The Man Who Would Not Die
I’ve been fucking bored of heavy metal these days. I couldn’t even remember what I liked about it. Nothing could pull me out of this depression. Not Manowar’s first Glasgow date in 200 years, not a Priest-Maiden live one-two punch to my ear scrotum, not Joe Elliot performing Animal right at me personally. Shut up, he did. No, the thing that finally restored my faith in the mystical properties of denim & leather was a bald man in his late forties thrusting his beer gut enthusiastically into a half-filled cellar of sweat & beards.
It is a little known fact but Blaze Bayley is the first entity ever to survive solely on a diet of crowd participation. The reason the man takes to the stage every night like his life depends on it, and I have it on very good authority that he does play 365 gigs a year, is that he needs to. He requires a daily dose or he would turn to dust. When there’s no backstage area, it’s hard to make a proper rock star entrance but that couldn’t stop Blaze’s triumphant arrival through a sparse crowd to the opening strains of The Brave. Much talk has been made of the recent line-up changes but no complaints could be lain at the feet of the new guys featuring a young Glenn Benton who’s enthusiastic style gave the impression that he might want to murder the drum kit rather than play it. No, they were tighter than a Dave Vincent PVC number.
Blaze’s inspirational series of lectures on the subject of defiance & rebellion punctuated a set of 15 song about defiance & rebellion. There was also a cautionary tale of Bluetooth bringing about the downfall of man so watch out for that one, kids. Drawing songs from his 5 solo albums, Blaze is not a man to rely on nostalgia. That said, he’s well aware of what his audience are after & 6 Maiden songs leave all but the most die hard of Virtual XI fans sated. Whilst Futureal & Man On The Edge bring the unanimity of the whole audience, it is impressive to see how well the solo material goes down. This is due to the simple yet brilliant choruses of tracks like Kill & Destroy, Ghost In The Machine & of course, the pre-requisite woahohoahs that Maiden have sadly moved on from.
The crowd allows for no break before the encore & the band are back in action seconds later with the outstanding Blood & Belief. Closing with my favourite version of Infinite Dreams, The Clansman never fails to go down well north of the border. It is with a renewed vigour that you leave a Blaze gig, ready to give two fingers to the naysayers, defeatists & critics. I never thought we’d have to do this again but it’s time to dust off the 100 Grimmetts. Clichés be damned, Blaze Bayley is the spirit of heavy metal embodied. Gig of the fucking year.