My first concert of 2008 was last Friday night…..IRON MAIDEN!!!!
Not a bad way to start the concert season. I had been planning to go to the show for months but I never picked up a ticket. Money has been tight lately so a $75+ ticket for Maiden seemed excessive so I waited until the week before the show to grab my seat. I had been checking Ticketmaster weekly to see what kind of seats were still available, mostly grass lawn. The view from the lawn has been awful since the Comcast Center (formerly Tweeter Center and Great Woods before that) put actual seats on the lawn area, now the general admission section is just a waste of time. So about a week before the show I hit up Ticketmaster and found a single seat in Section 1, Row S, Seat 18 for around $75 total…..done!
I went up to the Comcast a little early because I knew the show sold well (Maiden always do in New England) and I didn’t know if there would be a long wait at the call window. No line, no waiting…..got my ticket and went over to the merchandise stand for a shirt. Most of the tour shirts were $35 but I need the fat size (2XL) because I’m a little out of shape so that cost $40. Nice tour shirt, has the front cover of the new greatest hits and all the countries on the back. There were some really nice trinkets there: Maiden soccer scarves, soccer jerseys for $125, a couple of pricey shirts over $50 and the usual assortment of tourbooks, keychains, and posters. I’m a KISS fan and they hit the fans with a wide array of goods that are not always of good quality and use. I’ve been a Maiden fan since the early days and I’m only now realizing what a true marketing goldmine the band has with the Iron Maiden logo, Eddie, and quality products…..people were buying 1, 2, even 3 shirts at a time because of the different Eddies.
Next on the pre-show agenda was to meet up with Justin and the crew from Raise Your Fists!. Found the guys easily and I joined them for some beer and BBQ in the parking lot. Very nice to meet everyone, forgive me for not remembering all the names! These four guys are hardcore Maiden fans: two of the gents flew in for the show (one from Texas, one from California) and the foursome made their way from Boston an hour away. Obviously seasoned veterans at travelling to Maiden shows, the itinerary for this tour included some of the guys attending shows in L.A., New Jersey, Texas, & Mexico! Now that’s cool! Makes my trips around the Northeast following KISS look like a walk in the park! So after having a good time outside the arena, everyone went in. The Raise Your Fists! crew were in the pit in front of the stage (lucky bastards!) but I wasn’t more than 4 rows behind them, good seats all around.
First up was Lauren Harris, Steve Harris’ daughter. She opened with a cover of UFO’s ‘Natural Thing’…..very nice. The music was basically female fronted Hard Rock and Lauren gave a spirited performance. Aside from the UFO cover, I didn’t know any of the material but if I find her debut disc for a cheap price, I’ll check it out. One thing about Lauren Harris…..she’s hot! Clad in a black tanktop, painted on black leather pants, and barefoot…..this chick was smokin’ hot! She could have sang the telephone book and I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off her! High energy, good effort, on to dad’s band…..
Iron Maiden took the stage after their usual intro – UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’. The stage set was Powerslave themed with rotating backdrops (depending on the album), a moving lighting truss, and Eddie in his Powerslave & Somewhere In Time themes. My seat was on the right side of the stage in front of the riser/ramp that Bruce runs around on, I’d say I was about 25 feet from the stage with a perfect close view. Here’s the setlist:
- Intro – Churchill’s Speech
- Aces High
- 2 Minutes To Midnight
- The Trooper
- Waysted Years
- Number Of The Beast
- Can I Play With Madness
- Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
- Heaven Can Wait
- Run To The Hills
- Fear Of The Dark
- Iron Maiden
- The Clairvoyant
- Hallowed Be Thy Name
Now it goes without saying that the band played flawlessly, even if they made a mistake or their performance was off, I would have never known because I was having such a great time. Take a look at that setlist, now that is some great music. Getting ‘Moonchild’ was a huge bonus and a definite highlight, my favorites of the set were ‘Fear Of the Dark’, ‘Aces High’, ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘Powerslave’. Every song they played was a classic and, like everyone else, there were a couple of songs I wished they had played (‘Die With Your Boots On’ & ‘Flight Of Icarus’) but you just can’t complain with a set like this.
I was sitting five seats in from the aisle so there was a group of four to my left. The girl sitting next to me was somewhere in her mid-20s and a pure Maiden diehard…..and also some sort of dancer I assume because this chick moved like she worked with a pole. I’m not being mean or anything but this girl was dancing it up like a stripper, bumping and grinding to the pre-Maiden P.A. setlist, and she was also extremely good looking and very talkative. I always make friends at concerts so she ended up being my concert buddy for the night even with her man a seat away. As soon as the band hit the stage and launched into ‘Aces High’, we both lost our minds! Two complete strangers, arms around each other’s shoulders, metal horns up and screaming every word! This was the whole night until I blew my voice halfway through ‘Can I Play With Madness’! After I took ‘Rime’ off, the two of us launched into the rest of the set with Bruce…..we had a pretty good harmony thing going there for a while. Seriously, nothing is better than enjoying great Heavy Metal with complete strangers. Metal is something that binds us all together and creates a comraderie among strangers, I think my concert experience was that much better because I had a cool time with my new Metal friend. The two of us got some strange looks from the other three people she was with but it was all good fun!
Back to the band…..obviously they played great. Bruce Dickinson was in fine voice and it’s amazing really because this was the last North American tour stop and Bruce sounded like it was the first. I sat on the Janick Gers side of the stage so I got to see all of his flamboyant playing, as well as, a roaming Steve Harris. Unfortunately, Adrian Smith & Dave Murray kept to the other side of the stage most of the night. Too bad because I always like watching Dave Murray play, it’s always so effortless and the way he stands sometimes reminds me of Ace Frehley. (Note — I’m not saying Ace is better than Dave, obviously Dave is better.) Of course the maniac behind the kit, Mr. Nicko McBrain, was in fine form again…..he even broke part of his kit early in the set and we had a couple minute delay while they switched it out. Back to Bruce…..high energy, running all over the stage, hitting all the high notes and screams…..I felt like I was watching Bruce from back in 1988. Solid performance by the band all around, if anyone is planning on seeing the band on the European Tour, go for it! I can’t wait for another Maiden tour, they never disappoint.