I think this was a landmark event for the Chicago/U.S. metal scene, for a few reasons:
First, the show was sold out. The Metro has a listed capacity of 1100, so that’s quite a turnout, especially for a German band playing their first-ever show here. It was quite a pleasant surprise when Iced Earth/In Flames sold out the same venue in April, but Blind Guardian/Symphony X repeating that feat is an even more amazing accomplishment. The day before, there was actually a pretty long article/interview with Hansi published in the Chicago Sun-Times (circulation: 500,000).
Also, Jon Schaffer came out and introduced Blind Guardian (and he said a bit more this time than he did at ProgPower). His appearance may seem like a small thing, but Jon was never introduced by name, and still most people knew exactly who he was. He’s also really good at doing the introduction, and got the crowd wound up in a matter of seconds. To me, that just shows a level of scene awareness and and genre popularity that would have been unheard of a few years ago. Maybe in the future this will become annoying, but for now it’s just kinda cool that things have gotten big enough to produce “celebrities”.
Finally, at the very close of the show, the band came back out on stage, and we were told that we were going to be the cover of an upcoming issue of Metal Maniacs. The band lined up facing the drum riser, and the crowd formed a big ol’ backdrop of devil horns behind them while we did a few takes.
So overall, everything came together last night to highlight just how far things have come since August 1997, when Iced Earth did their first U.S. tour, which was the thing that basically got this whole ball rolling. If there was such a thing as Heavy Metal stock, and if I had invested in it back in ’97, I think I’d be doing pretty well right now.
Oh yeah, and then there were the bands too…
Only saw one song of Twelfth Gate, sounded pretty good, kinda like Solitude Aeturnus to me.
I was rather surprised at the response to Symphony X, I didn’t realize that that many people were into them that strongly.
But then of course everyone was REALLY into Blind Guardian. I don’t think the singing was quite as loud as it was at ProgPower (not really surprising since ProgPower geeks are a lot more likely to sing than badass Chicago metalheads), but I think the overall level of excitement and appreciation was just as high. It’s cool that they’re mixing up the setlist, because this time I got to hear three songs they didn’t play at ProgPower: “Under the Ice” (one of my favorites off ANATO), “Harvest of Sorrow” (which I’d never heard in English before), and “Born in a Mourning Hall” (one of my favorite BG songs ever). Although if they would have just played “Lost in the Twilight Hall”, “Valhalla”, and “Lord of the Rings” again, I wouldn’t have complained about that either.
So yeah, it was a great night.
Next up, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, Yakuza, and Tub Ring, same place, same time, on Tuesday.