My Iron Maiden Experience
For metal fans Iron Maiden is one of the most influential bands of the metal and hard rock scene. Iron Maiden is a band that was a pioneer in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal era of the late 1970’s and early 80’s. For me, Iron Maiden is one of my favorite heavy metal bands and one of my favorite bands in all genres of music. Recently I got to see Iron Maiden live and that was a real treat to see this iconic band perform. In this article I will give you a brief history of the band, how I got introduced to their music and how it impacted me, and my experience with seeing them live.
Childhood and best friend Simon Lynx first introduced me to Iron Maiden’s music back in 1994. Although I knew who the band was years before that and have heard some of their music and seen a few of their videos on Headbangers Ball like Can I Play with Madness, Number of the Beast, and Run to the Hills, I first really heard them back in the mid 90’s when Simon played a few of their albums for me and I also watched a video of one of their concerts. Once I heard their music I was hooked. I believe when I first heard the Somewhere in Time album (which is my favorite Maiden album to this day) that music pulled me in and I became an instant fan. Also albums like Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son also were very influential.
For me with music, once I hear a piece from a singer or a band it is either I like it, hate it, or love it. With Maiden I loved it. I was never a big Top 40 music fan and always liked music that had some depth to it and of course rocked with strong vocal, great guitar, and powerful drums. Maiden had a unique great metal sound and wrote and preformed these epic songs on each album. Maiden almost reminded me of early Genesis, not really in their sound, but both had epic songs that told a great story that lasted over ten minutes at times. Although I have to say there is a part in Maiden’s Phantom of the Opera, a song from their first album, self titled Iron Maiden, which has an early Genesis sound to it.
I also liked the bands theatrics and energy when I watched videos of their live concerts. They always put on a great show and gave the crowd their all. One of things that always makes an appearance at their concerts is their mascot, Eddie, who is this corpse or zombie that is on all of their album covers. At the live shows Eddie is usual someone dressed in a suit or a large puppet that would come out at a certain period in the show. Eddie has become an iconic figure in metal and in music in general. When you think of Maiden you think of Eddie and all the great cover art for their albums. Another thing Maiden has in common with Genesis is their unforgettable artwork for their album covers, but also like Genesis, Maiden is not just famous or remembered for their covers and stage theatrics, it is their music that makes Iron Maiden a classic group and an important part of metal and rock ‘n’ roll history.
Speaking of history, for those of you who are not familiar with Iron Maiden, here is a brief history of the band and how it became a huge metal force. The band was formed on Christmas Day 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. Throughout the years the band went through many different members, but Harris and guitarist Dave Murray remain the longest standing members of the group. During the mid and late 70’s after going through a few lead singers, they finally found one that would stick for a little while longer and that was Paul Di’Anno. Di’Anno was the lead singer on Maiden’s first two albums, Iron Maiden that was released in 1980 and Killers, released in 1981.
After the Killers album the band started to have issues with Di’Anno due to poor performance and apparently due to drug abuse. So the band fired Di’Anno and went searching for a new lead singer. Who they found was former Samson member, Bruce Dickinson, who was a prefect fit for Maiden and brought the band to new levels both on their albums and their live tours. Dickinson’s first album with the band was 1982’s Number of the Beast, which featured hits such as Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills, and Hallowed Be Thy Name. Throughout the 80’s the band became metal Gods and rocked arenas all across the world. Even putting out a few live albums such as Live After Death from 1985, which in my opinion is one of the best live albums ever made.
In 1993, Dickinson left the band to focus on a solo career, but before he left he did a farewell tour with the band. The following year the band hired Blaze Bayley, formerly from the band Wolfbane, as their new singer. Bayley’s first album with the band was The X Factor, which was released in 1995. At the time I was all ready a Maiden fan when Blaze joined the group and did not know if he could fill Dickinson’s shoes. After getting the new album and listening to it I did enjoy it. He was no Bruce Dickinson, but the album still had a Maiden feel just with a different singer. Bayley made one other studio album with the group, 1998’s Virtual XI, before leaving the band. This opened the door for Dickinson to return to the band for a 1999 tour, which also included a return of former guitarist, Adrian Smith. With Dickinson back, the band recorded a new album in 2000 called Brave New World and the group made three more new albums after that including their 2010 release The Final Frontier.
