at the Viper Room, Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2024

BLAZE BAYLEY (Live at the Viper Room, Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2024)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

A year ago, just a few days before starting his 30th-anniversary tour of his Iron Maiden era, Blaze Bayley suffered a heart attack, which could have proven fatal if not for the rapid intervention of the paramedic. He had then to undergo a quadruple heart bypass surgery.

But if Blaze Bayley truly is one thing, he is a fighter. He could not let this keep him off the stage for too long. So with a new album under his belt, probably one of the very best efforts of his whole career, he’s back on the road in Europe to defend Circle Of Stone.


The Viper Room in Vienna, Austria, is one of these (literally) underground venues of modest size but that makes the live experience all the more intimate. Packed with excited fans, the evening was off to a promising start with opening band Absolva. And it’s not because they’re also Blaze Bayley’s musicians who double their shift for the evening, that their melodic Heavy Metal should be overlooked.

Led by the Appleton brothers on the guitars and vocals, Karl Schramm on the bass and Martin McNee behind the drums, the band has already released six albums in twelve years. With an infectious good mood, they shredded their way through their discography. Luke Appleton is already an accomplished vocalist on his own, but the chorus got even more catchy with the help of his bandmates, like on “Never A Good Day To Die.”

The title track of their 2018 album Side By Side is another highlight of their set. To warm up for the main event, the audience happily lent their voices to the chorus of “Refuse to Die.”

If you are a fan of Melodic Metal proving that guitar heroes are still very much alive, Absolva is a must-listen-to. 

Blaze Bayley

It’s probably not by chance that Blaze started his set with the song “Alive” from his 2004 album Blood And Belief. The frontman is as impressive as ever and in great vocal form, considering his latest trials. Still, behind his usual act, there seemed to be a sense of restraint, needed to maintain some endurance throughout the show. The beginning of the set centred around the ideas of survival and resilience with two titles from his 2021 album “Warrior” and “War Within Me.” 

Blaze also took some time to explain his recent health misadventure to his fans as an introduction to “Pull Yourself Up,” both a great song and an inspirational moment. This show was the occasion to present to the audience the brand new songs from the album Circle Of Stone. Each of the new titles was brought up to a whole new level – hopefully, a live album of this tour will be released!

The title track was of course a memorable moment!  While the album version with Niklas Stålvind’s voice is a killer track, the live rendition was even more haunting and eerie. The fans also eagerly awaited “The Path Of The Righteous Man” and for good reasons. “A Day Of Reckoning” is the kind of song to give you goosebumps!

It was almost a shame that the whole new album could not fit into the setlist. But a few Iron Maiden songs were to be expected. With a bit of humour, Blaze introduced “Lightning Strikes Twice” by saying that the audience had no choice but to sing as the chorus was not sustainable for just one singer without running out of breath.

While Blaze is a tremendous frontman, his musicians also shine with their precision. Behind the drums, Martin McNee never seems to miss a beat. On the lead guitar, Chris Appleton took every opportunity to launch into lightning-fast soli, up to the point his strap unfastened (which did not stop him either).

In a high-spirited mood, the show ended with “Man On The Edge” and “Futureal.”

Final Notes

Blaze Bayley might not yet have recovered his full strength but that doesn’t stop him and his band from delivering the best of Metal shows: friendly, honest, powerful and epic. The first leg of the European tour is over, but Blaze and Absolva will continue touring in April, May and this summer, so be sure to support them!

Absolva – setlist 

  1. Fire In The Sky
  2. Anthems To The Dead
  3. Never A Good Day To Die 
  4. Fistful Of Hate
  5. Side By Side
  6. Stand Your Ground
  7. Code Red
  8. Refuse To Die 
  9. From Beyond The Light

Blaze Bayley – setlist

  1. Alive 
  2. Ten Seconds
  3. Warrior
  4. War Within Me
  5. Pull Yourself Up
  6. The Call Of The Ancestors
  7. Circle Of Stone
  8. Rage
  9. A Day Of Reckoning
  10. The Path Of The Righteous Man
  11. Lightning Strikes Twice
  12. Mind Reader
  13. When Two Worlds Collide
  14. Stare At The Sun
  15. Man On The Edge
  16. Futureal 


Blaze Bayley – Vocals 
Karl Schramm – Bass 
Martin McNee – Drums 
Luke Appleton – Guitars
Chris Appleton – Guitars (and vocals for Absolva)


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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