To begin, let's start with cessna182. That's right, my big brother. My mom told me when I was a teenager that I used to carry around a picture of my brother, and idolized him. Surely, we had our strifes. I was an incredibly bratty pest, and pushed him to the limit constantly. Years later, at first I thought the Marines had really changed him, making a mature dynamic man out of him, and that's why it was so much easier to get along with him. In reality, I was also no longer the pesky little brother desperate for attention by any means necessary.
My brother, as a suburban white kid in the eighties with a chaotic family life, listened to a fair amount of heavy metal. When we lived in the Fords section of Woodbridge in the early eighties, my room was barely separated from his. I remember him playing Iron Maiden's Powerslave, and I remember jumping on my bed singing along to it. This led to one of our many fights, as he accused me of not getting the lyrics right. But I loved what I heard. When we moved into a house in the Colonia section of Woodbridge in the mid eighties, he got his own room that I would inherit after he left for the Marine Corps. On the slanting walls, he hung an array of Iron Maiden posters. Sure, there were other band merchandise. Husker Who? sticker on the closet under the holes left by his shuriken, etc. But the Iron Maiden posters drew my attention as an adolescent. Eddie as a British soldier, carrying a tattered British Flag across a body-strewn battlefield. Phantom of the Opera, with Eddie before a massive organ on a field of rocks. Powerslave, with Eddie as a sphinx before slaves and priests. Live After Death, with Eddie on fire emerging from his grave, a Lovecraft quote on the tombstone (Lovecraft being the guy responsible for those cool gods in Dieties and Demigods in my mind at the time). What music I overheard from him, not having any music of my own, I really dug. The posters were inscribed in my memory, and were eventually taken down when he left.
After he left, I scavenged what little music he left behind, getting tired of my first stepfather's classic rock collection. Mind you, I had been personally responsible for the destruction of multiple Queen tapes by this time. Including, sadly enough, at least two copies of the Flash Gordon soundtrack. So I had been borrowing quite a bit of his classic rock, and really got into it. But my brother left a few tapes behind... what was this... WASP? Dokken? These guys really kick some ass! But one tape really captured my attention... he had left behind a copy of Piece of Mind, their first album with Bruce Dickinson as lead singer. The album totally blew me away. Trooper, Sun and Steel, To Tame a Land (a song about Dune, that really long movie on Channel 11!), all these amazing songs. Scott Souza entered into my life at this point, and bought me my first Iron Maiden tape of my very own. Killers. Their second album, the last album before Dickinson, was raw and powerful. Amazing tracks on that one, but I didn't like it as much as Piece of Mind. From there I got Powerslave, a tape of Live After Death (still one of my favorite albums), and the original Iron Maiden. Around this time Bearcat entered into my life, who passed on all of his Megadeth and Iron Maiden on to me after he copied it onto minidisc (back in 1991, suckas). This gave me CDs of all of the albums I had heard, and two of their best albums ever - the piercing Dr. Who devoted Somewhere in Time, and the mystical sweeping Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. At this point I was in middle school, when deviating from the norm was grounds for a good whuppin'. Colonia, as windexcowboy can attest, was a good town back then. There were the mansions where one of John Gotti's lawyers lived (where I got to shake hands with the infamous ``Teflon Don''), there was a long stretch of bland suburbia, and the area where I lived. I lived in a section of Colonia with more of a racial mix than the long stretch, and remember stories from Greg Geiger of the streets being red with blood during the riots there when he was a wee tot. All through grade school, I never noticed that more than half of my friends were black. But in middle school, we were being mixed with a number of other grade schools, and we had such details thrown in our face. So those who I once played with using water guns and mud now were beating up the ``critter'' ``metalhead'' who lived in ``their area''. But after one good whuppin' where I stood my ground and fought back enough to get their respect, their newly formed gang never attacked me again. They never even teased me again, and were my friends again. But that didn't stop most of the white kids from making fun of me for listening to Queen, Maiden, and Metallica instead of Hammer or Vanilla Ice. Fuck, I even wore Hammer-style parachute pants.
Amusingly, when Queen became the next big thing around Mercury's death and Wayne's World hitting the theaters, all of the trendy kids in school were gobbling up Queen and singing it constantly. Those who once teased me for listening to Queen instead teased me for listening to Queen and ``trying to be cool.'' To this day, I've never been quite as into Queen, bitter over the stupid trendy mocking mind of middle schoolers.
