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Iron Maiden Book Of Souls Tour 2016 Diary

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Last Updated on 11:18 AM by Giorgos Tsekas

The second half of 2014 and the first of 2015 was a rough year for Iron Maiden since Bruce Dickinson was diagnosed with tongue cancer and the whole program of releasing the album and touring got postponed with the whole metal world holding his breath and crossing his fingers. Thankfully, this beast of a man came up strong and healthy within 6 months and so the band released its 16th studio album, and what I believe to be their best since “Brave New World”, “The Book of Souls” on the 4th of September 2016 followed by a world tour starting on the 24th of February and going on for 72 dates until the 4th of August.  They would again go around the world in their own Ed Force One with all the band, crew and complete stage show, this time in an even bigger plane, a Boeing 747-400, piloted by Bruce himself. There is no need to describe what an Iron Maiden tour means for the metal community, it is a global mobile heavy metal party and there are people who program their lives along with it, simply because is so much fun. On a very small scale, this is what I did as well, so instead of going one big and expensive trip in another continent to watch them –as it is still my dream-, I put the maps down, checked the means of transport, the distances and the currencies, invited friends, took days off of work and came up with a total of six concerts. Not bad, yet never enough when it is about the band which has been the soundtrack of your life since you can remember yourself putting on his own music.

 

“Public Enema Number 1”: 31/05/2016, Waldbuhne, Berlin, Germany

That was not even a decision, since this is the city I live in and that would be the third time to see Iron Maiden here. This year they were not playing in the O2 then, Mercedes-Benz Arena now, which is a closed basketball court, but in Waldbuhne, a great amphitheatric venue in the middle of a forest in the very west of the city. Of course the ritual of going to an Iron Maiden concert started days before and on the day of the show drinking started very early, as also our way to the venue.

In the theatre, the 22.000 spectators are spread in 88 rows of seats, the last one being 93 metres from the centre of the stage, plus a rather small arena in front of the stage, in which we got there early enough to secure a spot. As the fans were swarming the venue it was just astonishing to turn your head around and watch this mass of people rising behind you. A very historical place, since it was built by the Nazis to host some of the ceremonies of the 1936 Olympiad, but as Bruce said when he first addressed the Berlin crowd that night concerning the venue: “Fuck history, let’s do rock and roll, shall we?”

The stage was ready and covered, but you could glimpse some corners of the Mayan surroundings that was the theme of this tour. Of course I couldn’t resist in the previous months to watch several videos of the tour, so I was familiar with every aspect of the show, yet there is nothing like the feeling when the time is close at hand as we listen to the usual playlist the band has chosen before their entry (Judas Priest’s “Ram It Down”, Whitesnake’s “In The Still Of The Night”, Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” etc.) and of course UFO’s “Doctor Doctor”, their standard entry song the last years is blasting through the speakers. This is always the sign to be prepared for war, to forget thinking about anything else in your personal life, it is time for the world to stop turning, Iron Maiden is due to go on stage. From the two screens on the sides of the stage the animated intro started, showing Ed Force One stuck in a Mayan jungle and Eddie’s hand setting it free to begin its journey. Maiden makes sure we will always remain kids and this is one of the best things about them. The intro of „If Eternity Should Fail“ is accompanied by smoke and a hooded Bruce over a earthenware jar like Pythia in Delphi and all the chills of the world are upon us. The band enters fiercely and the party begins. There is no point in commenting about the levels of performance and whether they were on a good day or not. I have never seen an Iron Maiden show live, in videos, even on badly recorded bootlegs where they have not given 100% of what they got, even in that wild show in Athens in 1999 when Bruce temporarily abandoned the stage due to the flairs of the crowd a bit before someone spat on Steve Harris. The band is going strong in its 5th decade and the unique juvenile enthusiasm that has been their characteristic since day one has not faded away at all. They are still here to take the world by storm no matter what. Iron Maiden on stage is the absolute exposition of combining passion, devotion, will and professionalism.

