Blaze Bayley/Fury UK
Blaze Bayley has made no secret of the fact that he will play anywhere and everywhere, which is why we find him in a small Weston-Super-Mare club on a rainy Saturday night, touring on the back of the very well received “The Man Who Would Not Die” album. He may have once been the frontman for one of the biggest bands in the World, but Bayley has now come full circle, hawking a CD wherever he can, and making a lot of people happy in the process.
I say a lot, but tonight there's probably about 80 or so, with many predictably sporting Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane logos on shirts and jackets, as well as plenty of Blaze tour shirts making an appearance. Before the main man comes on, however, we are treated to a set by Manchester metalheads Fury UK (not Furyuk, which would be a confusing but slightly cool name). First impressions are good, as they pump out a lot of noise for a three piece. At the front of the stage are the Appleton brothers Chris and Luke, both long of hair and lean of body, both of whom succeed in making me feel old and fat. Thanks guys. Behind them, drummer Martin Mcnee keeps everything together well, although his beard is so long he's in permanent danger of getting his sticks caught in it. Regardless of my jealousy, Fury UK put on a hell of a good show. Chris is a pretty good metal singer, but really comes into his own when he switches from rhythm to lead guitar, plucking out some of the best solos I've seen for a long time. Musically, they remind me of early Metallica with a bit of Megadeth, but without copying either band in any way. There's a real old school feel to the likes of “Salvation”, or the title track to the forthcoming album “V.R” (free to download at www.furyuk.com), and on the basis of this gig I'll certainly be checking it out.
With Fury UK having warmed the crowd up nicely, it's good to have a quick changeover so that the mood doesn't dissipate. As the lights dim, Blaze Bayley walks on stage to address the crowd. “My name is Blaze Bayley,” he says, with a look on his face that suggests he would like to murder everyone here. “This is the Blaze Bayley Band. We Play Metal”. Unsurprisingly, this simple statement gets everyone going, and the band dutifully crank up some of the best British metal around, starting with the new album's rollicking title track, followed by the rant against record companies “Blackmailer”. This is the first time I've seen Blaze since his Maiden days and it's quite disturbing at times, as he seems to have a permanently crazed look on his face. This is a man who puts it all out there onstage for you to see, and if you don't like it say it to his face. Not that you would, obviously. I'm just glad to be enjoying myself, as I'd hate to be the one to give the scary bastard a bad review! Possible insanity aside, Blaze Bayley positively owns the stage, right up in the audiences face all the time (no barriers here), ramming home his songs with a fiery passion. He's a frontman of the Raise Your Fist & Yell school, and we are regularly encouraged to punch the air and go “Oi Oi Oi”, and if we don't he's not afraid to pick on an individual and bully them into joining in. Great fun. Maiden fans are kept happy with “Virus”, “Futureal”, “Man On The Edge” and an excellent version of “The Clansman” during which I got caught in a mosh – freedom my arse. The Wolfsbane fans went home unlucky, as Blaze is leaving that piece of hispast where it is for now, but he's got plenty of other material of his own, such as “10th Dimension”, “Smile Back At Death” and “Kill & Destroy”. It's all exceedingly heavy, helped out by a good sound mix and a very tight band, whilst Blaze's vocals are clear and powerful, as good as or better then he's ever been. I understand that this type of stuff can be love it or hate it material, and I'm glad to be in the former category. Between songs Blaze tells us all how brilliant we are, and how we can do anything, sort of like a tattooed fortune cookie, with the audience lapping it up. It's almost 2 hours until he finally decides to stop, closing with the excellent “Robot”, and nobody here feels short changed. This has been a night of stripped down heavy metal with no pretensions, played with passion and talent, and I'm glad I was able to catch it.
Review by Alan Holloway, alan "at" rockunited.com