Blind Guardian / Leaves’ Eyes Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - November 14

"Courteous” and "folky” aren’t typically the first words that spring to mind when describing a German heavy metal concert, but they fit for this particular shindig. Early on, three fans were spotted by the merchandise booth wearing a chain mail helmet, a medieval peasant’s outfit and a lusty wench get-up, respectively. The rest of the 20-something T-shirted hordes (sporting every logo from Dream Theater to Therion to Manowar) hailed red silk-clad Norwegian singer Liv Kristine and her Teutonic cohorts when Leaves’ Eyes opened with keyboard-laden numbers "Ocean’s Way” and "Into the Light.” Kristine’s husband, designated growler Alexander Krull, proved his metal fealty by thrashing a mane of hair that evidently hasn't been cut since 1983. His enthusiastic banter included remarks like, "Show your horns!” and "Canada is a really beautiful country!” Next, Blind Guardian proceeded to lay down the law of epic giganticness with an hour and 45 minutes of pure medieval majesty, a figurative slap in the face to the lame latte-sippers outside in the Vancouver rain. Lead vocalist Hansi Kursch, modelling an Aragorn-meets-Kid Rock ’do, struck poses in front of a video screen backdrop, mingling shocking screams with his characteristic operatic tenor. The packed floor erupted when the black-garbed sextet kicked into the Tolkien-esque "Nightfall,” with images of spiders and statues flashing. Kursch asked the faithful to be "patient and careful” whilst crowd-surfing. The adrenaline kicks came from André Olbrich's fluid guitar soloing on "Script For My Requiem” and rhythm axe man Marcus Siepen’s charging power on "Valhalla.” But the most telling moment came during the encore, when a simple acoustic rendition of "The Bard’s Song” had the crowd bellowing along in pure brotherhood. "Consider yourself bards!” Kursch triumphantly intoned after the last note faded, and that exhortation somehow seemed more palatable than the average politician’s pitch.