Soon I got access to the mall, and with that came Fear of the Dark soon after it came out (I held off on No Prayer for the Dying, which was their worst with Bruce). At the time I was going through serious family drama, and the only guardians who could and would take me to Iron Maiden I really didn't want to go with even if I had thought of it. So I moved in with my father, and heard the bad news. Bruce Dickinson was leaving Iron Maiden. They were releasing two more live albums (A Real Live One and a Real Dead One, the former covering newer songs while the latter covered older songs), and doing a farewell show in England with Bruce. Soon after the show aired, I purchased a bootleg video from the Route One Flea Market, around the same time I bought my first long black leather trenchcoat there. So Bruce was gone, the dream was over, the Iron Maiden I knew and loved was dead.
There were rumors of Steve Harris taking over vocals, as he grimaced the lines while jabbing the bass guitar about as Ulrich growls the words while banging the skins. There were rumors, but they brought in some new guy... Blaze Bayley. Meanwhile, Bruce Dickinson's solo efforts I gobbled up. Balls to Picasso enraptured me, with his Californian experimentation and commentary, it wasn't Maiden but still so amazing. Skunkworks left me wanting more, and devastated me with his hairstyle. Bruce Dickinson went from long beautiful flowing brown hair down to his arse to a mish-mash of short ungroomed hair. At this time, I was growing out my hair as fast as I could from the crew cut I bore my freshman year of high school, getting threatened with detention even at my prom for it. Getting back to Maiden, my senior year of high school they had a new album with this new guy. They were going on tour. Much like all of the other goals I set for myself at this young age, seeing Iron Maiden live came true but in a crappy way, just like sex with karamoon. I was no longer a little kid with no one to go with. By this time, I had seen dozens upon dozens of local shows at Bene. I had seen Suicidal Tendencies, Danzig, and Metallica doing a show at PNC. Hell, I saw Type O and Queensryche there as well. So between my having a car and my age finally being eighteen, I was going to see them live.
I found they were doing a signing engagement at Compact Disc World in Menlo Park Mall. So I got there as early as I could, waited on the line out of the store and around, and got to meet them. Shook all the little British midgets' hands (and the British giant Nicko's), got autographs from them all, thanked them for their music, and directly walked past Blaze Bailey snubbing his ass. I remember walking away from the store, as a car pulled up outside of the store and a man leaned out the window. ``TOMORROW NIGHT, IRON MAIDEN, LIVE AT BIRCH HILL!'' He had a whole long rant, which left quite a few of us laughing after he had left. I had tried getting tickets at the ticketmaster outlet in Menlo as soon as the date was announced, but it was too late. But fuck, I was GOING to see Maiden. So I drove down to Birch Hill, hung out around the place, and quickly scored a ticket off a scalper. I was in! Mike Curtin, one of Matt Mintel's good buddies from the graduating class before me in high school, was there. Mike was a crazy skinhead that people jokingly referred to as ``Natural Born Curtin''. He had the look going to fit the bill, and this was the first time I saw him outside of mandatory tie land. Combat boots, leather straps galore, ready for war. And war he waged, against the bouncers, trying always to get surfed to the stage past them. Who was opening for them? Fear Factory! They totally blew me away, and would eventually become one of my favorite bands. Years later I would see them twice in a few months (also at Birch Hill), with some relatively unknown band System of a Down opening for them. How times have changed, eh? Anyway, yeah, Fear Factory was amazing. They did the ``I am Russell Sprague'' song, which even had Curtin convinced they were saying that.
Then came Maiden. Eh. The guitar work was good. The bass was fucking amazing. The drumming was wonderful. But Blaze? He was no Bruce. Oh, he tried. He tried to get us pumped. He tried to match Bruce's air raid siren vocal range. It left him hobbling through the older songs like a cripple running a race. He couldn't get the high notes, he couldn't hold the screams as long, he just didn't live up to Bruce - unlike Bruce making the singer before him's songs even better. So I got my wish of wanting to see Maiden live... sort of.
