I really did not expect this post to be a three-parter, but they say that 600 words are about all people want to read in a blog…and there was just so much fun, side stuff that came up, so here we are! (And do NOT word-count this one… DOH!)
Let me set the stage again. The venue is The Glen Helen Pavilion. My first visit, so I was also a Venue Virgin. Yes, this was a big day for me. The stage and sound are great… unlike the Forum, whose sound can SUCK, depending on where you sit. But as I said, the venue is a pain in the ass to get to and park at, especially in brutal holiday traffic.
Since there are no ins and outs we missed Exodus, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. Though I heard they had major sound issues. We caught a bit of Kamelot, who were okay and got to see a lot of Ghost, who were actually pretty good. The whole gothic, all wearing masks thing freaks me out a bit (Jason warned me)…as do songs mentioning Lucifer (Read Nice Jewish Boy) but this Swedish metal band formed in 2008 had some skills and really got the crowd going.
And speaking of the crowd… As I was coming out of the Men’s “Lounge” a guy at the very back of the line asked me “European?” Clearly I was too hot to get it, so when I said no, he said “Neither am I, but hopefully I will be soon.” (Insert Rimshot.) There were lots of “in bathroom” jokes flying around. Ahhh… men and our beer!
Maiden apparently does not call audibles like the other Bruce (Springsteen, that is) and so their set list has not changed in a long, long time. Fine for the first time viewer…but I would guess long time fans would want it mixed up a little. I knew going in I would not get to hear my favorite Maiden tune, “Run To The Hills,” so I guess I will just have to go back for the next tour. And yes, I WILL BE BACK!
Do they have huge “Eddie” inflatables, changing backdrops and monsters attacking the band? Hell to the yes!!!
About 25,000 in attendance? Check.
A few first timers? Oh yeah!
So away we go! Buckle up, Michelle, Casey and Christian. Rocking with you was a blast!!! Thank you for the food, drink and everything else! Thanks to KLOS for the tickets… Thanks to Leihua and Larry in advance for the kick-ass shirt… And Jason, thank you, thank you, thank you for the intro and kick in the butt! Your money is safe!!!
The PA system started blasting UFO’s “Doctor, Doctor” which we knew was their entrance tune and is such a great rocking song! And then my first Iron Maiden show shot out of the gate. The songs were heavy from the new album, Book Of Souls, (six out of a 15-song set) but I quite like the first two songs they did (also one and two on the record), “If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed Of Light”…which I really, really dig. I also love the sing-along anthem “The Red And The Black” and it’s “Whoa oh, oh oh oh… Whoa oh, oh oh oh…”
But of course the biggest reaction was for the classics… and Maiden’s catalog is deep. Highlights for me were “Children Of The Damned,” “The Trooper”, and the set closer “Fear Of The Dark.” The encore was a perfect trifecta with “The Number Of The Beast,” “Blood Brothers” (soooo NOT the other Bruce’s tune) and the great ender “Wasted Years”!
The band is currently made up of:
Founder and bassist, Steve Harris (1976-present)
Guitarist Dave Murray, who has been there almost as long (with a short stint in 1977, and then from 1979 on)
Bruce Dickinson on vocals… and NOT the famed producer with the same name. (1981-1993 and then 1999 to present)
Janick Gers on guitar and with the band since the ’90s.
Adrian Smith on guitar, who went from 1981-1991, then took a break and came back in 1999 to present.
Nicko McBrain is the band’s fifth drummer, but has been playing with Maiden since 1983!
These guys are in their ’60s and rocking like 20 year-olds! Jumping, bouncing, running, going crazy and having the time of their lives. That on-stage joy is infectious, and while I know they have had their in-fighting issues, as does almost every band, it sure seems like this is a Rock N’ Roll Brotherhood!
Also keep in mind that Bruce Dickinson had throat cancer AND throat surgery. I caught his voice dropping out from time to time, but DANG… What a showman, and ALL OVER THE STAGE!
It was at this show that I realized the true meaning of Head Banging!!! Actually, head banging, neck snapping, body aching!!! In fact, Michelle and I both kept commenting on how physically sore we would be the next day… and as my head went up and down to the beat, I could feel almost a Rock N’ Roll concussion coming on. Ah, to be young again. And why did I not get into Metal in my ’20s???
Before the show was over, Bruce said a few things I wanted to share. He pointed out that we may have noticed a few mistakes…but that is what happens when a band plays live and without hiding people backstage or using “canned” vocals. Cheers to that!
I cannot tell you how many bands do this… bands that you would never think would do this. Hell, when I saw Fleetwood Mac in Anaheim on the last tour, we were sitting so high and to the side we could see an extra drummer “hidden” behind the wall next to Mick’s drum set up… and while he did not drum on every song, I was floored!
The last things Bruce said were pretty powerful. Basically he said that “everyone came in safe… and everyone needs to leave safe. Right?” The crowd roared, though I have to say, the huge bonfire some of the fans made in the lawn area gave me concern…and I questioned how security did not shut it down. But…
Oh yeah!!! They made an actual and rather large BON FIRE in the middle of the lawn sitting area, and danced around it all night long… actually ran around it in a circle!!!
The band takes their bows and throws guitar picks and drum sticks out into the adoring crowd and heads off stage as Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” comes over the PA. This is more than appropriate as Metal music often seems to have a dramatic flair, and regularly involves a battle between Good and Evil. It can be mythic and iconic, in music and lyrics…and certainly in stage antics!
Here is the setlist…
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
But what I would like to leave you with, is one of the last things Bruce said to the crowd:
It’s a message that should resonate with all of us. And as I posted on Facebook, it’s a shame that so few of our leaders and politicians speak up like this.
He said: “We need to come together, do no harm and go to bed with whoever we want to because we love them.”
And Long Live Rock!!!