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Back to the gig, the single “The Speed Of Light” came second to fire things up in the crowd, as much as a German crowd can get fired up anyway, and Bruce made the first of his infamous speeches before the band moved on to the “Children Of The Damned”. Smith didn’t bring out his twin red Jackson guitar as he did back in the second leg of both the A Matter Of Life And Death Tour in 2007 and the Somewhere Back In Time Tour in 2009 when the song was again in the setlist, but his trademark tapping solo, in his white Jackson for that tour, is an absolute killer. “Tears Of A Clown”, followed and Bruce informed the crowd what they will have to do later on in another song, which made him forget to dedicate this one to Robbin Williams as he did in every other city before and after. Another new song that was greeted warmly, but not as warm as “The Red and the Black” that followed, which is an epic that condenses all of Iron Maiden trademarks with the tempo changes and the anthemic parts that is the joy of the crowd. Backdrop changes and a British flag appears, it is time for the “The Trooper” and Bruce to wear his uniform and start flag waving, always a pleasure to watch. But the real treat came with “Powerslave”, which is not heard as often, 2008-09’s Somewhere Back In Time Tour and before that 1999’s Ed Hunter Tour to be precise. Bruce is still coming out of a big fire, this time from the right side of the drums while in the World Slavery Tour 1984-85 and the Somewhere Back In time Tour it was from the left, without the original mask, but the nacho libre wrestling one that he uses in that tour works well. And that part in the middle with the solos, pure gold…. Then Bruce and his orange monkey with the very long arms, a loot from the Cape Town concert, take over to explain us once again how to behave when we listen to the chorus of „Death Or Glory“. A powerful tune and some nice choreography from the crowd that created some photo moments that actually made their way to the tour video clip of that song that was released just two days after. Things are running fast in the Maiden camp it seems. While introducing “The Book of Souls” Bruce started talking about the rise and fall of empires in an absolute British manner: “Every morning a breakfast and no one asked this question, but one morning a breakfast Mr. Harris thought, fuck me, I wonder what happened to the Mayan civilisation…” just hilarious. The song is a serious case though and towards the end a Mayan Eddie appeared on stage, playing with Gers as all Eddie’s do, but then Bruce took him over in the side and ripped his heart out leaving him staggering around. After squeezing its blood out into the fire, the heart ended up in the audience. Back in 1983 in the Piece Of Mind Tour he used to take Eddie’s brains out, now he is going straight for the heart, what a gem. There was also an obvious change in the volume of the sound, as it got louder in the outbreak of the song, can’t even think of the reason, but so it was.

Half way through and the setlist had no more songs of the new album, which meant it was time for some classics in a row. “Hallowed be thy Name” thankfully made a grandiose return to the setlist after its so much commented absent in the Maiden England Tours and Bruce appeared with a noose playing with it the whole time, even banging some cymbals with it. One of the best metal songs ever written and it was appreciated accordingly with all of the crowd clapping and moving more than usual in its outbreak. By that time the night had taken over the day, so it was the most appropriate moment for “Fear of the Dark”, a standard song in the setlist of the band since the reunion that gets the wildest reactions, you can’t avoid the ‘hit’ effect even in Iron Maiden concerts. The normal sets finishes typically with “Iron Maiden”, where traditionally the Eddie behind the drum kit arises, so we got the cover of the latest album lurking over Nicko’s drums and lots of pyros. Of course we knew they would come back and with the lights turned off the intro of “Number of the Beast” was heard. Then red lights, guitars and vocals, and a huge devil on the right of the stage, bigger than any other in the previous tours looking down on us. Great pyros, screams, mayhem. Then Bruce came forth with his standard “We don’t care about your nationality, religion, color, etc., it is music that unites us” rant, stressing how all Iron Maiden fans are getting together from all over the world to celebrate their passion for music and have a good time. The man is right, ain’t he? And that would be the intro for “Blood Brothers”, a slow song with a great middle part, that was last played in the Final Frontier tour in 2011 and back then I thought of it as the weakest part of the setlist. Yes, it does slow down the succession of all those classics, but now it was put in a better spot in the setlist and made a great couple with “Wasting Years” that immortal tune that was chosen to end the show. Having the Best of the Beast gathering of Eddies as a backdrop and the rig with the latest Mayan Eddie as he appears on the cover of Book Of Souls lowered down in front of them was the perfect exposition of the band’s lineage. This added to the feeling of nostalgia this song always brings along and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the concert. For Iron Maiden knows that the end of the band is coming soon, hopefully when they decide it and not for any other external reason and are showing it with this choice. It is still my favourite Iron Maiden song and Smith’s solo makes my hair raise even if you play it to me under the sea while snorkelling, although he doesn’t play live those few heavenly last notes that come on top of Bruce’s voice as he did in the Ed Hunter Tour in 1999, not even in the original Somewhere on Tour 1986-07. Another objection is that sometimes they play the intro a bit too slow nowadays and another thing noticed is that Murray returned to his Fender for that song leaving the Flying V that he used in the Maiden England Tours 2013-14. The fact that Bruce is having fun with Smith’s microphone not allowing him to sing the backing vocals and fucking up his own verse for that is not so much as a turn off, it also reminds me the show they put on in this German TV show in 1987 when they were made to playback the song and decide to have some fun by changing instruments and doing stupid stuff in general. And it is a somehow Spinal Tap or Monty Python moment of the band that obviously still enjoys it on stage.

