I was not planning on doing this review until later in the week, because I was not supposed to be home at this hour today. But, since I have the time, I'm gonna try and whip out now one of the longest reviews you'll probably ever see me write. If you don't have the patience to sift through it all, then don't read
But I have a feeling most of you will appreciate it.
My Maiden weekend began on Thursday, the beginning of my school's quarterbreak. I flew down Thursday morning with my mom into sunny Southern California to look at colleges for the next two days, which was my way in to get to see Iron Fucking Maiden on Saturday in nearby Irvine. At night we stayed with our friends in a small town outside Irvine while we drove around SoCal looking at colleges during the day. For those interested I looked at Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside. Finally, Saturday rolled around, the day I had been waiting for anxiously ever since I found out I was really going to see for the third time the greatest band to ever grace the earth.
Saturday evening leading up to the gig was basically a chaotic mess. I went to the beach with some friends in the afternoon but ended up getting back home later than I wanted to, so getting ready was a pain in the ass. My buddies driving down from NorCal were the ones meeting me at the gig, but they were stuck in the notorious Los Angeles traffic. We originally wanted to be at the venue before 6, but we ended up arriving a little after 6:30. Whatever.
The parking lot was already filled to the brim with the doors at 6:30, and the line stretched for the entire length of it. We talked to a couple disgruntled fans who were upset that Maiden would be playing AMOLAD in its entirety live, but we didn't really feel like telling them to fuck off so we just empathized with them
Walking through the parking lot at a Maiden show though is absolutely awesome. Metal blasting from the speakers, the energy is high, it's just a wonderful atmosphere. The weather was pretty much that of a typical SoCal evening, mild with cloudless skies and a light breeze. Essentially perfect weather to see an outdoor show.
We got inside after a long wait in line and moved briskly to the merch stand. I always take note of the crowd at concerts, and this crowd really pleased me. Lots of old schoolers, a bunch of kids too though, I swear that there was like a 5 year old little girl in a 'Maiden Japan' t-shirt. Not too many assholes either, overall it seemed that people were really excited to be there. I was one of only three people I saw sporting Blaze-related shirts, one guy had an X-Factor shirt and one guy had a shirt from the Big Bash, which I thought was cool. If anyone saw me I was probably the only one in the Virtual XI shirt, much easier to spot than the legions in Piece Of Mind and Powerslave tee's
The line for the merchandise was really long, and there was an obnoxious small band playing on the side that pretty much sucked, which made the interminable wait even worse. They should have gotten Cage again. Anyways, $80 later I walked away with my 'These Colours Don't Run' shirt and my 'A Matter Of Life And Death' longsleeve. The prices for the merchandise is fucking ridiculous. I mean, $35 for a beanie!? No one forces you to buy the stuff, but for what the fans pay for tickets and parking alone to just get into the venue the band could give us a fucking break. They must be making a killing on this tour, because I think almost every person there bought at least something.
We made it to our $25 lawn seats right as 3 Inches Of Blood began their set. However, 3IOB's set was not our main concern. My friend and I were hellbent on getting at close up as possible; there was no chance in hell we were going to watch the show from the lawn a mile away from the fucking stage. His brother and his brother's friend aren't big Maiden fans, but they were awesome enough to drive him down and take me to the show, so we ended up not seeing them really the whole night. After watching 3 Inches Of Blood's first couple songs, we started scouting for a way to sneak down. We made our move as non-chalantly as possible and made it down to the first set of seats down from the lawn. Step one accomplished. The lower we snuck down the tighter security got, so by the time we made it to our final resting place DEAD CENTER FRONT ROW BEHIND THE SOUNDBOARD, we felt like kings of the world. Unless we were in the pit against the rail I honestly don't think there was a better spot in the house. Looking behind us at the mountain of suckers who paid upwards of $60 for their ticket, we pretty much were the fucking shit
The rush of euphoria was just tremendous at that point, and that may very well have contributed to how much I actually enjoyed
3 Inches Of Blood's set
I think they need to get rid of the second singer though, just go with the dude with the cool spiky arm brace things. I relistened to 'Advance & Vanquish' this past week leading up the show, and didn't find it as horrible as I previously had thought it was, so I was familiar with most of the songs they covered in their 45 minute set. They also played a few new songs that sounded pretty cool. I just might check out their new album due out next spring on Roadrunner. Behind us during their set was a group of kids who were majorly into their set, headbanging and singing to every song, which was cool. They put on a very solid performance as an opener, and were a fucking hell of a lot better than Bullet For My Valentine would have been. My friend and I each lit up victory cigars during 'Wykydtron', which was a definite highlight of their show
I don't know all the songs they played or the order (except the opener and closer) but I'll list what I know:
Fear On The Bridge *opener
Revenge Is A Vulture
Destroy The Orcs
Deadly Sinners *closer
The crowd in general gave them a warm reception, and I think they deserved it. They also gave Maiden the customary opening act ass licking, but it seemed pretty genuine to me at least. They also worked up a chant at the end of their set of "MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN!" which flickered out shortly but was a nice gesture nonetheless.
