Blaze Bayley // The Night That Wouldn’t Die
Rating: CD: 4.0/5.0 – DVD: 3.0/5.0 — A great live record, but a DVD that leaves some things to be desired
Label: Blaze Bayley Productions
Website: blazebayley.net | myspace.com/blazebayley
Blaze Bayley, for those who don’t know (where the hell have you been??) is the solo project of former Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden frontman of the same name. Honestly, this guy’s story is a true underdog story. To hear it told, he was the singer that no one wanted until he got picked up by Wolfsbane and then he was chosen to fill Bruce Dickinson’s shoes in Iron Maiden after Bruce decided he was too cool for the band. There was absolutely no way for him to win in that situation. A man with a baritone register filling Dickinson’s shoes is just ridiculous and everyone should’ve known better: but this reviewer humbly submits that X Factor is a classic record and that Virtual XI, while definitely weaker, was not weak because of Blaze, but instead because of Steve Harris’ writing and the very poor production. In fact, I’m still waiting for those two albums to be remastered.
“But how is this relevant” you may be asking yourself. Well, The Night That Will Not Die is a live record and, as such, knocks out the greatest hits from Blaze‘s underrated career. Opening with a shot, the band knocks out three great shots from from the self-released The Man Who Would Not Die and it pretty much sets the stage for the album to come. The songs on here are the songs that fans of the band have come to expect that they would get. The best of from Bayley’s BLAZE incarnation: “Stare at the Sun,” “Born as a Stranger,” “The Launch,” “Leap of Faith,” in short, pretty much all of the songs that I want to hear live. Mixed in, of course, are the Iron Maiden tracks, much-maligned by the average fan, but songs that are close to my heart. It was especially exciting to hear “Edge of Darkness” live, as that’s one of my favorite tracks from X Factor.
Finally, the band litters the album with tracks from the new album, including a track dedicated to Blaze’s late manager and significant other Debbie (“While You Were Gone”, a great track), who tragically died earlier in the year. As a fan, this was emotional for me as well, a dimension that suits the record well. While it’s not visible on the album, of course, you can see on the DVD that the show jumps up a notch when you get to the new material and the dedication. It heightens the feel of the record and, frankly, you can’t help a bit of sympathy for this man who has had some pretty hard knocks, out on the road trying to live up to her memory and the help that she gave him, when there are times when he probably wants nothing more than to sit in a dark room and mourn.
From a visual perspective, this DVD needs a lot of work. Shot with only two cameras, I just wonder if it really was best for the band to release this instead of just doing the live record. Live DVDs are tough to make interesting. Even highly funded DVDs, like the Amon Amarth 5-disc monstrosity, are boring in my opinion. To be totally honest, the only concert DVD I’ve ever seen that was really good is Iron Maiden‘s Rock in Rio. The comparison to Rock in Rio is absolutely impossible and totally unfair. Iron Maiden has the kind of money that Blaze Bayley, self-funding and pulling themselves up by their very metal bootstraps, simply could never have. But on that note, it might have been better to to avoid releasing a DVD and save that money for something else.
Therefore, this DVD has some limitations. The show is great, as stated, and aside from losing “The Launch” due to a giant cardboard cutout that some jackass was holding up in front of the camera, this show is pretty good! Blaze’s personal joy at doing this show is definitely fun to watch. The grin that breaks out on his face at times when he’s trying to pull some kind of metal face just demonstrates to me how much he loves what he does. It shows the kind of passion he’s got for this and he’s fun to watch.
Larry Paterson, the drummer (and apparently author of a bunch of books on German U-boats), is also very fun to watch. He seems to really be enjoying himself and is only upstaged by David Bermudez who is a fucking beast onstage. That guy is a total pro and he almost upstages the man himself! He is about as metal as it gets and it is really, really great to see that kind of energy and enthusiasm on stage. However, both guitarists need to step it the hell up. A lot of their stagecraft looked really forced and, frankly, like they were bored out of their minds for a good portion of the material. They did peak up a bit when they were playing the new material, so I guess part of it is probably that they don’t like being a “cover band,” but c’mon guys! It’s a damn DVD! Spice it up a little bit!
The final question for long-time fans of the band will be, of course, “does it live up to As Live As it Gets?” In it’s own way, definitely. I think the live record is definitely in the running. This is not the same band, and sure, they don’t have Andy Sneap in their pocket (a damn shame), but with the addition of the new songs this record is quite good and cohesive. As a fan, you should definitely pick it up because you won’t be disappointed. It also is a great way to showcase the new material to old fans, which I think is important. I know of many old fans who were so disillusioned by the crumbling of the old band that they didn’t even bother to check out The Man Who Would Not Die. This record definitely shows that the new material stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the older material, even if it isn’t the same band.
Frankly, this record makes me excited for a future for Blaze Bayley, which after the dissolution of BLAZE, I wasn’t looking forward to new material. But once again, and apparently thanks to the woman who this CD & DVD are dedicated to, Mr. Bayley is back in the saddle and knocking out good material. I await the new album, 2010 and to know what’s happened since we last left our hero…