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This magnificent concert opened my appetite for more, since seeing the band in such a great shape obviously happy being on stage again and playing new material is the absolute motive to experience the show again and again and again…

 

“2 Minutes To Midnight”: 08/06/2016, Gelredome, Arnhem, The Netherlands

When the tour was announced, Arnhem was the first trip I thought of since I saw Maiden there before and knew that the acoustics and vibe would be great. Being pumped up from the Berlin gig I left alone for the second show, my mind was not blank but full of thoughts about Iron Maiden, music in general, my connection to it and other trivialities of life. Landing in Rotterdam and taking the train to Arnhem in an unexpectedly sunny Dutch day, I had a few hours to spend in the city, which is like every other modern Dutch one, kind of dull with shops all over its centre. Most of the bars were playing rock and metal and some of them were selling Trooper beer in large amounts putting signs everywhere informing the fans. Some marketing spirit, isn’t it? Eventually I drunk my beers in Dollars Rock Café, a rock bar with a live stage that hosted a cover band that had prepared a special Iron Maiden set and some extra wigs, since they weren’t exactly in their youth. They were descent and hilarious and they warmed us up for the show. That’s where I met the Newcastle team with the Arry’s Army British flag, some of them following the band since mid’ 80s, lucky bastards.

The Gelredome Stadium was the first one in Europe with a removable roof and is the home for Vitesse FC, with which 18 years ago Nikos Mahlas won the golden shoe as the first scorer in Europe. If anybody cares that is. When it is hosting concerts the capacity is around 22.000 and that day it was almost sold out. Some Déjà vu moments were unavoidable since I saw the band there exactly five years ago (08/06/2016) for the Final Frontier Tour and I very much hope to meet for the same reason there again in five years. Hanging around the stadium I got the great event t-shirt with Eddie destroying a windmill and meeting people from as far as Israel and Brazil that came for the show. Being close to Amsterdam and with a great train connection more people had the idea to come over from far, very much further than me. I was relatively front in the queue, so I grabbed two beers as soon as I entered and moved to the front, third row actually. The front was full of mostly young people, which is always a great thing, they even cheered for The Raven’s Age, which is another good thing as usually the support acts for Iron Maiden are being neglected, but what was not a good thing was their persistence in keeping their spot and not moving a single limb even when the band threw in the big cards. I even got pushed by a girl who thought I wanted to take her place, when a girl behind me fainted and I tried to move a bit forward in order to inform a security person. This might not be a thrash show with mosh pits and walls of death, but it is not exactly the queue for the toilets as well, it is still a heavy metal show, the level of sweat exchange defines its success, or is it just me?

