I've never seen him play live, Chris Appleton played the harmonic chords that open The Clansman there was an almighty cheer and we set off. With the rallying cry of "Freedom" every word was shouted back, fists were in the air and it was a glorious celebration of what is in my opinion one of Iron Maiden's best songs.

Chris once again played all the guitar solo parts with ease commanding the stage like the frontman he is (Blaze's backing band are also the three members of Absolva). With little time to rest between the songs we were promised danger next and that's what we got, no not Bayley's Wolfsbane band mate but a song from his first band, it had to be of course the intense Manhunt which created chaos as the Howling Mad Shitheads near the front reverted back to their teenage years and started to bounce with reckless abandon, with some extended solo sections from McNee, Appleton and Schramm before Blaze burst back onto the stage for the climatic Man On The Edge. The hot and sweaty venue was cheering wildly as the set finished and the band left the stage, before being drawn back for one more *free* song Ten Seconds from Blood And Belief . 

It was a glorious celebration of Blaze's career with tracks drawn from every period, the sound was pretty much spot on not suffering from the feedback that occasionally affects the venue. I urge you to see Blaze when he returns to these shores later this year, he's a one man heavy metal machine with a backing band that are extremely talented, he is clearly enjoying every minute and that joy rubs off on everyone witnessing the show. 9/10

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