The music business may have done its best to keep him down but he’s here, and he’s still a professional musician – and he never stops telling you how much he is enjoying that job.
Tonight is a Blaze show with a difference though, as he is playing acoustic along with a player he introduces as Thomas Svensson.
The last time RTM saw Blaze live was just before Christmas last year, at which point he announced that he was going to stop focusing on his Iron Maiden output. It is disappointing then that tonight’s show begins with “Lord Of The Flies” and takes in three other Maiden songs – although he did at least include “Como Estais Amigo” as one.
RTM makes no secret that our favourite band is Iron Maiden (look at our backdrop for goodness sake) but Blaze’s solo stuff is so strong (notwithstanding the patchy new album “King Of Metal”) that it be lovely to see him play that exclusively.
He raids Wolfsbane for a cheery “I Like It Hot” and closes things with a sing-a-long “Doctor Doctor,” and like always you can’t fail to like the fella and wish him all the success in the world.
From the off there is a different, less carefree vibe to Tony Martin’s set. In mitigation the show is being filmed, but RTM was a little disappointed that he was charging people to meet him after the gig (it’s the Asylum, not Wembley) and also that he chose to go through a list of rules before the gig including no cameras and phones. It seems a little over the top for what essentially was a club gig.
However, it’s a club gig that has been – says Martin – three months in the planning and represents his first ever solo gig on these shores. And one for which he has assembled a pretty stellar cast including Venom drummer Danny Needham, former Hammerfall bass man Magnus Rosen, Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls and guitarist Dario Mollo (who plays with Martin in The Cage project).
Martin promised some surprises and the opening song is certainly unexpected as the band kick off with “Liar” from the Phenomena collective that he was part of in the 1980s and followed with “The Meaning Of Evil” a song he recorded as part of Rondinelli.
But its Sabbath that Martin is most famous for fronting as he did in the late 1980s and early 1990s and most of the set is made of Sabbath songs, “Dying For Love” “Lost Forever” and “Ancient Warrior” are first up, before its back to Martin’s solo stuff for the rock n roll influenced “Sweet Elyse.”
Things rather lose momentum at this point as both Rosen and Mollo get solo spots, but when Martin does return its to play a couple of songs from The Cage albums that sound superb – “Terra Torria” – easily the heaviest song of the night is particularly impressive.
More Sabbath follows the pick of these is “Eternal Idol” (which the singer brands the “eternal idiot”) and “The Law Maker” before its encore time. “The Headless Cross” is anthemic and celebratory and things end with “The Shining.”
And yet just when you are ready to proclaim a surprisingly fine night, Martin manages to end things on a sour note. Spotting someone filming the gig on a mobile he takes it from the audience member and appears to be extremely upset, growling: “I told you not to do this.” *** before a terse “thanks, people” and he’s gone.
It was a totally unnecessary end to what was an excellent gig. Martin would do well to remember the humbleness of his support act, but he was off to a signing session he was charging £6 for, so probably didn’t care.