Fast forward many years, past many Fear Factory shows and Metallica shows a plenty (including the last Ramones tour and Wu Tang on the same Lollapalooza bill). Bruce releases an amazing album, teaming up with Adrian Smith, the guitarist who left Maiden years before Bruce did. The album is more Maiden then Maiden at the time, which Bruce even admitted was his intention. Steve Harris (bassist and founding member) makes a nasty comment about Bruce doing country western if it would sell, the bad blood continues to boil. I bring the album out to my brother in San Francisco, the circle winding back on itself. He hadn't heard it, and really liked it, even if he was more into Blues Traveler at the time. Just like towelboy's cousin who got him into Genesis, the fan inspired by the other fan had taken the devotion further. Bruce and Adrian do another album, where almost all of the songs are inspired by William Blake, and most of the liner art was done by him. Soon after this, Blaze is out of Maiden, and Bruce is back. Steve and Bruce patch things up, agree it won't be just a greatest hits reunion tour, and agree that it won't be country western in a playful jab back at Steve. They re-do their FPS to celebrate, they release some greatest hits packs, they tour. kingfox is going through hell, and is living in a rectory at the time. Maiden makes a new album, Brave New World, one of their best yet. They go on tour, kingfox is too poor to see them. His friends scream at him afterwords, insisting that they would have paid for him to go see Bruce with Maiden, all he's ever wanted to see. But our hero is too proud, and ends up missing two tours with the lineup he's dreamed of seeing for decades.
Soon enough, I've got a real job, I've got disposable income. I manage to see Peter Gabriel, Wesley Willis, and plenty of great acts. Being on the Maiden email list, I get plenty of email about various European and South American dates. Finally, I get an email about American tour dates for this new tour: ``Give me Ed... ...till I'm Dead''! Fuck yeah! I snag tickets as soon as they're available for MSG, I snag Jones Beach tickets after seeing Santana there and what an amazing venue it is, and I play online bandit to nab PNC tickets for $5. So I manage to work it so I'm seeing Maiden three times. The first time, this past Friday, was el-cheapo lawn tickets at the PNC Bank Arts Center in central Jersey. The second time, this past Saturday, was later-purchased nice orchestra tickets at the breathtaking Jones Beach Theater on Long Island. The third time, this upcoming Wednesday, will be nice close tickets at Madison Square Garden SOLD THE FUCK OUT in New York City.
So that brings us to the shows themselves. Wow. Fucking wow. Motherfucking holy shit fuckity fuck fuck wow blow me away and leave me quivering on the floor in rapture with no ears or voice. I'm orally and aurally wounded.
After being up all night with short few-minute naps with windexcowboy XDing, we get an hour or so sleep at the mansion before heading back to drewuniversity for mrfantasy's surprise baby shower. Knowing the concert is at seven, I cut out a bit before five, knowing I'll have to fight shore traffic. On the way down the WSOU DJ plays two Maiden songs for those on the way to the concert. He announces that he's going to play The Trooper followed by Out of the Silent Planet, the song stuck in my head overnight. He changes his mind, giving us Wicker Man instead of the latter, which ends up being a song they do. I make decent time, fight through the shore traffic like an exhausted ninja on crack, and park the car at twenty past six. Exchange the voucher for the tickets at the box office, fly though the gate, and plop myself down on the dirt. Of all the years of going to PNC, a good deal of them back when it was just the Arts Center, I'd never had lawn seats. Metallica/Danzig/Suicidal I had great tickets in the first row of the middle section, giving us a perfect view. Type O/Queensryche Pete got my old lawn ticket, while Jeff and I had tickets in the middle section. So on and so forth, plenty of having friends back there, but not being there myself. In my haste to get a good seat, I forgot to bring a towel or blanket from the car. Of course, it being fucking MAIDEN, no such luxury was needed after Motorhead. From Dio on, the people around me and I were on our feet. So getting there right after the gates opened at half-past six, I got some of the best lawn seating available. In the center, just left of the right central entrance, seven seats or so left of the right pillar. Only two guys on a blanket between the fence and I. Fuck yeah.
I think it was good that my first Maiden concert with Bruce worked out that way. First of all, it was in Jersey. ``Nobody rocks like...'' *checks back of guitar* ``Springfield!'' To hear him say, ``Scream for me, New Jersey!'' after decades of listening to amazing live albums with ``Scream for me, Long Beach!'' and ``Scream for me, Rio!'' was divine. Second of all, it was in Jersey. Walking through the crowds of Jersey metalheads listening to Maiden CDs and WSOU, I was fucking home. Row after row of metalheads setting up coolers, grills, and blasting Maiden. Over there is some long-haired Italian man grilling sausage while blasting Powerslave. Over there is some guy with a shaved head surrounded by kids all wearing Maiden shirts grilling up burgers while blasting Clansman and chugging a brew. If I didn't have to get a good lawn seat, I would have meandered around the tailgaters for the half hour before the show instead of taking the shuttlebus straight from the lot to the gate. Third of all, it was in Jersey with a crappy seat. So I got to sit out in the rabble, sit out amongst the other central Jersey metalheads, out where people aren't stuck into seats and rows. Before Maiden started, a pair of Indian guys with conservative haircuts, slacks, and shoes to go with their old faded Maiden shirts were particularly rowdy. We ended up forming a circle consisting of the two of them, a couple other random people, and myself. We shouted the names of the different Maiden songs we hoped to see back and forth to each other. ``Infinite Dreams!'' ``The Trooper!'' ``Tailgunner!'' ``Aces High!'' ``Fear of the Dark!'' ``The Clansman!'' Behind me during Maiden, some crazy Brazillian guy with no shirt and a long thick ponytail was dancing. At one point he and I were yelling back and forth during a Maiden song, grasping shoulders. You wouldn't get that in a good seat. Fourth and final element, I was alone. Call me a selfish prick, but I got to get my first Bruce-led Maiden show in all alone. No worrying how the person I was with was taking it, no distractions, just free to cut loose and enjoy it with the anonymous Jersey metalheads that surrounded me on the bumpy hill of dirt and grass.
