Review by Hugh Spence for MPM
Its rare to have such a big act as Blaze Bayley play in a small town as Omagh but on this peaceful Sunday night things are about to get wild. With Bogan’s Bar packed to the rafters the show kicks off early at 7.25pm with Absolva storming the stage, who are pulling a double shift tonight as they are Blaze’s backing band, I don’t know where they get the energy from.
They kick off with Fire in the Sky from their most recent album of the same name, they continue to blast through their back catalogue with Anthems of the Dead and the incredibly catchy Never a Good Day to Die.
They bring energy and excitement to the crowd who are lapping up every minute of their set, creating a lot of new fans. The band are tight and professional from start to finish. They round off their set with Refuse to Die and From Beyond the Light, its a short set but a fantastic way to start the night.
After a quick 30 minute break and a breather for the Absolva lads before they are back on stage with the man himself, Blaze Bayley. As this is a 30th anniversary tour of when he joined Iron Maiden and created 2 of the most underrated Iron Maiden albums, we are guaranteed a setlist of classic songs.
When the intro for Lord of the Flies starts you can feel the electricity and excitement in the air, out comes Blaze and the crowd goes wild singing every word along with him, they then quickly follow up with Sign of the Cross and Judgement of Heaven, throughout every song the crowd are hanging on every perfectly sang note and riff.
Blaze is also an incredibly funny and intelligent man who has great banter with the audience and regales us with tales from his time in Iron Maiden, everything from meanings behind songs to how the recording and rehearsals went back in the day. The show continues with Fortunes of War and my personal favourite Maiden song Virus, all of which sounds amazing and fresh, words cannot describe my happiness.
Blaze continues by telling us about his career since leaving Iron Maiden and gives us a taste of his solo material by playing 3 songs off his most recent album War Within Me, kicking off first with Warriors then into War Within Me and finishing with Pull Yourself Up, all of which the crowd sang along with, so clearly a lot of people are familiar with his solo material and if they weren’t before this they certainly were now.
When Blaze talks between each song he fills the crowd with self confidence and reassurance that we all count and we all can achieve our dreams, very few people can do this but Blaze does while also belting out some absolute gems.
We then get back into the Maiden setlist with When Two Worlds Collide, Lightning Strikes Twice and the fan favourite The Clansman, songs you’ll not hear Iron Maiden themselves play but truly deserved to be played live to understand their brilliance.
As we grow closer to the end of the set Blazes tells us the story behind Como Estais Amigos and why its his biggest song and hearing it live sounds epic, they finish off with Man on the Edge and Futureal, the crowd has been eating out this mans hands the whole night and soaking up every note and singing it back as loud as they can. Enough can’t be said about the Absolva lads who didn’t miss a note or beat the entire night and if anything have made these legendary songs sound better than on the albums.
When the show ends, Blaze does what he always does, walks off stage, sits at the back of the venue and meets every single fan there, gets a photo with whoever wants one and signs whatever people want signed, all free, the man is an absolute gent who loves his fans and that is getting rarer and rarer in this day and age. I see lots of Absolva merch getting sold along with Blaze’s merch so its great to see new fans forming on this most special of nights.
Blaze is currently touring Ireland with a string of sold out shows in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick and two nights in Cork, so if your lucky enough to have a ticket you are in for one hell of a night. Blaze and Absolva will be touring around Europe all year with shows not to be missed and a few festival appearances too.
The new album Circle of Stone comes out on the 23rd February and from what I’ve heard already it’s set to be another classic.
Fire in the Sky
Anthems of the Dead
Never a Good Day to Die
Side by Side
Stand Your Ground
Refuse to Die
From Beyond the Light
Blaze Bayley Set:
Lord of the Flies
Sign of the Cross
Judgement of Heaven
Fortunes of War
War Within Me
When Two Worlds Collide
Lightning Strikes Twice
Como Estais Amigos
Man on the Edge
Pull Yourself Up
Photography by MPM – Voodoo Belfast