King Arthur’s Reign — Blind Guardian, Grave Digger Fall Tour Pays Homage to Legendary Ruler

Editor’s Note: My husband Brian writes his second post for The Stratton Setlist about the Sept. 20 Blind Guardian and Grave Digger show at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Mich.

King Arthur, the Once and Future King, briefly returned to the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Mich. on Sept. 20.

He didn’t come from England, but instead arrived from Germany accompanied by bards singing of his deeds. In this case, the bards were power metal bands Blind Guardian and Grave Digger.

Grave Digger's Axel Ritt, left, and Chris Boltendahl sing about Excalibur at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Mich.
Grave Digger’s Axel Ritt, left, and Chris Boltendahl perform at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, Mich.

Together, Blind Guardian and Grave Digger told their mystical King Arthur stories through power metal, a subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by melodies, speed and rousing choruses and lyrics inspired by fantasy, mythology and history.

It’s like taking the music of Iron Maiden or Dio from the early ‘80s and combining it with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Power metal flourished from these musical roots in the mid-1980s and has thrived in Germany and other European countries ever since.

Back in Pontiac, the night opened with Grave Digger, led by the charismatic Chris Boltendahl on vocals. Boltendahl took us through a setlist of songs that celebrated heavy metal culture, the rebellions of the Scots against the English, witches and hangmen.

Continue reading “King Arthur’s Reign — Blind Guardian, Grave Digger Fall Tour Pays Homage to Legendary Ruler”

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The End – Black Sabbath Tour Returns to the Beginning before Bidding Adieu

Editor’s Note: My husband Brian writes his first Stratton Setlist blog post about Black Sabbath’s final Detroit area show in Clarkston, Mich. Wednesday night.

Black Sabbath displays “The End” tour logo.

“Is it the end, my friend?” sang Ozzy Osbourne during the opening song of Black Sabbath’s final show in metro Detroit.

Sadly, it was the end, but it’s hard to say goodbye, especially to old friends. Six years ago, I had to say goodbye to Ronnie James Dio, and last year, I most likely said goodbye to Rush. And now it was time to say goodbye to Black Sabbath.

I’ve been a fan of Black Sabbath since middle school. My brother had introduced me to Led Zeppelin and Rush, and I loved them both, but Black Sabbath was the first band I had claimed as my own.

They felt like a secret that my friends and I shared, and we had fun exploring and debating the different lineups. Was Ozzy era Sabbath better, or the Dio material? What about the Tony Martin incarnation of the band?

The truth was I loved all the lineups. Black Sabbath was like a saga that kept going on and changing over time, and they never disappointed.

Continue reading “The End – Black Sabbath Tour Returns to the Beginning before Bidding Adieu”