The crowd was a nice mix. It seemed that the largest chunk of the audience was between my age and cessna182/mrfantasy's age. Plenty of people between eighteen and my age, particularly up in the cheap seats. Some even older, some even younger with their parents. Some tough looking mofo's with Motorhead shirts, some wussy looking poofs with Dio shirts, and hordes of people wearing Maiden shirts. Meanwhile I was wearing a Frank hates YOU! shirt.
As the sun was setting, Motorhead came on. I was really into Motorhead briefly in the summer and fall of 1993. One of the ugliest bands out there, they clearly would not have hit it so big in the MTV-driven modern music industry. Instead of looking pretty, they fucking rock you up your ass. The next night I got to point out a couple of bikers leathered and spiked to the brim to towelboy. ``There are your stereotypical Motorhead fans.'' It's not like Dio, where you'll hear songs about dragons and wizards. No, it's Motorhead, and they were definitely the hardest and fastest band of the evening. One of the songs they did was a tribute to the departed members of The Ramones, but it wasn't as heart wrenching as The Fugs tribute to Ginsberg. But fuck, they were Motorhead. And they seriously rocked.
Next up was Ronnie James Dio. The laughable old man who does songs of dragons and wizards, the subject of a hilarious Tenacious D song, and a priceless school dance on South Park. One weekend I subjected hiphopatcong to Dio over and over, which he said at the time ruined any remote chance of him going to the concert. As my co-worker Paul said, what makes Dio so bad is that he's fairly stereotypical for bad metal from that era. As the roadies set up, people cheered as a banner with the art from the album cover for ``Holy Diver'' was raised. Time for Dio. Fitting into every stereotype, his first song was about slaying a dragon. Of course. Honestly, I expected to spend the hour laughing, but he wasn't that bad at all live. At one point the rest of the band left the stage, in the usual rock ``let one person do a solo while we all have drinks or tune our shit'', and left the drummer. He did a kickass driving solo, not matching the amazing Santana drum solos, but still quite amazing. At one point he had the 1812 Overture going in the background while he pounded the skins. Holy shit did Dio look old. Rainbow in the Dark was played, which got the crowd jumping, and was followed by Holy Diver. Not as bad as I had feared the set was going to be, but still pretty amusing.
The sun had sunk past the trees before Dio, and now it was getting dark. Chants of ``MAIDEN MAIDEN MAIDEN MAIDEN MAIDEN MAIDEN'' spread through the crowd. The screens were rotating through the concert schedule, and people screamed and chanted again every time the night's lineup appeared on the screens. People booed for 50 Cent and Tori Amos, and cheered for Neil Young and Ozzfest. Eventually people started cheering for more and more things. When the African-American Heritage Festival was advertised, people cheered. Next was the Scottish Festival, which got an even bigger screaming cheer. That cheer was nothing compared to the Slovak Festival... but this was Jersey, so the Italian Festival won over all. More chants for Maiden. People cheering for the VIP Parking Service, anything. When the Holy Diver banner was taken down, the crowd went nuts and chanted yet again. One of the roadies testing the guitar did a funky little solo, so people cheered ``GO ROADIES!'' The air was electric.