During the break for Maiden we talked with a bunch of people around us, all very nice. We were offered some pot by the kind fellows behind us but declined since we wanted to actually remember the fucking show. We also talked with these kids who were 11 and 13 years old and were seeing Maiden for the fourth time! They also had seen Queensryche like myself a couple weeks ago, and had gone to Priest, Ozzfest, and dozens of other shows before. Their dad was super cool too, obviously. A couple of older guys sat next to us too and chatted, they were really tight and we shared some great moments during the gig itself. The whole feeling of the show was super friendly, it truly felt like everyone was there for the same reason together. Unfortunately, as the time for Maiden to start drew nearer, more and more people kept filing in, and since we didn't have a ticket we had to relinquish our spot. We moved up directly one row, still fucking excellent however, and remained there the duration of the show. The gig was completely sold out, not even a single seat empty as far as anyone could see including the lawn area, so me and my friend didn't technically even have seats if we had wanted to sit down at some point.......we just stood together with everyone in that row, just bunching in
Thankfully no one ratted us out, so we were in prime location to witness what I can say with full confidence was the greatest show I have ever seen.
After a prolonged wait for Maiden due to what the promoter announced as "LA traffic", the familiar sounds of 'Doctor Doctor' came over the PA, and every single person there knew what was up. The chants of Maiden started, people singing along, jumping up and down, fists already pumping in the air, the place felt like it was gonna just explode. The lights went down at 9:15 and the sound of some ominous orchestral music filled the massive amphitheatre (I wonder why no one has noted the intro or outro pieces in any of the setlists?). Finally, as expected, the band burst into 'Different World', and we were off the races.
For the first few minutes I was almost too shocked to really do anything other than stand there with a mile wide grin across my face. Despite this being my third time, I was still I think just kind of awestruck that right there, maybe 100 feet away, was fucking Iron Maiden. From the unlikeliness of me seeing this show, the days leading up to it, everything just culminated to this state of shock. Eventually though once the main chorus kicked in I was out of my trance and fully engaged in the show.
