Last night I had my second consecutive fantastic Sunday night in Baltimore. I covered Blaze Bayley, a singer who was the former front man of the iconic metal legends Iron Maiden, one of the greatest metal bands the universe has ever seen. This is a tour many may not have paid the attention it well and truly deserves! Iron Maiden is my favorite heavy metal band, bar none. Well, I am one of those people who think his album ‘The X Factor’ with Iron Maiden is fantastic, albeit different from the Dickinson era Maiden. This is an album that had kept me company during my troubled and volatile years while riding down remote mountainous roads in India on my motorcycle. And not once during those days did I imagine Blaze Bayley shoving the microphone right in my face to sing “The Man on The Edge” with him, the way he did last night. Personally, the whole show was sort of a trip down memory lane. Fish Head Cantina, located in Baltimore, is the venue where I photographed my very first heavy metal show, the band on that occasion being the mighty influential NWOBHM band Diamond Head. And to cover another legend in Blaze Bayley was the fitting way to go back to where it all began as a concert photographer.
One thing Blaze Bayley pours into his music is dark energy, and he delivered it in droves during the show. The rendition of Iron Maiden era songs was done with a much more somber voice compared to the earlier Maiden days capturing the dark essence of songs like “Lord of The Flies”, “The Man on The Edge” and “Futureal”. A highly emotive performance, filled with tons of on stage pranks with the guitarist and the bassist, was quite complimentary to the generally dark and somber music. On top of demanding that the fans sing with him, which they heartily obliged with, Blaze Bayley regaled the crowd with a story of how he lost all his hair because of Iron Maiden, “…here is something I have never been asked about by anyone in any interview… I lost all of my hair when I was in Iron Maiden… The speed of Steve Harris’ bass shapes the universe… When you are in the middle of the stage with Iron Maiden, you feel all this energy hitting your face…. At times I feel like my eyeballs are about to burst out of my skull…” Among other things I could not have agreed more with his assessment of the heavy metal music. “…They have been writing our obituary for years. They said that when grunge came, and look where is grunge now…”, said Blaze Bayley. Although a little disappointed that he did not sing “The Sign of The Cross”, my favorite Blaze Bayley song, I was very happy to see “Silicon Messiah” and “Man Hunt” from his post, and pre Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane, days respectively. Hope they play this song on the next tour, for he announced to the Baltimore crowd, “… we will be back next year after releasing the third album (of the Infinite Entanglement sci-fi concept album trilogy telling the story of Captain William Blake, the second one titled ‘Endure and Survive’ has been released) to play right here…” and I can’t wait for that!
So here is my verdict. This is hands down the MOST intimate of all the super intimate shows I have attended. This tour has barely begun, and I highly recommend attending a show. Check out the amazing moment I captured of Blaze Bayley up close and personal with a fan, very few concerts featuring legends get that intimate. By the way, he was also meeting with the folks in signing autographs and posing with fans after the concert, dominant on stage and personable to his fans. Signing off now, until my next review!