Life On The Rail With Iron Maiden In Concord
“I don’t care. I just saw Iron Fucking Maiden.” Those were about the only words I could muster as I staggered about from Maiden’s show in Concord on Wednesday night. The Maiden Crack boiling the metal in my blood commanded a euphoria only available after two hours of pit combat at the center of the rail. My battered body was already starting to ache, and it hurt so damn good. Total fucking metal ecstasy. That feeling is one among many reasons why I conclude every review with: “Iron Maiden is the standard by which all metal should judged.” This writeup is more vignette than story -- I don't have time for the polish -- but over the two Maiden show and entires in the Permanent Record, you're going to understand why I write why I do, why METALSETLISTS even exists at all.
Maiden concert days are special ones, de-facto vacation. I work only to the extent that I absolutely must, if at all. Wednesday was more of the latter. After sleeping into midmorning, I jumped on my bass for a little practice: scales, exercises, more exercises, The Trooper, The Phantom Of The Opera, Run To The Hills… well, you get the idea. I can’t play all of the parts of those songs up to speed yet but I’m getting there. One not-so-distant day. I’ve got the speed but have to build up the endurance.
The Mickster and Sensei were headed up to Concord for this one. I know a lot of you went as well because I can no longer attend many Bay Area concerts without one of you beating me home to at least post the set list. You fuckers make me proud sometimes.
Sensei and I left the studio in Sunnvyale about 2:00PM with stops en route, turning me into a nervous wreck over the possibility of lack of rail. You see, in Inglewood a couple of months, I showed up about three hours early and only managed 40 feet on the GA floor from the stage. Fuck that. We arrived at the Sleeptrain Pavilion about 3:45 PM, with over an hour before any of the parking lots were scheduled to open. We proceeded up through the unmanned VIP gate up to the venue proper. Our battle plan called for one of us to headed to the gates, the other to queue up for parking. All my anxieties were for naught; only one fan was the turnstile.
Who was the first person in line? Our very own Cradle Of Maiden who had flown in from Florida with his dad for the show. Here we started this small thing called METLSETLISTS four years ago; there’s just a couple of us in line and our thing in common was this site. Minutes later, Dion from the IMFC walked up. We shared the rail at Maiden’s Denver gig for the Early Days tour a couple of years ago. It was great seeing him again; he gave me a 1981 Maiden boot from Japan. [Dion, I listened to it on the way home… incredible boot!] It’s a VERY small Maiden world indeed. I love being able to hit a Maiden concert and know people wherever I go. This is my tribe. Read reviews from other members of the fan club, and you’ll hear the exact same thing. Sensei remarked the whole thing felt very Grateful Deadish.
Doors opened a little before 6:00 PM. We all sprinted to get our GA/pit wristbands and then ran like hell down to the rail, the front of which filled up within minutes. CoM was pretty much dead center. Sensei and I were to the left of him. Dion was a few feet over to the left of CoM. The Man wouldn’t step off the Mickster’s testicles; he didn’t make until almost 7:30 PM and I never saw him the whole night. That was the one truly fucked up part of this gig. The Mickster and/or Motorhead Jeff belong at all my Maiden concerts. That's fucking mandatory. It should be part of The Law.
After standing outside for 90 minutes and on the rail for another 90, Lauren Harris and company took the stage. Let me say this as plainly as I can: Lauren Harris has no business opening for Iron Maiden. I don’t care if she is Steve’s daughter. It’s not that she or her band don’t perform their music adequately. I just don’t want to hear that shit before a fucking Maiden concert. Lauren Harris plays pop candy hair metal and should be opening for Cinderella or Winger.
Honestly, I don’t hate the Lauren Harris Band. In Inglewood, a guitar tech played instead of her actual guitarist. This time, he made the gig and was fun enough to watch, doing tricks like soloing with his Gibson on top of his head. Ditto for the hair metal bass player armed with a purple eight string Wizard bass. All of them sold their music with decent stage work. Lauren has a decent voice, and I’m not going bitch about her tight leathers or her back arching / titty thrusts combo.
Lauren must be making some in-roads with her touring. In Inglewood, the floor didn’t react well at all to her set and cheered her exit. In Concord, she had a couple of groups up front cheering the entire time on stage. Of course, a few drunks outshouted them at times. Lauren would yell “Let me see your hands” in a bid for some crowd participation. These assholes responded, “Sorry, our hands are on our cocks. We love your tits!” Advice to the younger metal generation here: girls hate that and it will not get you laid. Gawk like a fucking gentleman.
