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Various Artists - Blind Guardian Open Air 2003 - The Festival Report

Blind Guardian Open Air was a one time experience festival with "guess who", as the headliner two days in a row. Before the event the fans of the band had been asked which songs they wanted to hear, and there was a huge poll at the Blind Guardian Web site some months earlier. I had completely forgotten which songs were to be played live, I was just looking forward to two days of Heavy Metal and one of my favourite bands.


I hooked up with fellow Blind Guardian fan, Nina in Copenhagen and we got on the train to Malmö. There we met up with the guys from Sweden Rock Magazine, who had rented some Mini buses to take us to the festival site 14 hours away... The trip down to the festival was an experience in itself. Nina and I were pretty much the only ones who drank beer on the bus, and when we finally got the driver to put on a Manowar compilation, there was no stopping us. Soon we couldn't move without the sound of empty beer cans on the floor drowning out the music from the stereo. We had a blast. Finally we got to the Festival ground around 4 in the morning, got our tickets and were told in the nicest terms to "Fucking clean up the car!"


After a little sleep it was time to check out the festival grounds, and soon we found the extremely nice Beer Garten, where the beers were served in specially made Blind Guardian cups! Nice!

After that we spent most of the afternoon trying to find the advertised Geldautomat. It turned out that it wasn't actually there, but we finally found one a little walk from the festival grounds. We later spoke to one desperate guy who had to take a cab to the nearby town just to get some money.

After buying the obligatory Blind Guardian Festival shirt we got back to the tents, and started sharing the rest of my Dooley's and Nina's Baily imitation... It should be said that the festival site was no ordinary site with fields everywhere, no, this was more like a field in the middle of a little town, with houses all around the camping site. It wasn't long before we noticed some good music coming from one of the houses, and we went to check it out. It turned out to be a practicing room for some band, and they were all partying like crazy. After blowing up the room with some Manowar, the party suddenly went dead like shot in the head, and I noticed that it was almost time for Grave Digger...

Damn, I missed both Iron Savior and Brainstorm! I had lost Nina to some unfortunate incident and headed down to get a good spot for the Grave Digger show. This concert was totally cool, and everyone up front were having a great time. By the time they played "Rebellion (The clans are marching)" I was in a heavenly state of mind, and went completely bananas with the fellow Metalheads that were there. Chris Boltendahl is a very charismatic guy on the stage and his voice is extremely powerful live. Another highlight was the killer version of "Knights of the cross".

After the Grave Digger concert it was time for a change of shirt as the one I was wearing was drenched. So I went back to the tent, grabbed a beer and headed back for the highlight of the day... Blind Guardian!

As the first sounds of "War of the Wrath" introduced the show, I knew this was going to be special. Blind Guardian on a huge stage with thousands of fans singing along to every song and having fun. The first thing I noticed was that the production and sound was perfect. The sound was so perfect, and at the right volume, that for the first time in years, I didn't have to wear earplugs. Describing this concert with simple words is impossible for me, you had to be there, sorry. But let me tell you this, it was fantastic! By the end of "And then there was silence" I had to leave the middle of the crowd and head to one of the vendors for some water. I enjoyed the rest of the concert from afar, in fact it was even better than standing in the middle of the crowd. Now there was time to notice all the little details that went on on the stage. The band was in an extremely good mood and several cameras were flying around capturing the show for the upcoming DVD.

The following was the set list for the first night (Not sure every song is in the right order)

War of Wrath
Into the Storm
Welcome to Dying
The Script for my Requiem
Lord of the Rings
Theatre of Pain
I'm Alive
Run for the Night
The Soulforged
Mordred's Song
And Then there was Silence
The Bard's Song - In the Forest
Imaginations from the Other Side

Punishment Divine
A Past and Future Secret
Journey through the Dark
The Piper's Calling
Somewhere Far Beyond
Mirror Mirror

Every song was a highlight in itself, as the band performed with huge energy, and played like I've never seen them before. It's very hard to pick highlights from a show where nothing was wrong, but I'm alive, Majesty, The soulforged, Run for the night, The script for my requiem, A past and future secret and Imaginations from the other side stand out in my mind as truly spine chilling. I was in heaven, so to say... And just knowing that tomorrow it would all happen again was indeed a great feeling.