``Woe to you, oh earth and the sea, for the devil sends the beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short...'' *SCREAMS* ``...Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.'' As that famous sound clip played, the crowd went nuts. Maiden took the stage, the stage layout was revealed, and three giant sixes composed of lights were revealed. ``SIX! SIX SIX! THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST!'' Every time they hit the chorus, the satanic triple digit was lit, the crowd went fucking nuts, and I messed up my pants as I furiously shoved my devil sign in the air. I felt like I was fifteen again, at my first heavy metal concert, and found myself screaming out the words like a little nutty fanboy. I thought I had outgrown that shit by the end of high school, but I was wrong. The stage was a great setup. It wasn't a massive elaborate Eddie like Powerslave or Seventh Son's tours, nor was it the minimal stage of X Factor. This was the ``Give me Ed... ...Till I'm Dead'' tour, so it was Eddies everywhere. Fear of the Dark Eddie in the upper left corner, Number of the Beast Eddie in the upper right, Somewhere in Time Eddie next to the original album Eddie on the bottom left, and so on. And in the center, on the second level behind Nicko, was a window formed by the border of Eddies. During different songs, they had appropriate Eddie banners, except for this first blazing trinity of integers.
Blaze Bailey ain't got shit. Bruce, now that man knows how to work a crowd. ``SCREAM FOR ME, NEW JERSEY!'' Bounding around the stage like a hyperactive teenager in silly pants, forget that he was born in 1958. Jumping over things, up and down between the two levels, pumping the crowd up, this was all I had wanted to see for so fucking long. The presence, the charisma, the showmanship... and let's not forget the voice. The range, the long screams, the high notes, the low notes. Bruce fucking Dickinson, ``Air Raid Siren'', live at last.
They played all I could have wanted and more. The Trooper was awesome, with Bruce running about waving a British Flag while Steve Harris makes his bass guitar gallop like a demonic horse in their song about the Charge of the Light Brigade. One of the first songs to win me over to Maiden, live, in central Jersey. Hell yeah. Bruce said they'd be going on a bit of a journey through time, covering the past and the future. Fuck yeah. They introduced Revelations with a ramble about ancient Egypt and Alister Crowley, and I was blown away. If you're going to die? Die With Your Boots on! Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't remember them doing that one often live, and that was a great little number.
As usual for a band, Bruce praised Jersey heavily. He went on about how we were the fourth stop of the tour, and already by far the best crowd. Throughout the years, no matter what, they could always depend on Jersey to be there supporting them. As much as I'm a patriotic Jersey freak, I reserved judgment, waiting to hear him repeat the same lines the next night and following Wednesday for Long Island and New York City. ``Nobody rocks like Springfield'' was going through my head, as I expected it to be typical pump the crowd stroke their ego lies. But through the night, he kept on complimenting us and Jersey in general.
He went on a bit of a rant about the downloading of music, and went on about how people weren't supposed to take pictures or record concerts. He posed for a picture, and encouraged people to bootleg the following song, which was the future portion of their show. A song from the album coming out this upcoming fall (crowd goes nuts, I've already got the poster for THAT tour printed and put on the wall of my office during XD overnighter). He went on about how people were already downloading it off the internet, and encouraged it. ``You people just spent as much money as three CDs would cost you to get here, I'm not going to worry about you not buying a CD.'' ``So go ahead and tape this song, and send it to all your friends on the internet. If they like it, they'll buy the new album. If not, oh well.'' ``Maybe people would be buying more music instead of downloading it if the music that was coming out today didn't all suck so incredibly much.'' Audience goes fucking nuts, Bruce Dickinson encourages piracy, gives the internet mad props, and they do a song off the upcoming album. It was a good song, I can't wait to hear the rest of the album.
One thing to note. Typically Iron Maiden has been a five person band. Lead singer, bassist, drummer, and two guitarists switching between lead and rhythm. Remember earlier, when I talked about Bruce teaming up with Adrian Smith, fellow former Maiden member? So when Bruce was invited back, people assumed Adrian would come back with him. But were would that leave poor Janick Gers, who Bruce introduced into the band to fill the gap Adrian left? Fuck that, they both stayed. So Maiden's now a six member band, with three people trading off solos as lead or rhythm guitarists. For their older songs, this doesn't change much. For their newer songs, they are written around the concept of having four people (counting Steve Harris on bass) standing in a row on guitar.
