Blind Guardian on patrol
Blind Guardian and satis&fy are no strangers. We’ve backed the prog-rockers from the Lower Rhine since 2003. satis&fy’s Andreas Fiekers, who’s been riding the band’s lighting console faders since 1998, was on board back then and is now on his fifth world tour with this outfit. At the time, satis&fy had the privilege of providing lighting and sound when the band recorded a live DVD at a festival gig. Martin Heuser, who today heads up our Lighting/Rigging unit, helped Andreas program the desk. The DVD was a success; satis&fy has furnished lighting and/or video support for every German tour ever since. And in 2010, we started providing the full support package.
Blind Guardian’s approach is atypical; no other artist served by satis& fy tours quite like this. Although the band only hits the road every four years, it stays out there around 18 months, playing something like 120 gigs around the globe. Its six musicians rely on a Traveling relatively light We’re using the available PA systems on this tour. As for the rest, we carry everything we need to the shows, including a 48-track hard disk recorder to capture material for a new live album at every gig. We also have a special modular lighting package that scales to fit everything from small clubs to big venues. The local lighting and satis&fy’s custom-built set pieces referencing the new album cover’s artwork also figure prominently.
Blind Guardian’s permanent crew stayed on board for the entire European tour. For the big gigs in Germany, satis&fy furnished the sound and lighting systems and two light and sound technicians. A warm-up act opened the first 20 gigs, so the convoy for the initial leg consisted of three semi-trailers and two night-liners carrying 34 people, including merchandisers and tour management. The contingent for the second leg was pared down to 19 people traveling with one truck and one bus.
There are no toll barriers within the EU, but officials in Turkey, Serbia, Switzerland, and Norway want to see a carnet documenting all the gear that enters and leaves the country. satis&fy’s Transport unit handles all the red tape, so clearing customs is a piece of cake.
And on we go Blind Guardian toured Australia and Japan in June and will be heading to South and Central America in September. Then it’s off to the USA and Canada on October 24 to play 23 shows coast to coast in four weeks before returning to Germany. Now where was that again?
Blind Guardian had a point to prove: Hard on the heels of the January release of the new album ‘Beyond the Red Mirror’, the combo set out to deliver the brace of songs they recorded so well in the studio with equal aplomb on stage at places as near as their hometown of Krefeld and as far flung as Minsk, Sydney and Vancouver. The European leg alone was a grueling trek with 42 shows in 22 countries. That takes some serious stamina and a seasoned stage crew with the chops to get the show going no matter how tight the timing or great the distance between gigs. Our man on Blind Guardian’s mission is Andreas Fiekers. On board since 1998, Andreas has a deep well of experience to draw on.
Photos: Hans-Martin Issler