What was your first concert?
If you're a music fan, this is a question you've answered hundreds of times and you likely never grow tired of talking about it. For the record mine was Iron Maiden on the 'World Slavery Tour' on July 15, 1985 in Worcester, MA. I went with my best friend Josh, his older sister Jess and their Dad, Bill.
Josh and I were 14 at the time and Maiden were at the height of their 80s popularity. I can recall the smallest of details about this show, from the drive there to the between song banter from Bruce and the stunned silence of the ride home.
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About a year and a half after this show Josh died from a heart defect that no one could have foreseen. Maybe this is one of the reasons that every Maiden gig is so emotionally charged for me. None more so than the 1999 'Ed Hunter' show in NYC where I sat in the balcony next to Jess and we cried like babies remembering our long lost friend and brother.
To this day I get choked up when I hear the 'Powerslave' songs played live. Last night was no exception.
Last night though there was also cause for celebration as I was bringing my eight-year-old son Alex to HIS first concert. Alex's middle name is Joshua... the emotions were flowing pretty freely.
But enough about that! What about the gig?
Well it was another brilliant Maiden performance. Can I leave it at that? No?
Nicolas (12) and Alex (8) after the show
As you all know, Maiden alternates between shows supporting new albums and those that dredge up the songs from past eras and this was one of the latter. Specifically recreating the 'Maiden England' tour of 1988 in support of 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son'. The stage was covered in 'ice' and the Eddies were frozen, ablaze, alive and commanding as they popped up all over and ran around onstage.
This was one of the few (only?) indoor shows on the US tour so it was not plagued with the extreme heat we've had here so far this summer. That said, it was plenty hot with an insane amount of pyrotechnics that could be felt even up in the 'roof' seats. Needless to say this impressed young Alex.
I've heard people say that Maiden have been 'sloppy' on this tour and while I think I can hear why they might think that, I'd counter with the notion that they're playing things more 'loose' and having more fun of late. Some bands detest the nostalgia trip of performing old songs, but Maiden embrace it and seem to enjoy it as much as we do.
Musical highlights of the setlist for me were the return of 'The Prisoner,' '2 Minutes To Midnight' as referenced above, 'The Trooper' because my kids sang along with me, 'Phantom Of The Opera' as it's an old favorite, 'Wasted Years', the grandeur of 'Seventh Son' and 'The Clairvoyant'. Sure I missed 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' and .Infinite Dreams,' but overall I think the setlist was excellent.
One thing that I was glad to see was that Bruce has stopped his long rant about Maiden not getting any radio play in the States. He was preaching to the proverbial choir on this and I always felt like it was a waste of time.
Whoa oh ohhhh oh ohhhh oh oh oh oh
He did give an extended intro to 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers', which sadly seems to be a relevant song every time they play it and he also seemed a bit obsessed with the idea that America's Independence Day was coming up in a few days. He used it to whip the Yank crowd into a frenzy then deadpanned, "it means nothing to me". Bitter about losing the war with the Colonies Bruce?
He was also quick to point out that this was Maiden's first time playing at the Prudential Center in Newark and was very impressed that it had a proper floor area, "with no fucking seats!"
I hope that Alex had fun and that 27 years from now he will remember his first concert as fondly as I remember mine. Though I hope it's not because I'm going to die in the next year and a half!
I have a nagging feeling that this may have been my last Maiden show, I don't know why I say that... just a feeling. If so, it was a great way to end things, if not, I'll get to bring my young daughter to HER first concert in a few years.
Up The Irons!
In Memory of Joshua Neil Willis 1971-1986