They did Wicker Man, which I had just heard on WSOU, which was awesome. It was great to see the newest Eddie hovering over the band. They also did The Clansman off that album, with another whole long Bruce Dickinson intro. He rambled about how they've risen and fallen. How MTV covered them constantly back in the eighties, ignored them in the nineties (yeah - remember you left them Bruce), and now wanted to be their friend again. ``In England, we have a term for people like that. Fair weather friends. Fuck MTV!'' Want to get a bunch of heavy metal fans to scream? Attack MTV. Heavy metal fans would cheer for Adolf fucking Hitler if he gave a speech attacking MTV. So Bruce attacks a few other corporations who ignored them, and asked people if they knew why Maiden was there? Here you go Bruce, another moment to suck the audience's collective genitalia and get us to go nuts, blow smoke up our arse, go for it Bruce. Not because of the corporate sponsors, not because of MTV or because they had a new album, but because of us (awwwwww), the fans. Typical musician stroke the ego of the crowd, make them feel good, kiss their asses rant. Heard it a million times, know it's a script, but Bruce really delivers it with conviction. Instead of just writing children's books, being a commercial co-pilot, and hosting a radio talk show on top of his Maiden duties - he should be a politician. He also asked who would be seeing them again tomorrow. A few hands went up, most of them down in the more expensive seats, not many up with me in the cheap seats. He asked how many people were seeing them again Wednesday. More hands went up, but he proudly warned the crowd that Madison Square Garden was sold out in mere hours, so people could only see them if they had tickets. Anyway, he went from kissing our asses and talking about how we supported them into us being like a clan. Those of us who caught the reference cheered. He spoke of William Wallace, of Braveheart, and of how a clan sticks together. Eddie with three-quarters of his face painted blue and a Scottish sword dripping with blood banner is pulled across, and they treat us to The Clansman. The cries for ``FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEDOM!!'' during The Clansman enters it into the pile of songs that are just real crowd-pleasers live. Though I did note with amusement that it was a bunch of Americans cheering for a bunch of boys from the London area singing about a bunch of Scots kicking some English arse. Next I want to hear a French band singing to a former French colony about Nazis invading France.
Hallowed Be Thy Name was as good as I had expected. ``As the guards walk me out to the courtyard, someone cries from a cell, "God be with you!" If there is a god, why does he let me die?'' They even did Clairvoyant, one of my favorite songs of theirs live. The nice slow intro with only the bass, then one guitar joining in, then the other two (normally it would be only the other one - but see note above), then the drums, and finally the vocals. The Eddie banner for that song was the Seventh Son poster I've got that was right behind the television Sophomore year at drewuniversity. That was also the song where Eddie came out and walked around. Yeah, they still have a giant Eddie walking around on stage, that tradition will probably never die. So it was a regal Eddie, with a crown and red robes... either a seer or a noble, with red glowing eyes, battling with the band. Of course, the crowd went nuts for Eddie. Except the poor guy forty feet to my right, who got his knee caught in the barrier. Took a crowd of workers tools and ice and some time to get him free. Almost completing the lineup of posters I've got on my wall, they neglected to use the Eddie for one of my favorite songs... and it is one of my favorite Eddies. The lights went out, except for one bright white light focused straight down on Bruce. He blew the light out, and we knew it was time for Fear of the Dark. All-in-One, the old drewuniversity mail program, let you enter a one-liner. This would pop up any time someone entered in your name as a recipient in All-in-One. Tony D. had ``Quit looking at me, swan!'' Tons of people had cute little things. Mine was, ``When I am walking the dark road, I am the man who walks alone...'' That's the intro line to Fear of the Dark, which is delivered slowly after the live crowd moans. ``Oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh....'' The song truly kicks ass, and was amazing live. ``New Jersey in the Dark!'' Not one of their more introspective songs lyrically like some of the others played that night, but a beautiful rocking melody. Some people towards the front were waving a Brazilian flag, shades of the ``Rock in Rio'' DVD dancing in my head, and he asked them if they were from Brazil.
Eventually they did Iron Maiden, their title song off their title album from 1979. Good, simple, ass-tearing track. A Eddie with wires hooked up to his head and a straitjacket on his torso was revealed, and his head opened up between verses. ``A mind is a terrible thing to waste, he did!'' Big red brain gets slowly lowered into the hole, and Eddie starts rocking to the music as the song wraps up. ``Good night from Iron Maiden, from Eddie, and the boys!'' Just as ``Goodnight teenagers!'' was Dennis Miller's late night adios to those watching his talk show in the early nineties, as ``See you in twenty-three hours, peace, and think number one!'' was Arsenio Hall's, that's Maiden's goodnight. But not their goodbye. You know they're not over until Monty Python is played over the speakers. So the ``MAIDEN'' chants resumed, and people shook the earth. Just as Morpheus said Zion would do, PNC shook. Something I've experienced a few times before, but only at metal shows. People pounding on their seats, on the barriers, on any surface they can find until the ground rattles. Maiden came back out, and did a couple more songs. I love Maiden, but I hate when bands do that. Metallica was the worst for that, doing three or four ``encores'' most times I saw them. Fuck that. Take a break, let someone do a guitar or drum solo, but there's no need to play the game when the audience all knows what's going on unless it's their first concert ever. That stunt was old in the eighties, people.
