Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Evil That Men Do

A good 30 or so years ago, I was a teenage metalhead. It's a fact and one that I'm not ashamed of. I didn't have a jean jacket with patches on it or anything, but I listened to a steady diet of Sabbath, Priest, Dio and Metallica. But the metal band that really did it for me was Iron Maiden.

They had it all: the twin guitar attack, the operatic frontman, the powerhouse rhythm section and the perfect mascot, Eddie. I stopped listening to the band not too long after I saw them live in 1990; I had just moved on to other types of music by that point and metal itself kind of disappeared from these shores for several years, at least to my mind. But over the last several years, I've gotten back into the old stuff a little bit, and that coincided with seeing Maiden live a few times. The band has hit upon a pretty smart touring strategy, alternating tours of new records with ones celebrating different phases of their past. Four years ago, I saw Maiden play songs based on their Somewhere In Time tour from 1986 and it was awesome.

On Tuesday night at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, they were on the third date of the Maiden England tour, which replicated the1988 tour, which coincidentally was the first time I saw the band live at the Worcester Centrum. That tour was in support of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album, which was pretty good but not as good as the rest of their output to that point.

Alice Cooper opened up and sounded pretty good for a 64-year-old, with a band of young guns backing him up. He did the guillotine thing he's done for the last 40 years, getting his head "chopped off" and had his own version of Eddie, a Frankenstein monster, running around. It was all good fun.

As for Maiden, the band has held up remarkably well after all these years. Singer Bruce Dickinson has the energy of a man half his age, sprinting up and around the massive stage set, changing costumes and bellowing away in between exhorting the crowd to "scream for me, Boston!" Bassist and bandleader Steve Harris, 56, similarly was all over the stage, playing his bass like a weapon and generally kicking ass. The band has had a triple guitar attack for about a decade now, with Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers all trading solos and bludgeoning riffs.

It was great, although marred somewhat by a crappy sound mix. Dickinson's vocals kept cutting in and out at times and the guitars were a little low in the mix. The soundman never quite seemed to get it right. I guess that's the risk you run when you catch a band early in the tour, although the band itself seemed to firing on all cylinders.

Maiden played several songs from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, which was cool. But they also played some great old songs like "Wasted Years," "Phantom of the Opera," "The Prisoner" (which hadn't been played in two decades), "Running Free" and the classics: "The Trooper," "Two Minutes to Midnight," "Number of the Beast," "Run to the Hills," "Aces High." In all, the band played just under two hours and everybody stood and yelled the whole damn time. Aces High, indeed.

1 comment:

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