Sunday, June 22, 2008


We're in the midst of one of those great weekends where we don't have much of anything planned. Which is a good thing because it allowed me to catch up on my sleep. Usually, Friday nights end up being pretty mellow for me after a long week, but that was not the case this week. I ducked out of work a little early to make the trek to see Iron Maiden in Mansfield. I actually had to go to Littleton, which is about 45 minutes from home, to pick up my buddy Gary, who had the tickets. Then it was another 50 minutes or so to get to the Concert Venue Formerly Known as the Tweeter Center (which itself was the Concert Venue Formerly Known as Great Woods). It was nice and sunny in Littleton, but we quickly drove into a nasty band of downpours and lightning as we made our way down 495. We also saw a huge rainbow that would have made Ronnie James Dio proud.

Once we got to the Comcast Center, we parked, did the old "pour your beer in an iced tea bottle" trick and walked around the parking lots to check out the scene. This was almost as entertaining as the show itself, because as a 30+ year-old band, Maiden attracts fans of all ages. Granted, it's 97% guys, but still, we saw a lot of guys with their kids (including some really young children, around 3 or 4--what's up with that?). We saw some guy offer up his girlfriend in a boob-flashing contest with some other woman; the other one was totally up for it, but the girlfriend did NOT look pleased with the situation. Despite much egging on, the contest never materialized because it started pouring. There was some good thunder and lightning, too. We got pretty soaked and got back in the car to wait it out for a few minutes. We then roamed the lots again looking for a bootleg T-shirt salesman; we found a few guys wearing what appeared to be bootleg (i.e., much cheaper than the $35-$50 official merch; there was a nice soccer jersey that sold for $130) shirts and they said they got them for $20 from some guy. But we were unsuccessful and just got more wet before the rain finally stopped.

We skipped opening act Lauren Harris (daughter of Maiden bassist Steve Harris) because I had heard bad reports from my co-worker Brian, who saw the band in NJ back in March (the link isn't to his review, but it was the same show and same setlist) and said Lauren H was pretty awful. We headed inside after her set ended and ran into Brian, who had tickets a section over from us. Once in our seats, we met the guys Gary had to sell his extra tickets to after another friend bailed at the last minute; it was a guy in his early 20s and his dad, who looked to be in his 40s and was a huge Maiden fan. There were a lot of younger fans there who seemed to know all the songs as well. The party started early for some folks; a couple of guys sitting behind us were pretty toasted and had passed out before the show even started.

Our seats were toward the back of the covered section and to the right, but we could still see just about everything. The band played nearly two hours and on this greatest hits tour, played nothing but old classics (unlike last time at Agganis Arena, when they played their new album in its entirety and a few old chestnuts). The place was about 9/10 full and standing and screaming for the whole show. Highlights included "Aces High," "2 Minutes to Midnight," "The Trooper," "The Number of the Beast," "Run to the Hills," "Hallowed Be Thy Name," and yes OJ, "Wasted Years."

Lots of pyro and a series of backdrops with themes from their '80s albums. Singer Bruce Dickinson is in amazing shape for a 49-year-old; his voice still sounds great and he was constantly running around the huge stage set. The band's three-guitar attack was intense and Harris' bass is as much of a lead instrument as any of the guitars. Sure, there were lots of Spinal Tap-ian moments, with copious amounts of fog, especially during the 17-minute "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" when at one point you couldn't see anyone on stage through the fog. Guitarist Janick Gers, who joined the band after Adrian Smith left in the '90s and then stuck around after he came back, was particularly fond of all the flashy guitar-as-machine-gun and flip-the-guitar-around-my-neck moves, but if you can't do that stuff at a Maiden show, when can you?

Afterwards, we sat in the lot for what seemed like forever waiting for the traffic to let out. And as we approached the exit, I spotted the Bootleg T-shirt Guy and called him over. He was selling them for $10, so we got a pretty sweet deal. Mission accomplished, we got the hell out of there, entertained by videos of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Eddie Murphy's "Delirious" concert film on Gary's iPod video (don't worry, I just listened). I made it home by 1:30 for the second time in three nights. Whew.

Cue the 'splosions:
  • After I got home, I watched about 20 minutes of the NHL draft coverage that I had TiVoed earlier in the evening. Of most interest to me was the Leafs traded up to the number 5 position and drafted Luke Schenn, a hulking defenseman who will add much-needed bulk to the Leafs' traditionally soft defense. Also, the Leafs have agreed to a deal with Montreal for captain Mats Sundin; the Habs have until July 1 to work out a contract with Sundin. If it happens, it'll be weird to see him playing for the team's biggest rival, but if they're going to rebuild, they might as well start fresh and give him a chance to win a Cup before he retires.
  • In other Toronto sports news, the Blue Jays fired manager John Gibbons and his staff, which was not a shock given their recent tailspin. But what was surprising was the hiring of Cito Gaston for the rest of the season. Cito led the Jays to their back-to-back World Series titles in '92 and '93 and had been out of baseball for 11 years. Not sure if his laid-back style will help turn things around, but it's worth a shot, I suppose. Of course, they've lost their first two games under him. The pitching's been good this year, but the offense has been dead in the water. I suspect GM JP Ricciardi may not be long for the firing block if things continue like this. Fine by me.

All right, I need to go for a 10-mile run. Later.


Jay Breitling said...

realize! you're living in! the! golden! years!

me and Boris the Bull said...

so tell me, by chance, was the albatross screaming for vengeance?

because that would be cool!