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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Blaze burns bright

BLACK Country rocker Blaze Bayley is best known for his time fronting Iron Maiden. He chatted to KARL STEEL ahead of his appearance in Kendal next week.

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BEING dropped by one of the biggest bands in the world would be a blow that few could recover from.

But for Blaze Bayley, his departure from heavy metal icons Iron Maiden back in 1999 has done very little to knock his confidence.

The defiant Brummie is still slaying audiences with his solo project and his old band Wolfsbane, selling out venues worldwide.

Next Thursday his European tour reaches Kendal and, speaking from Spain earlier this week, Bayley told Going Out what fans can expect from his new line-up.

He said: “I haven’t had a lot of good luck in keeping a band together so I am a solo artist and I find the musicians that I want to work with.

“This live band is the same band that appears on my new album, and it’s a real mix: we have three guys from Italy, one from Holland and then me from Birmingham.

“They’re all really great guys and absolutely top notch musicians – in terms of quality of musicianship, they’re definitely the best band I’ve had in the past 10 years.”

Bayley was a founder member of his hometown cult heroes Wolfsbane and remained with the band for a decade before being snapped up by Iron Maiden in 1994 to replace long-term vocalist Bruce Dickinson.

Fronting the chart-topping band was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down, but the fans never forgot Dickinson's departure and when he announced he was ready to return in 1999, Bayley was cast aside.

He could be forgiven for holding a grudge against his former bandmates, however he sees it as a high-point in his 30-year career, and material from his two studio albums with Iron Maiden – The X Factor and Virtual XI – still makes his live set today.

But he is by no means living in the past and in the 13 years since, his output has been nothing short of prolific: seven albums as a solo artist and with the now-reformed Wolfsbane, countless live CDs and DVDs and tours across Europe almost every year.

The latest tour, in support of last month’s The King of Metal album, has already visited most of the continent with the new material getting a good reception at each show.

Next week will be the first chance for UK fans to hear it live.

“It is a Blaze Bayley show, so it’s a lot of my solo stuff and the big songs from my Iron Maiden days,” he said.

“There won’t be any Wolfsbane songs because we’re still together as a band and you can go and see them live if you want.

“A lot of people know me for my Iron Maiden stuff, so there’s no reason for me not to play them. I do my own arrangements of songs like Man On The Edge and Futureal, and they always seem to go down well.

“We’re about halfway through the tour now, and the new stuff from The King Of Metal is also going down really well in Europe, and I hope that my UK fans like it too.”

When he plays Bootleggers in Kendal next week, he knows he will be in good company.

Although it is a relatively small venue compared to what he is used to it is one that Bayley is familiar with, having played there with his acoustic show last winter, and the backing of his loyal Cumbrian fanbase has led him to book in a Wolfsbane show there later this year.

He said: “I took my acoustic show there last year and I had such a good time that I wanted to go back.

“It’s a very small venue, but it’s a great area and I have got a lot of really loyal fans there.

“I’m going back there later in the year with Wolfsbane as well. In the old days we used to play a show in nearly every town on each tour, and Cumbria was always one place that I always enjoyed going.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all my fans up there because they’ve been so supportive to me over the years, and I’m looking forward to repaying them soon.”

l Blaze Bayley plays Bootleggers, in Kendal, next Thursday, May 3. Support comes from Southampton rock trio Deezil.

The show starts at 8pm and entrance is payable on the door.

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