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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Iron Maiden June 18 2008 Concert Review

This really was the show that had it all......... thats how I will remember it anyways.... from the minute we stepped into Merriweather- a venue Iron Maiden has been hitting since the early 1980s- (early for once) you could tell there was a certain electricity in the air that I've rarely seen at shows in the Washington DC area... it had that feeling of excitement and expectation that you get at an arena show during the break before the Rolling Stones take the stage... we walked in and people were gobbling up 45$ iron maiden black t-shirts like skittles... the opener- Lauren Harris- (Maiden bassmaster and head song honcho Steve Harris' progeny/daugther) in a way was a little over the top but on another level gave the metal crowd what they wanted..a  loud rock out performance.. and when you think about it thats the only type of opener that would work for Maiden....certainly John Hiatt folkies would not work.. in any case we made our way to the pit and started to worry - needlessly as it would turn out- about a pit that seemed overpacked..the seats in the first rows behind us began to look tantalizingly comfortable and safe.... after Lauren was finished with what I thought was a pretty good set of balls out rock I made my way to the restrooms where I noticed for the first time that the crowd at the show did seem a little scruffy, long haired and maybe even worse for the wear..  this weren't trust fund kids thats for sure....made it back to the pit and proceeded to count down the 14 minutes or so until Maiden would take the stage....the sun was just about to go down as they did so at 8:40.... we heard the strains of winston churchill's "we shall never surrender" speech and the band came out firing on all cylinders with Aces High.... the first thing you noticed was the frenetic stage presence of Bruce Dickinson.. not having seen them before I had not realized Dickinson was sort of a metal jagger or metal mick who acted as if the show was a workout between some of his fencing matches... also although aware I would see  a triple guitar attack (plus harris triplet bass style) I had not realized just how racuous and frenetic it would prove to have four guitar gunslingers running around on stage.... at the beginning i focused on Steve Harris who was the classic picture of a metaler.... these guys delivered the poses and metal looks in pardon the redundancy spades.... behind the drum kit- nikko- was completely unvisible as he would remain during the entire show save for when he came out for the introduction towards the end of the show... dickinson underwent costume change after costume change as he moved around the stage like a tiger.... the stage itself featured some great scenography or "sets" .. the trooper for example was performed with dickinson largely singing- costumed as a british military officer/recruit- right in front ot a large magnificent Eddie the Trooper backdrop while holding and waving the union jack... what became noticeable from the first strains of aces high following through two minutes to midnight/revelations and the rest of the "hits" laden set list was that this crowd was HUNGRY for maiden, was lapping it up and was giving Dickinson and company a reception the likes of which you simply do not see in this part of the country.. the crowd was screaming, yelling and taking pictures like they had front row seats on the apollo landing on the moon... usually crowds in what i like to call the mid-atlantic region (DC area) are fairly introverted and shall i say "lame"? but this was not the case here... Dickinson sounded wonderful just like on the records with that trademark operatic wail of his mixed in with the more traditional gruff metal overtones.... he gave us a great rant about telling european MTV what they could do with their offer to have madien re-launch their european headbangers ball: "they never did anything for us.. we told them to stick it up their ass!"... of course i must also add there is something to be said for hearing Dickinson yell to you and thousands of other maiden fanatics "SCREAM FOR ME BALTIMORE!!!!!!!!" although I will never know why he picked to call us baltimore...anyways we screamed.. a lot....songs went by and set changes accompanied them... through egypt... then appropriately for the show's highlight some sort of ship for the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.. the guitarists alternated their locations on the stage and gave us more guitar hero poses than a heavy duty rock fan has a right to....the newer guitarist Janek or some such in particular added a lot the stage show....Eddie made two appearances first as a mummy and then as the gun toting character on the cover of the somewhere in time album.. powerslave was a highlight with dickinson wearing some crazy monster-ish outfit.... the set's one lowpoint in my mind was "Can I play with madness" which sounded flat and semed to be missing the songmaking guitar riff.... But basicaly this was an incredibly solid meat and potatoes metal show that gave you pretty much everything you could have asked for including pyrotechnic effects...these guys earned their money..
extraneous thoughts: and they did give evidence of a certain "we do it on our own"..Bruce highlighted the fact that they were now getting young fans that had never before seen them perform these hits which were being reprised from their 1980s glory days....Bruce also made a point to give a shout out of deep appreciation to their fans on the lawn who could not afford to be up front like the "fat cats"....certainly iron maiden seemed to make a point to identify with their more working class roots... . well this review has not veered off any sort of organization but I think have summarized it.. for me watching Steve Harris play that tan ta ra tan ta ran tan bass triplets was quite the treat....

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