Iron Maiden. Comfort Dental Amphitheater. 08.13.12

Reverb just posted a behind-the-scenes look into Psychopathic Records’ “The Gathering of the Juggalos” festival that took place in rural Illinois this past week.  While browsing through the black & white photos, I went through a series of emotions — curiosity, apprehension, horror, repulsion, and even a little respect for those people who sincerely don’t give a fuck what I think about them. It was a true gamut of emotions which seemed to include everything except ‘understanding’.  The music of Insane Clown Posse, along with those who follow it, is just something I will never understand.  That being said, there are those who would say the same thing about Iron Maiden.

Those of us who sport Eddie t-shirts and throw the devil horns as a sign of approval might not wear clown makeup and walk around the woods naked, while smoking blue meth and spitting yellow Faygo, but we are part of a subculture that the average mainstreamer does not understand.  Admittedly it’s much larger subculture than those who call themselves Juggalos and Juggalettes, but it is a subculture just the same.  A bunch of guys (or girls) walking around suburbia in Iron Maiden shirts are sure to elicit the same response as those dressed as clowns, if not worse, but last night at the local CB & Potts Restaurant & Brewery, the mainstreamers were the minority.  Lost in a sea of denim and ‘too-small-for-me’ concert tees from the 80’s, they couldn’t get out fast enough.  It was immediately obvious that Iron Maiden was back in town and that this particular section of the Tech Center now belonged to those who understood what that meant.

Scream for me Denver!”  Although I never actually saw Iron Maiden in the 80’s due to being underage at the time, I still hear “Long Beach” whenever Bruce Dickinson incites the crowd with those words.  Whether it be L.A., Concord or Denver, I always hear those words which were yelled in Long Beach, CA in March of ’85, and later immortalized on Live After Death, “Scream for me Long Beach!”  The fact that Dickinson can still sound so close to what he sounded like all those years ago, along with the fact that everyone who played those shows can still play like they played back then, make Iron Maiden one of the few bands that literally found a way to transcend time and old age.  To those of us within this subculture, Iron Maiden are truly a timeless entity.

Over the past five years or so, Maiden has come through with heavily curated concert tours with precisely planned setlists.  Whether it be a focus on 80’s material with the “Somewhere Back in Time World Tour”, or a focus on the past decade with the “The Final Frontier World Tour”, the artwork, props, pyrotechnics and various versions of Eddie were all designed to fit the theme of the tour.  Both of those tours were mind-blowing to anyone schooled in their extensive catalog, but the “Maiden England World Tour” is the one I have been most excited for, because it is the one that is based on the “Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour” (and the following Maiden England video) that happened in ’88.  That tour came through Sacramento in June of that year and my parents wouldn’t let me go.  It was a heartbreaking disappointment.  So the chance to see a modern day recreation was something I was not going to miss!

Comfort Dental Amphitheater is one of the worst places to see a show.  The location sucks.  The parking sucks. The corporate feel of it sucks.  The noise ordinance sucks.  It is literally the opposite of Red Rocks.  There are very few shows that are worth the trip out there, but Iron Maiden seem to play there a lot.  Hopefully this won’t be the case next time.  After opening with an epic string of classics including “Moonchild”, “Can I Play With Madness”, “The Prisoner” and “2 Minutes To Midnight”, Dickinson made it very clear how he felt about the venue in Englewood when he called on us to “burn it to the fucking ground!“.  His first complaint was around the noise ordinance “Who the fuck complains about noise? Why would you bother about noise if you’re near a rock concert?“.  Then there was the stage itself …”We’ve outgrown this venue a bit in Spinal Tap fashion. We have ten trucks and can’t bring in all the special effects.”   I’m not sure what effects they couldn’t bring in, but with enough pyrotechnics to actually burn the place down, along with different artwork for every song and more than one gigantic mechanical Eddie, I’d say we got our money’s worth!

Iron Maiden’s appeal has always gone beyond the music.  There is an attraction to their artwork that kids never outgrow.  The disapproving look on my wife’s face when I bring home another t-shirt is always priceless, especially because I know I will not wear it again until the next Iron Maiden show.  In all honesty, I’d probably still have grotesque Eddie images on my walls if I weren’t married.  This art is so ingrained into the band’s persona that they merely flash an image above the stage and the fans immediately know what song is coming next.  But in reality, all the art in the world wouldn’t save them if the music wasn’t there.  These tours that revisit the past would almost be sad if the band couldn’t perform the way they did decades ago.  Amazingly enough, they can.  I’m not saying these 50-year-old dudes are performing like they did when they were in their 20’s, but I am saying they are performing better than most of those that are half their age.

A play-by-play would be redundant here.  The fans can just check the setlist below to get an idea of how the show was.  Those who arn’t fans have stopped reading by now anyway.  What I will say is that the stage effects were as good, if not better, than those used by Skrillex the other night.  The difference is that this show also had seasoned musicians playing incredible rock music with real instruments.  So whoever crowned that DJ “the new face of rock and roll” needs to be introduced to Eddie…preferably the one on the Killers album cover.

Can I Play With Madness
The Prisoner
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Trooper
The Number of the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Run to the Hills
Wasted Years
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
The Clairvoyant
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Aces High
The Evil That Men Do
Running Free