When a show this amazing happens, going into detail about each song's performance becomes almost moot. This show had no weaker link, no merely average song performance, no letdown whatsoever. From 'Different World' to 'Hallowed Be Thy Name', this was just the greatest spectacle I've ever seen. My adoration for the second Los Angeles show on the 'Dance Of Death' tour is well documented, and I have said all along that the only band who could ever outdo that show is Maiden themselves. So much time has passed that the feeling cannot be fresh anymore, but the power of the memories is still there. I know that I will hold this show in the same regard as that one, because it wasn't only the band's performance itself. It was headbanging 'till my head hurt so bad that I felt puke come up my throat during 'The Evil That Men Do', it was high-fiveing total strangers after almost every song, exchanging looks of sheer joy with people I'd pass on the street and probably think were total weirdos, headbutting some goliath of a man after 'Brighter Than A Thousand Suns', bouncing up and down like a little schoolgirl during 'For The Greater Of God' (a song I use to hate), air-guitaring like a fucking spaz to 'Lord Of Light', to screaming over the roar of the band during 'The Longest Day' and sounding like a total idiot, to the ultimate ending of the show as my buddy and I put our arms over our shoulders and fucking belted the ending to 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' together, as homo as that may sound
It was too special for words. The Eddie tank during 'Iron Maiden' was incredible (except some pyro during it would have been nice), the solider Eddie during TETMD, the props, the stage show, the lights, fucking shit fuck it was perfect. Bruce was in an excellent mood as well, feeding off the energy of the frenzied crowd and completely owning the stage. During his little speech after 'The Longest Day' the crowd broke into a spontaneous chant of "MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN!" that lasted a solid 2-3 minutes, shades of Montreal 2003. The band soaked it up and loved every minute, and I was truly proud to be there with so many people who actually cared for the new stuff and were into the show. I hardly saw anyone sitting down, and people were bouncing with the music, headbanging, clapping in rhythm, singing, it was fucking beautiful. The sea of lighters during 'Out Of The Shadows' was magical, and of course 'Fear Of The Dark' and '2 Minutes To Midnight' brought the house down as well. My new personal favorites on the album were pure genius too, those being 'These Colours Don't Run' and 'The Longest Day.' As I said though, fucking everything was beyond amazing, Stevie running around like a madmen, Jan having seizures all over the place, and the stoic Adrian Smith nailing every single solo. I swear that his and Davey's leads sounded better live than on the album. Nicko was his usual jolly self as well, and I mentioned Bruce enough by this point to where you should get the point that he fucking controlled the crowd and the stage like a true pro. Not sure if his performance tonight beat LA '04, but it killed Give Me Ed Tour '03 and most of the recent bootlegs I've heard. The whole band was just on fire, and the crowd was definitely the most alive I've seen at a Maiden show this far. If someone has a figure on how many people were there I'd like to know, but it looked as if there had to have been a good 20,000 strong in attendance.
1.) Different World
2.)These Colours Don't Run
3.) Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
4.) The Pilgrim
5.) The Longest Day
6.) Out Of The Shadows
7.) The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
8.) For The Greater Good Of God
9.) Lord Of Light
10.) The Legacy
11.) Fear Of The Dark
12.) Iron Maiden
13.) 2 Minutes To Midnight
14.) The Evil that Men Do
15.) Hallowed Be Thy Name
However, the night didn't end there. After the show, drenched in sweat, we walked back to the car and expected to head to another friends house to crash, but he ended up having like 4 people over and we would have had to sleep on the floor with nothing. So, like the savages we are, we decided to drive back to the Bay Area at 1 in the morning. Brilliant. After an In-N-Out pitstop we were on the road across the vast highways of California. We ended up getting to my friends house in San Mateo at 7 in the morning, took a nap, walked into town at 11 and grabbed breakfast, made a quick run to the record store where I picked up an old Camel LP for $3, and made it to my house by 1 PM. The last 24 hours have felt like a blur to me, and I still feel like I'm teetering between reality and some kind of sleep deprived twilight zone, but it was all worth it.
Take any given memory you have, something that is really special to you. How many times do you think you will relive it in your mind throughout the course of the rest of your life? Will it be 5 more times you remember a sunny day in the park with your family, 10 more times you'll graduate from college, 20 more times you'll walk down the altar? It doesn't matter how many times you relive something or remember it in your head, replaying it over and over again. The most important thing is that you fucking did it; you were there. In this haze of the last 24 hours, I might not remember how much my body ached after the show, or how long we drove home in the car, or how it felt like to see the sun go down for the last time before seeing my favorite band and a true force in my life right there performing live, but I will always have the experience. The words will carry on, the sweat is on the ground, the mark cannot be removed no matter what time does. So no matter what happens, I can say definitively, when the feeling is still fresh and real for me, that seeing Iron Maiden last night was the climax of one of the most special few days of my life. If no one else understands it, or thinks its cheesy, thats fine; I only hope one day you feel the same thing in your own way. Hallowed be thy fucking name indeed.
ROLL ON YOU IRONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SEE YOU IN 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!