So they came back out, and did Two Minutes to Midnight, a song I regularly played on my radio show right before midnight. ``What time is it?'' *Crowd goes nucking futs* ``What time is it?'' *Crowd goes even more nucking futs just to get them to start the song already* ``I said what time is it?'' *Crowd gives up all hope of restraint, and just screams* ``Two Minutes to Midnight!'' *Crowd repeats the scream, knowing that they had established what song was next during the first inquiry about the hour of the day* Another great song live. They followed that with Run to the Hills, one of their ass-kicking classics, possibly the song most associated with them. Native American Eddie in jeans and a shirt throttling Satan and wielding a hatchet was thrown up, and they rocked. The song ended, they said good night again, they threw out drumsticks, wristbands, and picks again. But this time Nicko threw out the tops of the drums, so it truly was over. Lights went out, people chanted and cheered and shook the earth again, lights went back up and they booed. Monty Python came on the speakers, ``Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'', the song Maiden's ended shows with for as long as I can remember.
Oh my lord, the hot women there! Nothing makes an attractive young female hotter than throwing an Iron Maiden shirt on her. Rawr! Throw on some leather and spikes to boot, and I'm fishing for a diamond ring.
Walking back, I overheard some guy bitching. ``That wasn't the set I wanted to hear. Where was Flight of Icarus? Where was Fear of the Dark? Where was The Evil that Men do? Where was Clairvoyant?'' I wanted to point out that they DID Clairvoyant and Fear of the Dark, but I was too tired. So I took the bus back to the lot I parked in, which stunk to high hell. Take a pack of metalheads, give them four hours of music, and then cram them into a schoolbus. That'll kill a canary. I purchased a shirt when I first got there so I wouldn't have to wait in line, and I drove the hell north. Turned on Eddie Trunk, and his first song coming off commercial was Number of the Beast. Fuck yeah! He talked about the show, and played some Motorhead and Dio. Damn I love his show.
On the way back, I decided that I needed some White Castle . My cell phone died at some point the night before, so I couldn't just call Pete and see if he wanted to hit the Rahway White Castle near his house. Of course, I would have called hiphopatcong or aaronkliger during Holy Diver if my cell phone was charged. So I went to the White Castle of my youth, the one between Woodbridge Center and Menlo Park Mall, just across the street from the sign letting people know they were entering the center of the world. But around that area of the GSP, not all exits are available in both directions, either coming on or getting off. Working at Cheersoft, I remember one evening where people forgot this and it took them between fifteen and forty minutes to finally get to the White Castle, depending on how well they knew the area and recovered from the mistake. So I took the exit I knew I could shoot over to White Castle from, and drove around the corporate towers of Woodbridge. I passed the Woodbridge Hilton, which was heavily advertised during the show, and saw some metal-looking types unloading things. I think maybe Maiden was spending the night in Woodbridge... hell yeah. Driving the direction I remembered as being right, I started doubting myself and was convinced that I was going to end up in totally the wrong place. I wanted to get home early enough to call people, and here I was, driving the fuck around lost in my home town when I could have gotten to and from the Rahway White Castle or Irvington White Castle faster. Feeling really stupid for getting lost in Woodbridge (despite not really driving around it much since high school), I spy a road I know will take me exactly where I need to go. Of course, the universe smiling, the road also takes me right by Compact Disc World, where I first met Iron Maiden seven years ago. That White Castle has special meaning to me... It's the one closest to both of my homes, it's the one I've been to most often, and it's the one where BBSers would often go. Carnal Plumber used to talk about wanting to bring Femur there and boffing in the parking lot, Sarge gave me his sage advice on love and relationships there, I brought dates there all the time back when I was a womanizer. Sack of twenty-five my good man, five for her and twenty for me. Aaah, the teenage metabolism. So I got eight jalapeno cheeseburgers, was back on the GSP within five minutes, and sped home.