As I first started getting into Iron Maiden I was a big fan of the Bruce Dickinson era, but I was also a fan of the Paul Di’Anno when he was in the band. Iron Maiden and Killers were some of Maiden’s best works. There were tons of great songs on both those albums. I remember a music video to a song that Di’Anno sang on called Women in Uniform (the song was never on those two albums, it was a b-side) and it was awesome. It was your typical early 80’s music video with the band singing in on a stage and had little segments throughout with some hot women. There was a scene in the video where they had someone on a stretcher that was covered up in a sheet. There is a part where the body pops up and it is a guy with an Eddie mask on and they repeated this shot a few times with him popping up. I actually stole this shot in one of my films I made back at home in New York where I had someone in a monster mask pop up from underneath a garbage bag.
When I moved to Tampa in late summer 1995 to go to college, I started up a campus television show called Creeping Death (after the Metallica song). It was a horror anthology series kind of like The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt. I would often use metal songs from the 80’s and 90’s in the shows. I used a bunch of Maiden songs throughout the series like Phantom of the Opera, Genghis Khan, Charlotte the Harlot, The Trooper, Aces High, and Flash of the Blade, which was also the title to one of the episodes. The Flash of the Blade song is also featured in Dario Argento’s Phenomena. I always thought their music would be prefect in a horror movie and since many of their videos have clips from classic horror films I thought Maiden and horror are a prefect match. Their songs influenced me greatly and helped add a great element to those episodes.
Fast-forward to April 17, 2011 when Iron Maiden took the stage in Tampa, Florida at the St. Pete Times Forum and I was one of the many thousand in attendance. I went there with my friends Phil and Simon (who was the one that got me into Maiden in the first place). I was very excited to finally get to see Iron Maiden live. The opening band they had, Blacktide, was not bad and they kind of have a Maiden vibe with a little thrash throw in and a little bit of Motley Cure. The singer kind of sounds a little like Dickinson trying to sound like Vince Neil. After the opening act it was time for Maiden to take the stage. They started playing a video with Satellite 15 playing (their opening on their new album, The Final Frontier). After that the lights came on and Maiden kicks off the show with the title track from their latest album The Final Frontier. The band opened loud and hard and it was going to be a great night.
The stage they had was this space like set that looked like abandoned spacecrafts or a space station. This went with the theme to their new album. They would often throw up different images on this big screen behind them like the cover to the new album, different Eddie artwork, and a space setting. I pictured the stage a little bit bigger, but it worked just fine. The band played a variety of songs from their collection. They played songs mostly from their latest album like The Final Frontier, El Dorado, The Talisman, Coming Home, When the Wild Wind Blows. A few other newer ones like Dance of Death from Dance of Death and The Wicker Man and Blood Brothers from Brave New World. My favorite were the older songs that they played such as 2 Minutes to Midnight from Powerslave, The Trooper from Piece of Mind, The Evil That Men Do from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Fear of the Dark from Fear of the Dark and a Di’Anno song, Iron Maiden from their first album Iron Maiden. After that song they left the stage, but came out for an encore, which included The Number of the Beast and Hallowed Be Thy Name from The Number of the Beast and closed the show with Running Free from Iron Maiden.
The entire show was awesome and the band played a really good show. The place was packed as well, but it was not sold out, which I was surprised. There were plenty of seats up in the third level, but the floor, first and second levels were basically filled up. The crowd was into the concert for the most part, but they were times where they did not seem into it. I am not sure why, because Maiden put on a hell of a show. I guess they were not hardcore Maiden fans and just wanted to see a metal show. I know a lot of the people their did not know the newer songs, which I am guilty of that as well. I just got my hands on their new album, but only listened to it a few times, so I had to keep asking Simon when they were playing a current song, “Was that from the new album?” I do know once Maiden played a classic song the crowd went nuts. One cool part of the concert is when Dickinson would yell out during a song, “Scream for me Tampa!” that reminded me of the Live After Death album, which took place in Long Beach, California, and during the songs he would say, “Scream for me Long Beach!” I was wondering if he was going to say that during the concert and he did, with our city name inserted, of course.
I have to tip my hat to the band for still rocking after all these years. Bruce Dickinson is a great singer and showman and was running around like a maniac on stage. Also who could forget the founder of Maiden, Steve Harris on bass, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, and Adrian Smith on guitar, and Nicko McBrain on drums, who all did an amazing performance. I was very glad to get to see this band live and I thank Simon for introducing me to their music. They have been a great influence on me throughout the years and I hope they continue to make music and play live for many years to come.