After the show I set the path for the camping grounds, only making a stop to get the first food of the day. Even though the vendor was selling my Wacken favourite, "Schnitzel im brot" I decided to go all the way and get the Bratwurst!

Back at the camp we held a party with some guys from the bus, and a very happy and drunk Dutch guy. I was amazed that this guy knew all the words to every Manowar song, and we partied for some hours, probably keeping most of the camping ground awake with our "singing". He was also a very big Wizard and Sacred Steel fan, which impressed Nina a lot! If you are out there man, I hail you!

I didn't really want to go to sleep, as my tent had been invaded by an army of ants the night before. But I was tired enough not to think too much of it. That was until the next morning when I awoke as something was tickling my neck. By now the ants had located my pack of biscuits and were happily carrying them away to their nest, which I could only assume was directly beneath my tent... It got to the point that whenever I tried to lift something from the floor of the tent a hundred ants scrambled beneath my air mattress... I just decided to give up and get drunk instead.


The weather was perfect and Nina and I decided to head down to the beer garten for some breakfast... Luckily the guy grilling the big sausages was right there, and I had another of the classic "Bratwurst im brot". Here's an interesting food anecdote for those who haven't been to a German Metal festival before; Whatever you want to buy you can be sure that it comes with "im brot" attached. And this bread has to be some of the dry'est and most dehydrated bread, I have ever tasted. If you dropped it in a toilet by accident and then flushed, it would probably suck up all the water and plug the toilet forever... Nina decided to throw away the bread, and just eat the sausage like an Ice cream. That certainly got some very funny looks form the passers by, and I couldn't help but wish that I had my camera...

It was around this time that we made the fortunate discovery of the Jack Daniels saloon on the festival grounds. This bar kept me away from many of the concerts of the day. It was the perfect place to hang out and meet new people.

Well, suddenly it was time to catch Freedom Call. They put on a good show, but they were not as good as when I saw them in Copenhagen a few years ago. Maybe it was because of the many new songs they played. I missed many classics from their first two albums. The new songs are just a little too simple to really get me going. Still the show included some great songs like "Freedom Call" and the band gave it all they could, even if vocalist Chris Bay overloadeded his voice a few times. The energy and happy vibe was there through the show and affected the audience.

After Freedom Call we headed back to the Saloon for another drink, and there we met some more interesting people. Among others were the extremely drunk singer from Tankard, who looked like he had had one too many "Frei beers". He went straight to the bar, ordered a drink and bottomed it at once. Respect! Then he hung out at the bar the rest of the evening...

By now Primal Fear were getting ready to go on stage, and as usual they delivered a powerful concert. I can't help but be amazed at how fantastic and strong Ralf Scheepers' voice is. When he starts screaming you better find those earplugs. Well, Primal Fear was a good warm up to get in the right mood for what would happen later. I was especially happy when they played my old favourite Silver & Gold. Brilliant!

The rest of the evening we hung out at the Jack Daniels Saloon and partied with with a lot of German guys who showed up and wanted to sing Manowar tunes and other funny things. I also said hi to the guys from Freedom Call, who turned out to be just as nice, as they look happy on stage.

Finally it was time for Blind Guardian's second appearance and again they didn't let me down. "War of the Wrath" opened the show again, but this time the band continued into "Time stand Still". Then from out of nowhere we were treated to a fantastic powerful version of "Banish from Sanctuary". Ahh, that was fantastic. The concert continued to grow in magnificence through songs like Nightfall, Harvest of sorrow, Time what is time, The last candle and of course And then there was silence. I was completely stoked at how fantastic the band's performance sounded. It held so much emotion and energy. After each song, everyone in the audience were singing the chorus to Valhalla and just couldn't be stopped. The band was clearly moved by this. By the time they played The Bard's song - In the forest, I was in tears. Whether it was the god-like performance, the enthusiastic audience or just the sheer volume of what was happening, I cannot say, but this was a powerful experience that will stay with me forever. Finishing off the concert with songs like Lost in the twilight hall, Another holy war and ...And the story ends made the whole event feel complete. Total perfection!