The next night was the Jones Beach venue. towelboy had decided it was easier for him to go to that one instead of the Wednesday one, so we arranged to meet up at drewuniversity. Talked with hiphopatcong on the phone for a bit, and watched a few moments of Trigun after talking with towelboy about it. Went to drewuniversity, left his car there, and drive out to Manhattan, getting stuck for a bit in Lincoln Tunnel traffic. Between when that and difficulties finding the place at first, we ended up cutting our narrow window of time before the first act way too short, missing them entirely. So no Motorhead for towelboy. But we got there as Dio was starting, so we caught three fourths of the show. Of course, I wish it was Dio before Motorhead, so towelboy could have gotten to see the better of the two... and how hard live metal can truly be. I bought us a couple of large Aramark overpriced five dollar sodas, and joined him at our seats. Which were fucking amazing, about as close as hiphopatcong got for Santana. We could see the thin hair and wrinkles on Dio's face. Some guy wearing an Eddie Trunk shirt was rocking out near us, and it was nice to have towelboy with me to share the fun of drooling over metal girls. He enjoyed Dio, and was talking about how amazing the experience was and how his ears would feel the next day. I then informed him that Dio was the worst and softest of the three bands. I called hiphopatcong during Holy Diver, hopefully he got some of that on voicemail.
After some more girl watching and describing the night before, it was time for Maiden. This crowd, silly Long Islanders, chanted for Eddie instead of Maiden. Clearly they haven't watched enough Maiden videos. What do they do, scream death instead of die during Creeping Death? Eh? Maybe it was because I was sitting in good expensive seats instead of out with the rabble on the soil and grass, but the crowd just didn't seem as pumped or fanatical.
Same set as the night before. Go back, read that, and apply it to Jones Beach. Boats pulled up in the water to the left, a sea breeze pushing and pulling the air about, a close intimate yet epic venue. I'm glad towelboy got to see Jones Beach. I'm also glad I got to share Iron Maiden with him. Oh, and I caught him rocking out. I caught him banging his head, shouting, and raising his fist. If someone had told us freshman year that seven years later we'd be pumping our fists to Maiden together, we'd have laughed. But there we were.
I was incredibly pleased and delighted to note that Bruce didn't kiss Long Island's ass nearly as much as Jersey. He never said that they were the best audience so far. He never said that Long Island or New York were always there for them, and were always an amazing audience. He only praised the audience once, which actually made me quite happy. If he doesn't kiss NYC's ass next Wednesday, I'll be in heaven actually buying his praise of Jersey. Instead of doing one speech about downloading music and another speech about corporations, he merged the two speeches. The speeches were slightly different, also mocking modern bands lack of longevity instead of just how their music sucked. He also made fun of Tommy Hilfiger, asking why they were giving a rock show at a place named as such. They got the cheap attacking MTV cheer, but didn't kiss our asses as much. He asked how many were going to the Wednesday show, at which point towelboy elbowed me. Less hands went up than at Jersey. Maybe he was right in kissing our asses in Jersey.
The show was just as amazing, and it was great to be so much closer. towelboy pointed out three Eddies that were too high for me to see the night before in the cheap seats, and it was great to see them up so fucking close. Janick's guitar spins, Adrian's guitar wizardry, and Dave Murray's blinding fingers... all up in our faces. Some guy ran across the stage with a Maiden flag cheering, and it looked like he actually got out of security's grasp at the edge of the stage. People had plenty of Maiden flags, and at least one American flag. As the Trooper started, the Eddie as British soldier banner got stuck at first only coming out half-way. Bruce laughed at it, making exaggerated confused motions at it for a bit before they fixed it. Different intro to Fear of the Dark, slightly different ``Janick Gers has never paid for a drink in his life'' speech, but mostly the same. Threw a Jersey reference in though, about how Nicko McBrain was a graduate of a New Jersey ballerina school, which I cheered for. During the fake ``good night'' interlude, I asked towelboy if he knew what that rattle was, that deafening echoing rattling noise. I explained how it was the pounding of the chairs, which amazed him. Another amazing fucking show, with Bruce dancing like a sprite, the four axe-wielders amazing me, and Nicko flailing his arms. Some guy just ten feet in front of us got one of the drum tops, and we sat down through the Monty Python ditty singing along. Bought another shirt, this one had the Piece of Mind cover on the front and a series of medicinal jars on the back. Each jar had a different Eddie head from the different albums over the years. Live at Donington left in but Maiden Japan left out? What the fuck?
Pumped myself 6.66 gallons of gas to get us home, and took Southern State back to the Triboro, FDR south, and Canal to Holland. Plenty of traffic, which left us with plenty of time for good ear-ringing conversation about a variety of topics. towelboy introduced me to Gray's Papaya, which was a great fucking place I look forward to returning to. Stopped at the Madison Quick Chek for supplies, and said our goodbyes at drewuniversity. In was wonderful having him there, he swore that he had a good time, I caught him really getting into it or at least putting on a good act quite a few times, and it was incredible to share that amazing show with him. Truly glad that he made it, truly glad I went, two amazing fucking shows and a third one on the way. Up the irons!