Entries in Eddie (2)


Kudos to Calgary: Iron Maiden at the Saddledome

We just got back yesterday from our road trip through the national parks of Alberta (BanffJasper) and northern Montana (Glacier). Most of the trip was spent as a family, appreciating the natural wonders, disconnected from technology and population. The trip, though, was really built around last Thursday's Iron Maiden concert at the Saddledome in Calgary.

Wow, I've gotta give credit to the people of Calgary. They know how to put on (and how to attend) a metal show. The lines for food and T-shirts were long, but everyone was in good spirits. I think a lot of us got a kick out of the special-issue Canada 2012 T-shirt showing Eddie as The Trooper riding on a moose from hell. Three of the Hearst-Reynolds clan got shirts, and two of those were the "moose from hell". It just felt right to celebrate Canada's contribution to the show and looking around the arena between acts, I suspect they sold a lot of that particular shirt.

Coheed & Cambria put on a a great set, albeit it short. I've seen them at a festival (Shoreline Amphiteatre and I've seen them headline (The Warfield) and I know they can rule the stage when it's appropriate. In this case, they played the support role well, keeping things short and sweet and getting the crowd amped up for Maiden. I enjoyed hearing their take on Sabbath's "Heaven & Hell", a great match for Claudio Sanchez' voice and the bands eclectic musical approach.

By the time Iron Maiden hit the stage, the Saddledome was packed. That's a good thing because I'd hate any space in the arena to have been wasted. Bruce Dickinson was in true form, singing like a banshee and prowling the stage, egging us fans on to sing along whenever possible. The rest of the band was spot on, both polished and edgy. As always, I spent most of the show fascinated by Steve Harris and his unmistakeable bass techniques. He held my attention effectively, interrupted only by the massive pyrotechnics display, combining flames and fireworks at a level that would make Gene Simmons proud. My son, Zane's jaw dropped and eyes went wide open the first time the flames rose up behind Bruce on his over-drum kit walkway.
I think both kids especially liked the various mechanical and stilt/costume versions of Eddie that were integral to the progression of songs in "Maiden England 2012" set. The only failing for the massive stage production, in my opinion, was the placement of the drum kit. I only saw Nicko McBrain's human form twice during the set, once before the encore and once after the encore. Basically, the walkway for Bruce flanked the drum kit so closely and projected so far forwards and up that (from the midline of the arena where we were sitting) there was no way to see anything except the front of his kick drum and a few cymbals. Nicko is a machine behind the kit and it's a shame we couldn't see his work more closely.

What really struck me is what a great collection of fans shared the Saddledome with us that night. We were not the only full family at the show. We saw tons of parents with their kids; there was another mom/dad/daughter/son combo sitting right in the row in front of us. My wife, Nancy, also commented that there were quite a few women of all ages in the venue, and that's not necessarily the norm at a metal show. Everyone seemed happy to be there and no one seemed interested in fighting or showing how tough they are. We got a lot of smiles from other fans when they saw our two kids with us. Calgary knows how to rock and knows how to make guests welcome, providing a perfect introduction to arena concerts for our two kids.
The next morning, the first breakfast stop we could find on the route out of town was Denny's. For better, or for worse, you know what you're getting at Denny's, so we stopped off to get some food. The waitress brought me a left-behind copy of the Calgary Sun and I quickly stumbled onto a review of the previous night's show. I was a little wary, concerned that it'd end up like so many shows over the years where I had a blast and the "critic" shot holes through the whole thing. We were all pleased to know that the reporter, Gerry Krochak, did in fact attend the same show and was there with the same positive energy that I saw in all the other fans. Gerry's article really captures the mood and feel of the show.
It was a hell of night, and, by now, Maiden has finished up the Canadian leg of their tour. Still, there are still a bunch of U.S. tour dates left. If you've already got tickets, get ready and do not miss the show. If you don't have tickets, beg or borrow your way into a ticket (No, don't steal. That's just stupid - see Michael Todd). This is a "can't miss" tour for any respectable metalhead. Up the Irons!



Maiden Canada

I've mentioned previously that both of my kids are big metal fans and I've mentioned that Bozeman is a lousy place to keep up with metal tours. That's one of my bigger disappointments for all of us in Bozeman, and I'm sensitive to the fact that my kids will not be able to spend their teens hanging out at local all ages shows, checking out the bands like The Squares(Night) RangerMetallicaTestamentExodus and Y&T before they make it big. The first couple of years in Bozeman we just lumped it, streamed concert videos and complained a lot.

This year is different. I already wrote about our trip to Finland and Sweden, centered around seeing Amaranthe in Göteborg. For us serious metalheads, though, one show a summer really isn't enough and as a parent of two kids that love metal, there are certain experiences that it's essential I share with them. Thanks to Iron Maiden's North American Tour - 2012, our other big show for the summer was obvious. It wasn't a question of whether we'd go, just a question of where. The obvious choice is Salt Lake City in terms of a road trip, with Denver and Seattle being close seconds for short hop plane trips. But, for a summer trip and the chance to pass through Glacier National Park on the way, Calgary really was a no brainer.

Nancy and I think it's incredibly important to expose our kids to a variety of experiences. They have been to Yosemite, we make regular trips to Yellowstone and have a long list of national parks and monuments yet to visit. I have similar feelings about making sure they experience certain bands. Sadly, they will never get to see Queen but thanks to videos and documentaries, they've got a good understanding for how magical Queen's live performances were. On the metal side, there are only a few bands that sum up the genre as effectively as Iron Maiden. We're talking about a band that covers all the bases: a scary mascot, comic book like and bigger than life, fast tempos, soaring vocals, songs about stalkers, mythology and warfare. Plus, like Queen, they put on an amazing show.

Bruce Dickinson is a master of getting the crowd involved. Maiden shows involve every single audience member. Admittedly there are times that you simply can't hear Bruce, even when he is singing, because the crowd is singing so loudly. And, somehow, Iron Maiden manages to capture that energy across the entire globe. This isn't a national band, this is a global one. They've honed their chops and their show over decades and they're the perfect band to show our kids where metal came from and why it still lives on despite a complete lack of coverage in the mainstream press.

We've got about a week before the show, and less than that before the road trip begins. I can't wait to share an evening with my kids and enjoy one of the bands that really got me started on this crazy metal ride. I look forward to seeing the stage lights glowing in their eyes, and the periodic jaw-dropping looks of disbelief that I know will grace their faces that night. I want to see them as they watch Steve Harris' crazy dancing spider fingers. Maybe they will wonder, as I did, "How does he play all those great galloping bass lines like that." I've never quite figured it out, to this day.

It really just boils down to a show that can't be missed. Sometimes you just gotta make the effort and go out of your way for the sake of the experience and opportunity. We look forward to traveling through beautiful Alberta and sharing an evening in Calgary with our northern neighbors, enjoying one of the best metal bands ever. Hope to see some of you there!