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As for the show itself, the band entered fiercely and seeing them indoors always enhances their light show, which is top notch, I still believe their best I ‘ve seen was in the A Matter Of Life And Death Tour though. The young ones around me knew mostly the new album and didn’t share my enthusiasm for “Children Of The Damned” or “Powerslave” making me feel like an old fart for once. Of course the band was killing it, Bruce rant’s were there, the monkey dance was there, the comments on the amount of different flags in the audience and all. Before “The Book Of Souls” Bruce made a special mention on Richard Fokker, the Dutch aviator who built several plane models in the beginning of the 20th century, always with his homework done that lad. In his Mayan part of the speech he said that the only survivors of this civilization are with them on stage making Nicko rise from inside his drum fortress asking “Who? Me?”. A bit later Bruce messed up the days thought that it was a Monday, although it was a Wednesday, but who fucking cares, certainly not him. Before “Blood Brothers” he informed us about Nicko McBrain’s birthday few days before. This man’s age has come to the frontman’s centre of attention since that day and was a standard joke for the remaining concerts. In the end of “Wasted Years” he almost dropped Smith’s mic stand before letting him sing one chorus and as they were still playing he started asking him what does he thinks of the concert, like in their morning coffee.

I hadn’t seen the band from that close in a while, they have grown older obviously, a lot of grey and dyed hair, none being bold yet still, but I have to comment on Bruce’s stamina, he is restless and full of energy even at 58 and it is absolutely admirable to see him running and jumping around and sweating his ass off and being in shape so soon after his cancer treatment. After the show, they were dozens of buses coming and going to the train stations making sure everybody found their way home fast and easy. And those Dutch trains full of drunken fans from all over the world were another kind of entertainment.

 

“Hear the rime of the ancient mariner, watch his eye as he stops one of 3…”, 19/06/2016, Graspop Festival, Dessel, Belgium.

I usually avoid big festivals to watch Iron Maiden, for the simple reason that I want to see them among averagely 20.000 of my closest friends that really know what they have attended and not with random festival goers that behave in a different vibe. I knew Graspop didn’t have a great reputation as far as weather conditions and its size being a bit chaotic, but at the end, there is a cause to follow and it was more practical to go there than somewhere else. The trip started with an 8-hour bus drive to Dusseldorf where we spent the night, then a good lunch and a couple of beers and ready to go to the festival which was 1,5 hour away with the car, although you did have to pass from Germany through The Netherlands to finally reach Belgium. There were signs for the festival even at the highway, which made it easy to find our way and many volunteers were showing us in which areas we could park. Unfortunately, during the first two days of the festival there were heavy rains, which flooded the initial parking lots that were closed to the actual festival area, so we had to park in residential areas as far as 10 kilometres from the site of the festival. The buses to pick us up from there were not often, neither fast so we missed half of Saxon’s set, oh well.

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There were a lot of security measures taken, even metal detectors, which is kind of normal since the Brussels airport attack was still keeping people in the country alarmed. What was even more present everywhere was the mud. And in some cases open pissoires were flooding and creating a nice field of piss and mud that was hard to avoid if you wanted to use the bathroom or just to grab a beer. As much as I wanted to see some bands, moving around was extremely hard and the masses of people were huge, so we hang around and stood in specific spots, moved a bit forward and as close to the bar as it gets for Anthrax which were great as always and suffered Trivium that were playing the second main stage. It is amazing how bad those copy bands sound, especially when you know the original is coming up next. So, we moved a bit more to the front, mud had started to climb up our jeans, but who gives a fuck. “Doctor Doctor” and the party started. Iron Maiden were huge on stage as always, giving their all and throwing their songs at our face one by one. Bruce commented on how dry we looked and that he has a hotline with whatever is up there so there would be no rain on the third day of the festival. By then the Nicko’s age joke was more elaborate and Bruce told us that he is so old (legacy) that the Mayans had actually an inscription for him in their stones, which were taken by the band before the British Museum came and steal it as it does with everything. How more politically correct, in a good way that is, can this band be? And he couldn’t fail to comment on the recent attacks in Europe and especially Belgium and opposing it to the big brotherhood that music makes us. He dedicated “Blood Brothers” to the victims of Bataclan, Orlando and Belgium, no discrimination. The message was to celebrate life and chose the path of love rather than fear, always spot on Bruce. And in the intro of “Wasted Years” where he sometimes mumbles some incomprehensible stuff, that time he said “Look after yourselves and I will look after you”. Such a sweetheart. At the end he greeted us warmly and informed us this was the biggest Graspop ever and it definitely looked it was big.