Thirty minutes after Lauren finished, Doctor Doctor came over the PA. I sang along the best I could, mumbling through the words I didn’t know. The crowd produced a cacophony that blanketed the UFO classic at times. Hell, I sing better when no one can hear me anyways. Transylvania came over the PA next; footage of Maiden on tour played on giant video screens to the left and right of the main stage. We couldn’t really see either very well. So I jostled and prepared for the upcoming attack, the crush of the pit at the beginning of any Maiden show. The Maiden Sardine Can!
More so than usual, I’m not sure exactly how to bring you onto the rail with the words I write here given the time I have. There are so many little momentary happenings that make a Maiden concert such an experience. I’m going to throw some thing out and let them stick to this review as-is. It's a linear remembrance. Forgive the spelling. Forgive the grammar. Feel the passion instead.
** Having four members of Iron Maiden playing bass and guitar for you at a distance that is similar to that between teacher and student during a music lesson in a studio. Watching how they fret songs you've been listening to for years. How easy they make it all seem. The light blue strings on Steve’s bass. The places where Janick’s armband has scratched away the paint on an old fender. Dave and Adrian strumming out chords during Fear Of The Dark. Adrian's brown guitar (Gibson?) with the peace symbol. Dave's cream Strat and having Sensei break down what's special about it.
** The heat from all the pyro. The fireworks from the first notes of Aces High exploding on stage at eye level a few feet away. Fireworks going off overhead during Rime. Lots of fireworks on strings hanging from the riggings. Like little light bulbs exploding; wondering if a fragment is going to blind me. All the flames and fire during The Number Of The Beast.
** “Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink… Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink” … Making direct eye with Steve Harris during the entirety of my favorite lyric from my favorite Maiden of all time… Steve singing the words… me screaming the words back as my if my life depended on it.
** Free titties during Heaven Can Wait. One of the girls next to Bruce flashed him twice. My compliments to her plastic surgeon. Outstanding. Magnificent. Heaven CAN wait for that rack.
** Screaming my fucking guts out all night. when I reach for notes of my vocal range, my voice cracking as badly as a teenager coming out of puberty. Not being able to talk really the next day.
** Fear Of The Dark, one of Maiden’s best hopping songs.Being packed against the rail so tightly that all you can do is bounce one arm up and down.
** Staring at the giant Powerslave Eddie. Gecko on his right arm. Snakes dangling out his mouth. Just waiting, waiting, waiting for the sparks to shoot from his eyes.
** Catching one of Nicko’s drumsticks. The scrum afterwards. Security guard 2057 and 2044 helping me keep it. Protecting my first such at-concert gift from Maiden. Shoving it down my shirt and worrying about impaling myself during forgetful a moment. Having it slide out of my shirt to bottom of the rail and diving down for it before anyone noticed it available again. Holding it on the other side of the rail for the rest of the encore. Taking photos after the concert with it.
** Such intense euphoria, the tears during Clairvoyant. Not caring if anyone noticed. It gets no better at any concert than that.
** The perfect sound coming out of two small monitors up front. The most balanced sound of any Maiden concert I’ve attended. My right ear hurting at the highest pitches of Bruce’s screams. The ringing of my ears for the next 24 hours. I didn’t need those frequencies anyway.
** People flying overhead throughout the entire concert. The unconscious being pulled out of the pit and getting carried out to medical attention.
** The coldness of the water poured my head several times by the best damn rail security detail in the world. How quickly the chill goes away against the heat of the your body.
** The weight of the pit as you are dragged back and worth across the rail. The bruises on the my rib cage as my reward for staying in position. The real reward: being dead fucking center staring at Nicko’s bass drum for a majority of the concert. The rail was intense like Denver but manageable, never feeling threatened. Avoiding the vertical steel girders that help keep the fence up; the grill with some give and take is much better. Using the other side of the ride as brace so you can violently throw up the horns.
I could go on and on like this. However, I'm in Irvine right now with another Maiden concert a few hours away. One of the ladies in the fan club arranged for a block of rooms for us; this weekend is going to be one of the best in my personal metal history. I need to get to it. To-Be-Continued? Your damn right!
UP THE IRONS MOTHER FUCKERS!
The Quick Dirt On The Show
TOUR: Iron Maiden -- Somewhere Back In Time
VENUE: Sleep Train Amphitheater -- Concord, CA
DATE: Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
ATTENDED W/: Sensei, Cradle Of Maiden
GEAR WORN: Iron Maiden Old Fashioned Red
MERCH PURCHASED: None
MOSHING REPORT: Really Not Applicable.
EDDIES AWARDED: 10 Eddies. The Definition Of A Metal Concert
Jaco died for our sins so that modern bass players could be free to play more and be heard.
Last edited by hot_turkey_ed; 05-30-2008 at 02:24 PM.