This is the setlist of the second evening, probably not in the correct order:

War of Wrath
Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill)
Banish from Sanctuary
The Script for my Requiem
Harvest of sorrow
Under the Ice
Time What is Time
Born in a Mourning Hall
The Last Candle
Bright Eyes
And Then there was Silence
The Bard's Song - In the Forest
The Bard's Song - The Hobbit
Imaginations from the Other Side

Lost in the twilight hall
Lord of the Rings
Another Holy War
And the Story Ends
Mirror Mirror

After the show Nina and I went back to the Jack D. Saloon to party the rest of the night. The guys from Freedom Call were still there, so we hung out with them for a while, along with some of the other German friends we'd met. Finally the security closed the saloon down and kicked us out. The Freedom Call guys even invited us to stay and party, but the security staff were non-negotiable and promptly threw us out... Damn!

Heading back to the camping grounds we were still in a party mood, so we ran over to the first camp, where we heard music and started banging our heads in union. Luckily the guy with the huge stereo was a Manowar fan, and for several hours I spent the rest of my voice singing all the classics. This guy was a real monster dude with a great taste in music, and he kept on putting classic cd's on his huge stereo until finally we had to move on.

After this event we crashed a party in the nearby building. Music was coming from one of the rooms, so we took the stairs and headed for the door the music was coming from. Entering the room we were greeted with a sad sight. Four guys and their girlfriends were sitting in a couch sleeping while Kiss was blasting on the stereo. We gave an impromptu performance of "Rock'n Roll all night" and then decided the best thing we could do probably was to leave. Unfortunately we couldn't find the handle on the door, and had to ask for help from one of the guys who had woken up. That was the weirdest door I have ever seen...

After this eventful day I got back to my tent and tried to sing a goodnight song for all the ants I knew were in there, but it worked too good and I fell asleep promptly.

When I awoke I had 15 minutes before the Sweden Rock magazine bus drove us home, and all the Swedes were pretty much ready to go, so I thought I'd better start packing. Nina fortunately hadn't started either, so once again we were the last ones.

By now the Swedish bus driver had lost all hope for us, and even accused us of putting a bag of trash in the back of the bus. It turned out that it was in fact Nina's sleeping bag...

I left my tent behind as the ants had by now taken to it as their second home, and I didn't dare to import these ferocious German ants back into Denmark. Mental note: Always check for ant nests before setting up the tent...

We spent most of the drive home planning how I should join a knitting club to make my own Manowar jersey with a cool embroidery. Yes, you should probably have been there...

This was the weekend of a lifetime, and I am very happy that I got to be a part of it. Blind Guardian have confirmed my undying trust in them, as being a band that always delivers, and always stays true to themselves. I hail you guys!

Written By Steen
Online: Friday, June 20, 2003
Updated: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - Added the old article to the site


Legacy Comments

Friday, June 20, 2003 - Steen

A couple of quotes from the festival which didn't really fit in the report: The Swedish Bus driver, after Nina threw her sleeping bag on the bus: "Seriously, is that a bag of trash?" After discovering the incredible concept behind the Masterplan debut album: "Is it a bird?... Is it a plane?... No it's The Masterplan!" After a close scrunity of the cover of the new Blind Guardian Live CD: "That creature down there looks like Gollum... Hey! That's Blind Gollum!"

Saturday, June 21, 2003 - Nina

Hehe, Steen, you're a crazy guy! I bet these last commets didn't make sense to most readers, but these sure were some funny moments! Thanks for a great trip!

Monday, June 23, 2003 - gandi

I know that dutch guy, he drove with me to and back home from holland.. and he was indeed with a girl called nina :) LOL