Published on August 9th, 2012 | by Born Music0
Tony Martin’s Headless Cross — The Asylum, Birmingham (27/07/2012)
Special one-off career-celebrating date by Tony Martin’s Headless Cross with support from Blaze Bayley
Even before I entered the venue, I knew tonight was going to be special. I had received some fore-warning about the number of people travelling overseas to see Tony Martin when I interviewed him, but I did not really believe it until I arrived. People from Sweden, Italy, Luxembourg and Japan were all patiently waiting to enter, bringing home what a rare treat this was to be.
The show opened with a special acoustic set by Blaze Bayley of Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden fame. Really though, the guitarist accompanying Blaze, Thomas Zwisjen, deserved equal billing here, adding immensely to Blaze’s back catalogue with his complex classical arrangements. I highly recommend watching his Nylon Maiden videos on YouTube.
I was impressed, not to mention surprised; Zwisjen was Blaze’s co-writer on his recent solo album, which left me less than impressed. The album lacked Blaze’s usual magic, but it was in full force at the Asylum, working the crowd while Zwijsen’s focussed on his complex playing.
The duo ripped through Blaze’s solo, BLAZE, Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane material and a cover of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor”. The unplugged nature of the show gave it a lighter, less intense tone which altered Blaze’s usually dramatic demeanour; he joked with the crowd a lot, the highlight being qupis about performing “Man on the Edge” to shocked 13 year old girls when Iron Maiden played on Top of the Pops in 1995.
This show was more important to Tony Martin however, marking his first ever UK show as a solo artist, his only show anywhere in the world in 2012 and the debut of a new Headless Cross line-up.
Rather like Blaze with Thomas Zwisjen, there is more to the Tony Martin band than Mr. Martin himself and credit must be given to the other musicians who all have proud musical legacies of their own. Given most Tony Martin fans know him from his time in Black Sabbath (1986-1991 and 1993-1996), many fans recognised Quartz keyboardist Geoff Nicholls who played with Sabbath for over 20 years. Drummer Danny Needham is the current skinsman for Venom while Magnus Rosén spent a decade in HammerFall. Lastly there is Dario Mollo, with whom Tony Martin has collaborated on three albums under the name The Cage.
The two backline performers, Needham and Nicholls, performed their parts with utter precision, laying a solid foundation for Mollo, Rosén and Martin’s music to dance on top of. Needham and Nicholls have spent many years playing with Martin and seem very relaxed, knowing the set well.
A large slice of the set was Black Sabbath material, and I have never heard anyone play Tony Iommi’s riffs with as much flair and power as Dario Mollo, while Magnus Rosén plays a muscular, leading bass comparable to Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris. These are big names to compare these men to, but the praise is deserved.
Of course tonight was all about Tony Martin himself. Despite the rather serious tone at the start of the gig, where everyone was told not to take any pictures or video of the band at all (Martin told me in our interview that if people had pictures or videos of the gig on their phones he felt that it could impact sales of the upcoming live DVD of the gig), never have I seen a man enjoy performing as much as Tony Martin clearly enjoyed this show. Indulging in a fair bit of “Dad dancing” he had a blast on stage, not at all ashamed of relaxing in front of a crowd which included his own children.
Martin remained focussed though, with a pitch-perfect voice which shows why big names such as Black Sabbath, Cozy Powell and Phenomena have called on him over the years. The material spans his early Black Sabbath work, solo material and a number of other projects Martin has been involved in, all delivered with enthusiasm and power. Near tireless, after the show the musicians hosted an after-party for anyone who had booked their tickets through Tony Martin’s Facebook page. This was far more than anyone could have asked for from men who had just given one of the best performances this reviewer has ever seen.
Richard Warrell — words
Dave Timmins — photography
Blaze Bayley (acoustic)
- “Lord of the Flies” (Iron Maiden song)
- “The Launch” (BLAZE song)
- “The Truth Revealed” / “Meant To Be” (BLAZE songs)
- “Stare at the Sun” (BLAZE song)
- “I Like it Hot” (Wolfsbane song)
- “One More Step”
- “Man on the Edge” (Iron Maiden song)
- “Como Etais Amigos” (Iron Maiden song)
- “Doctor Doctor” (UFO song)
Tony Martin’s Headless Cross
- “Liar” (Phenomena song)
- “The Meaning of Evil” (Rondinelli song)
- “Scream” (Black Sabbath song)
- “Lost Forever” (Black Sabbath song)
- “Ancient Warrior” (Black Sabbath song)
- “Sweet Elyse”
Bass and guitar solos
- “Raising Hell”
- “Still in Love With You”
- “Oh My Soul”
- “Terra Toria”
- “Eternal Idol” (Black Sabbath song)
- “I Witness” (Black Sabbath song)
- “The Law Maker” (Black Sabbath song)
- “The Gates of Hell” / “Headless Cross” (Black Sabbath songs)
- “The Shining” (Black Sabbath song)