Wednesday September 4th, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to photograph Demons & Wizards. Working with SkullsNBones has been a blessing, and I’m so glad that they had given me the opportunity to join up and contribute my photography to their online publication.
I’ve been a fan of this collaboration between Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth) since 1999 when they released their first album. For almost twenty years, I regularly listened to the two albums that they released (doing the inevitable singalong in my car), always wanting to see them perform live. I was not disappointed AT ALL with their performance! You would have thought that they had been non-stop touring since their inception with how incredibly tight they were!
Now, I’ve been following these guys for a while, and I really like their music, so seeing them was an absolute treat! With their Viking and Mythology based Folk Metal, they really absorb you into their music. I was thoroughly impressed with how tightly they played. You could hear it in the music that they were giving 100% of their passion to the crowd, and that always keeps the crowd drawn into their music and performance. I briefly spoke with the singer, Heri, after the show, and he let me know that they were coming back to the states at the beginning of next year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that!
Admittedly, I never really listened to them, so I could never pass judgement on their music. They’ve been bringing their variety of rock/metal to the world since 1983, so they’re definitely doing something right. When they hit the stage, they immediately showed that they’d been doing this a while, since they were musically flawless. When Lizzy himself set foot on stage, she was fully costumed up, and wearing an entirely over the top spiked outfit (complete with a massive codpiece!) and a silver skull mask. They were fun to watch, as Lizzy changed his wardrobe slightly from song to song. The band had a great deal of energy on stage, which made the show entertaining to watch.
Well, I’m not sure what to say here that I hadn’t said. Having the opportunity to Photograph Demons & Wizards was beyond my wildest dreams! I’ve been a fan of both Blind Guardian and Iced Earth for more years than I can count, and back in 1999 when Jon and Hansi teamed up to create Demons and Wizards (subsequently releasing their debut album in 2000), I got more excited than a kid getting everything he wanted for Christmas. From that moment on, their debut album was in permanent rotation for my listening pleasure. Five years later, they released Touched by the Crimson King, which was an even heavier album than the first!
Their live set was impeccable, and contained excellent selections of songs from BOTH albums, as well as a couple of Blind Guardian songs (Welcome to Dying & Valhalla) and a couple of Iced Earth songs (Burning Times & I Died for You). Obviously, in typical Blind Guardian fashion, the crowd kept singing the chorus to Valhalla even after the song ended.
They opened their set with Rites of Passage/Heaven Denies and closed it out with the very dark, yet beautiful Fiddler on the Green. From start to finish, this was undoubtedly one of the tightest performances I’d ever witnessed, and I’m so glad that I not only got to see it, but I had the honor of photographing it.