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As soon as Iron Maiden finished, we headed towards the exit, since the Twisted Sister that were closing the festival used to be a beloved band, but that was before they started bitching about everything for no reason and selling out to Donald Trump. And the fucking bus stop was moved a lot further, which was a hassle. Anyway, mission accomplished, Iron Maiden is still the best band in the whole goddamn world proving it every other night this summer in Europe and my tour was already half way through.

 

“Chance your luck, a 4 leaved one…”: 03/07/2016, Wroclaw Stadium, Wroclaw, Poland.

Poland is traditionally a country with big Iron Maiden fans since the band visited it in 1984 for the first time, going to the other side of the ‘iron curtain’ coming back many times since then. I saw them once in Warsaw in 2011 with Motorhead, but this time the only show in Poland was to be made in Wroclaw, probably because it is this year’s cultural capital city of Europe. Germans still call it Breslau, as it used to be the city with the biggest German community eastern of Berlin since the end of WWII. While it has changed name, it is still only 3,5 hours driving from Berlin, so with some friends, enough food and appetite for another Iron Maiden show we went smoothly through the borders, then bumpy for 20 kilometres, to continue through a storm in the straight Polish highway. The fact that we didn’t have a proper navigator and that the only German smartphone we had didn’t have any internet connection in Poland didn’t help much, so we weren’t surprised that after taking several wrong turns as we approached the city we went through its most rich suburbs to end up in the Wroclaw Station and not the Wroclaw Stadium as we wanted. That was about it for tourism and after exchanging greetings and growlings from inside our car with other fellow headbangers, earthdogs, hell rats and rivetheads we arrived at the huge Stadium that was built for the needs of Euro 2014 just two years ago. Huge parking areas, lots of walking, the prohibition of beer in the stadium (!!), long toilet queues and the merchandise being outside made us lose The Raven’s Age set and we entered when Anthrax started playing who were a nice warm up for the main thing.

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Since this trip was organised very late, we didn’t manage to get the golden tickets, which would still cost much less than the normal ones in Germany, so we were on the second half of this immense pitch and forced to watch the band from the furthest I have ever watched them. Combined with the fact it was one of the biggest concerts of this European Tour, the single biggest rock concert ever in Poland as Bruce informed us, with a 38.000 attendance, I think I saw the band more from the screen than the stage and we could hear the delay of the front speakers as we were mostly listening from the ones that are behind the sound engineer’s tent. It might not have been the ideal conditions, yet when “Doctor Doctor” kicks in nothing matters. And the band was in a very good mood watching all those people coming to see them, Bruce gave a tremendous performance, the ending of “Speed Of Light” especially was magical. Of course he commented on the first time they visited the country and that by then it has gained its freedom and also connecting it with how old “Children Of The Damned” is. “The Trooper” was welcomed with a flare in the arena that Bruce was observing discretely but kind of worried, you know, the Athens ’99 experience… He also commented on the France vs Iceland Euro game score, two years ago in the Maiden England Tour he was announcing the results in the middle of “A Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”, news need to be spread whatever the cost may be. He also told us that the band played a game of its own the previous day but lost 10-1, there is a video of them playing football in Poland in 1984, with a rather good performance, time takes its toll I suppose. Before “Death Or Glory”, Bruce informed us that the song is about Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, who was born in this city and then turned it into the Empire thing and you know what follows next by now with the monkey dance. But before that he commented again about Nicko’s age, although he added one year by mistake rounding it in 65 and then the Polish crowd sang what was probably a ‘happy birthday’ song to him. Not bad at all.

In that show I rediscovered “The Number Of The Beast” for some reason. You know, that feeling when you first listen to a song and you think it is the coolest thing on earth? This has been long gone from the multiple times I have listened to it since a long time, but that night in Poland I fell in love with it again and it was just great. I hope that happens with “The Trooper” soon sometime.

After another amazing “Wasted Years” Bruce gave Nicko the mic to “Say something” and he addressed the Polish crowd saying how they fucking rock and how better they look with age and of course he ended his praise with a grandiose “God bless you”. Already on the way out when all this was happening, we left in a hurry to hump in the car and find our way in the highway before the other thousands of drivers and went straight through the dark to our home base even without a navigator, or was it a ghost of it that helped us?

