During our recent contact and talk with Blaze Bayley, the words of John Ruskin about humility and modesty came to mind effortlessly. Thus, the anxiety and eagerness for the night of his upcoming show in Athens, grew larger.
The night of November 12th in Gagarin Live Music Space, was to seal the belief that, what we had figured out (of course not for the first time) during our conversation, was as true as it seemed.
Under the obligation to be honest, as always, to the readers of this text, I have to point out clearly from the very start, that it is not going to be a text of moderate notions and sentiments. The night we experienced can only and fairly be described with the use of superlatives.
And it was obvious from the very beginning….
Arriving near the venue before the time the doors were to open, at 20.00 local time, one could see a waiting line that we hadn’t experienced for a long time. An obvious omen for what we would live after passing those two familiar doors….
The attendees, at the end of the night, were also another proof of the thirst of a devoted audience, which overpassed the recent “big names’” attendance in the same venue.
The clock would point at 21.10 and Absolva came in front of our eyes taking their places, while their frontman Chris Appleton, welcomed us in Greek. They started with “Fire in the sky”, “Burn inside” and “Addiction” and Chris spent no time before connecting with the audience.
It was around then, when our practice in ….. vowels, for the night, would start…..”Athina” ”Eeeeeeee” and the vibe between Absolva and the Gagarin audience was there….The following track “What Does God Know” from the new album, would calm down the atmosphere for a while and I would, personally, say it deserves some “listening sessions”.
Moving to “Never a Good Day to Die”, the band started exciting again the fans, when the first “Scream for me Athina”, of the night, was there.
Chris’ brother Luke started his connection with the crowd during “Legion”, while he would already record the crowd when they performed “Code Red”. “Rise Again”, “Refuse to Die” and the final “From Beyond the Light” completed their set, thanking the fans, conveying to us the honour it was for them, but most importantly, easily, sincerely and beyond any doubt, managing to not only warm up the crowd, but connecting with them in an interactive performance. Till next time….Cheers Absolva!
Fire in the Sky
What Does God Know
Never a Good Day to die
Refuse to Die
From Beyond the Light
Absolva concluded their set around ten o’clock and after a quick change of the banner, there were about twenty minutes for the band to rest, while the photographers kept taking pictures from a fan with an Iron Maiden mask, from their homonymous album.
Anxiety was growing larger and around 22.20 the audience started asking for the one they had come for. The whole Absolva band took their places again, as they also represent Blaze Bayley’s band (supporting the whole setlist in a more than satisfactory way). Bayley turned up, called everybody to forget about everything else and a “sing-along” just started, under the notes of the opening “Lord of the Flies”.
“Sign of the Cross” brought the first captivating moment, with Gagarin’s audience jumping up and down and the floor shaking, especially in the “balcony”, while a huge, invisible “a fire in the sky” seemed to be exiting the ceiling of Gagarin, starting to shape an unforgettable night in Athens.
It was time for “Judgement of Heaven”, when Blaze told us about how Greece got into his heart, since the beautiful, for him, Maiden years. It was early in the night or maybe not really, to figure out, that for many people in this country, those years have been and always be, some of the prettiest Maiden years, as well.
The sound was very good (since the night started) and the setlist would continue with three songs from the “War Within Me” Bayley’s album. They started with the homonymous, followed by one of Bayley’s favourite, “Pull Yourself Up” and concluded with “Warrior”, a word that is and should characterise us, as he said. A proper and very special part of the setlist, depicting exactly what Blaze had told us during our interview, about an optimistic album, with motivating and lyrically strong songs, I would say.
The time had come for another, equally strong, personal favourite (which I can’t understand why it is not picked instead of “Sign of the Cross” for the Maiden shows), “Fortunes of War”. One of the highlights of the night for me, a song I could hear continuously.
“Virus” was a song they never played live with Maiden, as he told us, so we had the chance to enjoy their arrangement. The audience really enjoyed it and, in front of the stage, a small “fight” began. Furthermore, beforehand, he shared with us his belief, that the world, is not in danger and will not be destroyed by a virus or global heating, but by the real virus, which is politicians.
Bayley had decided not to have an encore, probably due to the following “meet & sign” session. Therefore, there was a triple “Virtual XI” follow-up. “When Two Worlds Collide”, which he had written with Dave Murray, as mentioned, “The Clansman” and another favourite of his, a song about reconciliation, “Como estais amigos”.
Constant “sing-along” by some of the greatest “fan singers”, in accordance with what he had told us for Soundcheck readers, and a great smile on his face, obviously depicting Bayley’s great joy, satisfaction and the fact that he seemed emotionally moved. What took place, during “The Clansman”, cannot be described and can only be understood, if someone watches the live video on Soundcheck Network’s facebook page.
“Scream for me Greece” as signaled by Blaze, and then a “finger game”, only triggered after a series of enormous yells, to move on to “Man on the Edge”. “Futureal” would follow, and the sports’ slogan to follow “Crazy, crazy the bold man”, was soon translated to Bayley, who would burst into laughs.
“The Angel and the Gambler” concluded the setlist, with an introduction of the band (Absolva) and a promise for the next meeting.
Summing up what we lived and felt during Saturday night in Gagarin, there can be no moderate words. It was an extraordinary night, a much-awaited setlist and performance from Blaze, a night to remember for sure. If what we lived, amongst other moments, during “The Clansman” could be a whole concert, it would represent the ideal one. Additionally, the levels of contribution, passion and enjoyment the audience reached, require a performer of Blaze’s level to inspire them.
Apart from that, for me, the way I experienced Blaze through our interview and the live performance added to that, I could, fearlessly, say that if there was a School of Metal, then it would certainly have a “Blaze role model”.
Following the footsteps of the greatest singer of all times, Ronnie James Dio, who had taught how to respect his fans, the figure of an exhausted Bayley, after 01.00 a.m., more than an hour upon completion of the show, at the post of his promised, free “meet & greet” session, can say it all, sincerely and effortlessly.
Blaze Bayley setlist:
Lord of the Flies
Sign of the Cross
Judgement of Heaven
War Within Me
Pull Yourself Up
Fortunes of War
When Two Worlds Collide
Como estais amigos
Man on the Edge
The Angel and the Gambler
Photos/videos: John Frangos