Iron Maiden - live in Denver
I went to see Iron Maiden tonight with a buddy. I'm an old school Maiden fan (from High school, almost 20 years ago). During the show, I realized pretty much everyone who is a Maiden fan is an 'old school' Iron Maiden fan. To be specific, the band hasn't done a great deal to interest me since Powerslave (especially after briefly replacing lead singer Bruce Dickenson). However, that may have been more a sign of me maturing (and getting into Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and the Beatles) than the band waning.
I saw them two years ago, and had to have $30,000 worth of knee surgery afterwards. No regrets. After health insurance it was only a few hundred bucks. On that tour, they were supporting the most comprehensive rock DVD set I own, 'The Early Years'. If you get all the way through this piece, and are nodding your head in agreement, you MUST buy this DVD set. Honestly, I'll personally offer a refund to any Maiden fan who doesn't find that set the best rock document ever! You can find me here, always.
Tonight, it was the original classic 80s line up. This means everyone original from the Bruce Dickinson years, plus a new guitarist to thicken up the live sound. The band kicked ass tonight as I expected they would. Just before the show, I was next to a dude in line at the beer stand who told me something interesting (after he explained this was his 16th Iron Maiden show). He said the band was playing only the first four albums of material this tour.
So far this tour was all Ozzfest dates. What was more interesting to me about his comment was knowing that the first 2 Maiden albums had a totally different lead singer, Paul Di'anno. Can you imagine Sammy Hagar coming on stage with Van Halen and saying "I am only playing Roth tunes this tour"?
Dude was right, though. The show was very heavy on early material, and didn't even broach 'Powerslave'. The closest they got was the amazing and absolute phenomenal Maiden classic 'Revalations' from Piece of Mind.
So, they didn't touch all the hits I expected, but I got goodies in return. I remember saying to my buddy Jason before the show even started "If they are going to go straight early Maiden, then I wanna hear Phantom of the Opera". It is my favorite song of the Di'anno years, which I have never heard live. It was a good hour into the show before it turned up, but it made the night worthwhile. We also got the perennial masterpiece 'Number of the Beast".
My trainer at the gym (yes, this is how 33 year olds rock) is a big Jesus freak. I can't imagine what his response would have been as the 30 foot stage lights read '666' while the crowd pledged their satanic allegiance. He would have shit himself, and maybe that's I why I still love rock and the spectacle of all this.
In fact, I think half the fun of a show like this is imagining how much it would absolutely terrify my Jesus loving weight trainer... or that psycho fucknut James Dobson would think (in between white power rallies). Before I leave you, there are a couple more points I want to make. You may know that I just saw Motley Crue the other night at Red Rocks. It is inevitable to make a comparison. The facts are these, the Crue are fun. Just fun... like a vice. The Crue couldn't hold a musical candle to Maiden. As I commented to my buddy with me, you could tape 5 Motley Crue's together and get half the talent of Maiden. I guess I am the only one who saw it that way, as Crue tickets were $75 and Maiden tickets were $15.
The last point I want to make on Maiden is that it is critical to know bassist Steve Harris. In essence, the band is Steve Harris and his backup band. Steve writes all the songs and the lyrics, and is the only original band member from way back when (like, late 70s). Sonically, he drives the band. The only analogy I could make to bass player that dominant in the group dynamic would be the late Cliff Burton of Metallica.
In closing, I'd said that even if you weren't big fan of the Crue... you would have a great show. This is not the case with Iron Maiden. The songs are complex and strange and mostly warcries of violence. However, as someone who has seen almost every single band in the history of rock, Iron Maiden is unparalleled at the top of metal.
The band is out on Ozzfest right now promoting 'The Essential Iron Maiden'. I just got a copy of the disc this afternoon, and promise a review. I wasn't able to listen too much though, since I already bailed out of work two hours early to see Maiden. Good think my boss doesn't follow the metal scene, eh? Since you are still reading, I should mention that Dickinson mentioned they had finished a new disc of new material which will be out early next year... and they will tour behind it.
update - the band got kicked off the Ozzfest tour. Sharon Osbourne and Bruce Dickinson really don't care a great deal for each other. The story is pretty funny. Sharon turned off Maiden's PAs while they were playing and started insulting Dickinson from the side of the stage over the whole sound system. Something about Dickinson being a total dick. Rock lives!