 

“Cause at 5 o clock they take me to the gallows pole…” 26/07/2016, Piazza d’ Unita, Trieste, Italy

I’ve seen Iron Maiden in basketball courts, football stadiums, open fields, landing grounds, in theatres in the woods, on top of hills and next to the ocean, now it was time to see them in a square. And what a square that was. First things first, arrival in the airport of Venice, no time for gondolas and Piazza St. Marco, just an hour of wandering around the much less prettier district of Mestre. The train ride along the north Italian coast watching Slovenia from the other side was already a treat, but Trieste is something else. The once only port of Austrian-Hungarian Empire is a coastal city that expands uphill providing an amazing view and a very diverse scenery. And the square the concert was being held was Unida d’ Italia, three sides of historical buildings and one side of sea. There was enough time to sweat my ass stralling through the narrow city streets mingling with other fans and actually the road crew. You could listen to the sound check, see how they set up the stage even watching them eat at their catering tent. It was pretty much a transparent situation and a very practical one, as the square was exactly at the centre, ten minutes walking from the train station with all kinds of shops and points of interest a breath away. Despite the weather being damn hot, when the fans had already formed long queues in the four entrances, some loud thunders were heard who were greeted with joy. Even when the rain started falling few were discouraged and left their precious spot. By the time we entered, actually just crossed some barriers, the sun had started setting among the clouds creating a genuinely romantic scenery.

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Thankfully I managed to take the event t shirt, with Eddie as a gladiator in the Colliseum, probably the best design of the tour and then, pardon me The Raven Age, I slept for half of their set next to an ambulance. Pretty reviving actually and before you know it, bam, “Doctor Doctor” and the call to arms had signalled. By then the buildings around the square were lit and the intro of “If Eternity Should Fail” seemed better than ever. Unfortunately, the band, always in great spirits, did not sound better than ever and that is the price to pay for open air concerts in places not made for ones.

Bruce was a bit out of focus that night, he thought that the song they always dedicate to Robbin Williams was called “Man Of Sorrows” instead of “Tears of a Clown” and I am pretty sure he said “scream for me Roma” a couple of times. On top of that, in “Powerslave” he had to put out part of the fire by stepping on it while singing the song as a proper multitasking person he is. Of course he commented on the scenery and the importance of this square, joking with the age of the buildings and the one of “Children Of The Damned” and included ancient Rome in the long list of Empires that have appeared and vanished through the ages. His monkey stunt has been enriched by a full face monkey mask that was thrown to him on stage in Prague few weeks before, this tour was adding up stuff every other city, that made my efforts worth it even more to try to catch up everything. By that time in the tour what started in Wroclaw with Bruce giving the mic to Nicko at the end became a standard procedure only this time by saying “A word from our sponsor” which must be an inside joke for them since it is traceable back to the Dance Of The Death Tour in 2003. And Nicko practiced his Italian well that night. Which was a pretty warm night as said and very often you could see in the two screens the band members taking the sweat of their brows and their clothes were vividly soaked in sweat. The show must go on though and despite the heat, the Italian crowd was going for it, it was certainly a night with a great vibe. The site, the people, the weather, everything made it one of the best nights of my tour. Literally 5 minutes after the gig was over, we were sitting in a bar nearby drinking a beer watching the rest of the 12 thousand fans that were there that night going about their way and that made it the easiest concert of Iron Maiden I have ever seen from a practical point of view, till the next one.

 

“666 The Number of The Beast”: 30/7/2016, Piața Constituției, Buchares, Romania

Iron Maiden is the favourite band for some, a way of life for others, both plus a good reason for tourism for myself. Arranging to see them in Romania would be a nice occasion to visit the city of Bucharest for a couple of days and also to be done with the Balkan countries, since I have seen the band in Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia (stands for Yugoslavia) before. Since the tour was not passing by Greece this time, as the two Maiden England tours sadly hadn’t have before, this would be the closest one to the country and the participations of Greek fans was expected to be high. Well, the plane we took from Athens was full of Iron Maiden t shirts, the same were a couple more flights as we heard, plus two buses from Thessaloniki, so that makes it hundreds of Greek fans swarming Bucharest for that gig.

