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Monday, June 25, 2007


So last night I had a little outing...

Yes, time to cash in those tickets for an experience I've wanted to some degree or other for about 20 years. Iron Maiden, live in concert.

Now, as mentioned before, I got these tickets off eBay for a great price. Not so great was the fact that the guy sent me circle seats instead of the standing tickets I had bid on. Ah well, I consoled myself with the fact that if I had only managed to get circle tickets myself I would have still been excited. Plus, I really stuck it to him with some scathing neutral feedback. Well, he was very polite, got the tickets out quickly, and offered me a refund when I brought what my optimistic view of human nature would like to think of as a mistake to his attention. Plus, I totally got a bargain. Anyway, as it turns out I was totally wrecked from the party our downstairs neighbours had the night before, so having seats suddenly seemed a lot more like a good idea.

Anyway, without further ado, a review I like to snappily title:


1) The Fun

I think one of the main things people don't understand about metal (or heavy rock, or whatever the hell you want to call it) is that it's fun, particularly live. It's high energy, often a bit silly (sometimes intentional, sometimes not), and at it's best is totally immersive. The best metal gigs suck you in to a shared experience: kind of a wave of mass hysteria which puts you on a total adrenalin high. It helps that the fans are usually feverishly devoted, so that even a casual concert-goer can't help but get a little caught up. Alex, for example, loved it.

It sure beats the hell out of going to a gig filled with assholes who are more interested in having a conversation than watching their latest NME hotlist band. Anyway, Maiden, needless to say, are fun. Yes, it's all a little daft and cheesy, but if you put your oh so sophisticated cynicism on hold for a while it really pays off in spades. Of fun!

2) The Theatrics

Maiden have always been great ones for putting on a show. They come from the old school of stadium rock, brilliantly parodied in Spinal Tap, but still highly entertaining to actually see. Everything is big and brash: the lighting is elaborate, the stage is designed to an album-related theme, the backdrops are dynamic and dramatic, and then of course there are the props. So what did we get?

War torn set to match the theme of the latest album? Check.

Costume change for Bruce, donning a vintage infantry coat and tattered Union Flag for The Trooper? Check.

Huge dead soldier walking around on stage and interacting with band members during Two Minutes to Midnight? Check. (He was really impressive, I gotta say).

Massive tank rising from the back of the stage during Iron Maiden, with Eddie popping out the top? Check.

A glowing-eyed Devil rising at the rear of the stage during Number of the Beast? Check.

3) The People

I'll tell you now: the crowd at an Iron Maiden gig aren't going to win any beauty contests. But they were one of the most pleasant, aggro-free crowds I've been to a gig with in recent memory. We knew something was up when people weren't trying to push into the queue outside the venue. That, and the amount of families in attendance, all decked out in Maiden tees. There was a kid over the aisle from us who can't have been more than 9 or 10, and he was totally rocking out with his dad. It was really nice. Oh, and at the end everyone dispersed in an orderly, non-shoving fashion. Okay, okay I realise that this kinda shows the hollow attitude of this kind of old school metal for what it is: all hot air and puffery. But goddamn it, it's entertaining hot air and puffery!

4) Bruce Dickinson

I swear, you wouldn't think the man was 50 next year. He was pretty much running the entire 2 hours of the gig. Up and down ladders and stairs on the various raised walkways; jumping from the main walkways to the platforms at each end of the stage; jumping, leaping and generally bouncing about the stage.

He's a hell of a front man, commanding attention in a way that's all the more impressive given how elaborate the stage dressing is. He's incredibly charismatic, always chatting with the crowd,, or exhorting them to sing or scream along. Small wonder that he has helped the band gather such devotion over the years. And I was very happy to see that his voice is still holding up. I was under the impression that he couldn't hit the high notes the way he used to, and while he does rework things every now and then, his voice is still pretty amazing. Clear, powerful, and no drop outs that I could hear.

5) The Music

Yeah, I can't deny it, I still love the music. I don't listen to much Maiden any more, but all the classics from my youth are locked in my head, and to hear that material performed live was pure glee. To be fair, the material from the new album - which isn't half bad anyhow - really gained a lot from being live, but to be honest they weren't my reason for being there. So they started with a few new tracks which certainly got things warmed up, and then started hitting the back catalogue. We got Wrathchild, The Trooper, Children of the Damned, Run to the Hills, Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, Two Minutes to Midnight, The Evil That Men Do, Fear of the Dark, and a final encore of Hallowed Be Thy Name (which was fucking brilliant).

What can I say? I loved it. A real childhood dream fulfilled for me, this easily stands as one of my Top Gigs (tm). I think it was helped in no small part by being at the Academy, which is a perfect sized venue to see a big band. The only question now is, dare I see them again and risk disappointment?

The gig was actually a benefit concert for former drummer Clive Burr, btw (he left in 1982, but was the drummer on their first three albums), who now suffers from MS and for whose MS charity Maiden regularly do benefit gigs. So it was even for a good cause.

Up the Irons!

Carry on reading...

Life Hole

Just a quick pimping for my horrifically talented mate Rod's new series of videos.

And just for old time's sake:

Carry on reading...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Useful Content Alert

The Londonist has produced a map of bars, shops and caf├ęs across London which provide free wi-fi. A bit messy, but a work in progress and very handy if you're wandering about with a laptop!

(Or in my case, a DS Lite.)

Carry on reading...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sweet Baby Jesus!

Something incredible happened today.

Last week I had notification of a band playing a gig later this month at the Brixton Academy. Tickets were to go on sale Friday 1st June at 9am at a flat face value of £40. Now, this band is one which I've missed out seeing in the past while I've been living in the UK, and they're not ones for touring down NZ way very often. And they are firm placeholders in my "Bands I Must See Just Once" list, a desire attributable more to my youthful enthusiasm for them than any current appreciation. Though I didn't mind their last album.

Anyway, the chance to see them in a venue the size of Brixton Academy was irresistable, and I had advance notice! I could sit on the net at 9am, frantically hitting "refresh" until the tickets became available and so beat the scalpers. But it wasn't to be. At 9am on Friday I was on my way to work, and totally forgot about the tickets. Needless to say, by the time I did check they were all gone.

Oh calamity!

Anyway, I pulled myself together and checked ebay. Sure enough, dozens of scalped tickets up for sale, many at ridiculously hyped prices. But gritting my teeth I took a punt on one of the 99p starter bids. What the hell, the tickets near the end of their auction were going for reasonably close to face value.

And today I won! Two tickets for £52 (inc postage)! That's right, I managed to get concert tickets off ebay for less than face value! Maybe not all that groundbreaking, but it sure was for me, not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that some professional scalper has lost on the deal. It was like an angel of God had come to earth and whispered my destiny to the internet. Or something closely approximating that, I imagine.

Anyway, that's all. Thought I would share.


*Though it doesn't need saying to those who know me, I'd just like to say that there's no irritating hip irony to my love of Iron Maiden. It's a deep, ingrained thing that goes back to me at 11 discovering Number of the Beast through my mate Barry. A year later I bought a copy of Piece of Mind on cassette. We never had a tape deck in the house at the time, and I always fondly remember listening to it on the stereo in my sister's car on a hot summer day. Holy shit, I am so excited!

Carry on reading...