Pick Your Rock and Metal

Monday, February 20, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: Setting the Diamond afire - Blaze Bayley rocks Ahoghill

TO many the time Blaze Bayley spent in Iron Maiden came at a most inopportune moment in rock music: the labels weren't backing metal bands to the extent they used to, and the tides of fortune had yet to see the return of heavier music's heyday.

However, they were still albums treasured in many people's collections, as well as the Wolfsbane releases. When Blaze Bayley left Maiden he shook off any disappointment, gathered himself and began a solo career that has not only earned plaudits, but see him battle back from personal tragedy and an indifferent mainstream metal media.

The fans, however, are ever loyal to a man who epitomises the no nonsense approach.

Before Mr Bayley took to the Diamond Rock Club stage local sc-fi/fantasy-tinged metal crew Terminus more than warmed up the heaving venue with a 45-minute no nonsense set. From the opener 'Reaper's Spiral' it was clear that they were intent on winning over new fans.

Indeed many Diamond newbies could be overheard muttering approval at the style of metal Terminus were pushing out. All of which is helped by the fact that the band are tight and deliver their set with precision and an obvious excess of energy.

James Beattie commands the front, his singing throughout spot on, as Paul and Gavin wove guitar lines to match the lyrics. 'Fortress Titan' was a highlight and the well earned response to closer 'Centaurean' raised the bar.

With all points near the stage packed, Blaze Bayley received what is easily understood as a rapturous response. Not only were there many fans there it was notable that many local musos were out in force.

Opening with 'Endure and Survive' from the forthcoming album of the same name the men backing Blaze seemed to be enjoying the experience as much as the audience.

Indeed the band has a feel of a real unit - compact, flourishing and a force to be reckoned with. Naturally the temperature soared when after 'A Thousand Years' they launched into 'Futurereal', and from then on it was a helter skelter ride that took the Diamond through songs were familiar to all; plus a bonus.

The first live outing for 'Escape Velocity' was as well received as any of the tracks, but most-of-all it was the way the set list was balanced throughout, with the back catalogue of his own material melding with Maiden songs.

Bracketing 'Lord of the Flies' with 'Speed of Light' and 'Stare at the Sun' gave all a chance to see how he has grown as a songwriter and performer, without losing that sense of where he came from.

Closing with the Wolfsbane track 'Manhunt' and 'Man On the Edge' had the crowd ecstatic, however, the show was only 95% of the success. The remaining five per cent came from the man's attitude on stage, his willingness to engage in banter, warmth oozing from his every pore.

Sure, the Diamond Rock Club may be a seeming million miles from Maiden, but that does not make it any less of a valid place to see a man who should be a rock icon held in high esteem. Whether with his own material or Blaze's venerable past he achieved a par excellence show in Ahoghill and gave the club a sense of belonging to a metal history that is no longer of the past, but sits in the present.

Blaze Bayley - a survivor, a singer and a superb live performer.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh


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