The city is full of antitheses, old royal buildings next to ones from the communist period and those next to huge modern malls to remind the prevalence of capitalism in the 21st century. Huge squares, the biggest ones I have ever seen, remnants of the communist regime, and around them dodgy little streets with dark corners so you can revive the lyrics of “Fear of the Dark” in a proper way. The food was nice and cheap, the people were mostly friendly and the night life was a mixture of the sex industry of Amsterdam and the easiness of Athens. And of course Iron Maiden fans every-fucking-where. At the day of the gig it was around 35 degrees with a lot of humidity and even some drops of rain, a jungle like feeling. The whole European tour was filled with rains and high temperatures, but the band didn’t slow down a second, everything was in place, in the same pace and intensity. The concert was held in front of Palace of the Parliament, Palatul Parlamentului in Romanian, the biggest building of Europe, the third biggest and the first heaviest in the world, built by Nicolae Causesku, a pharaonic site that Bruce said was “ugly” and that the man who built had “his share of Empire” as well.

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The area in front of the stage that hosted around 18 thousand fans was divided into three categories and the diamond circle in front of it, still much cheaper than the regular tickets compared to western European stops of the tour, seemed a bit pricey for the local crowd. I always hated this kind of division that is made more for squeezing off fans’ money than security reasons, it is a proper class discrimination making the show for the ones with less money a spectacle from far away. So be it, we were in front, in a very well organised space, with immediate access to the bars and toilets and very much to the front of the stage. The Raven Age’s set was once again the best time to get drunk and then as the setting sun was creating amazing colours on the Romanian sky “Doctor Doctor” made sure we get in the proper positions. Once again Iron Maiden delivered the goods and by now I could notice more details on the set and the members’ movements. Since the pit was full of Greeks, Bulgarians etc. the crowd was a bit warmer than other times, but still you would get weird looks or even discretely elbowed if you happen to scream all the lyrics because you happen to actually know them or jump around in “Powerslave” for example. How dare we… At some point a Greek flag landed at Bruce’s feet and he commented that it was the first time he saw one in this tour and that this used to be a great civilization, but not anymore. It is called demystification of your national illusions and it is simple, thanks Bruce. Another flag, the one of FYROM, or Republic of Macedonia if you prefer, was taken by Janick Gers and put in his guitar and it looked cool with its intense red and yellow colours. It was a proper Balkan party that night as you can imagine. Unfortunately, there was something wrong with the stage set up, because we never saw the Mayan Eddie rising behind Nicko in “Iron Maiden”, the devil barely made it to appear half way through “The Number Of The Beast”, while it usually is there even before it starts and the lights in “Blood Blothers” took too long to be turned on and that was made gradually. Small details as the band was ripping it, but the ones who travelled from afar to watch the full show were unlucky. And even though I have heard “Wasted Years” around 10 times live since ’99 that was the first, I will never stop throwing my hands up to the sky to that.

Soaked in sweat we took the not so long walk home and continued the night with more Maiden madness in the city and the hostel. Of course the flight back was full of smiling Maiden fans that had experience a tour that unfortunately couldn’t pass by Greece and make happy thousands of fans that are waiting for them for years.

 

After The War

What does an Iron Maiden fan become? Well, it was a hell of a period, full of interesting and sometimes adventurous trips and excitement that left me with lots of memories and one of Nicko’s drumsticks from the Bucharest gig, and I can’t wait to do it again. Of course, I wish I would have written this diary 30 years ago and talk about the Somewhere on Tour ’86, or any tour before or after this one for that matter, but one has to deal with what he is given, so this was a personal tour diary of the Iron Maiden Book of Souls European Tour for the year 2016 and it wasn’t bad at all.

Actually it was a blast and left me reassured that Iron Maiden were, are and will be the best, but not for long. Soon they will reach their human limits and they will let their musical legacy go on forever, which is sad and nostalgic for us who happened to live at the same time and witness them on stage for a good part of their journey. At least we will have something to tell our grandchildren when all this will be musical history. Yet, the moral of the Iron Maiden story is that we always need to look on the bright side of life and that is the only way to go. Up The Irons.

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AstralKannibal
AstralKannibal
Kannibalizing The Astral Plane

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