Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Magic and Maiden

The early years of the nineties saw Iron Maiden go through some changes. Guitarist Adrian Smith left the band and Bruce Dickinson recorded his first solo album. Janick Gers, who played with Dickinson on first solo album “Tattooed Millionaire”, replaced Smith and then Maiden soldiered on until the end of Dickinson’s tenure. This culminated in an event broadcast on MTV in North America and on pay-per-view in Britain as Iron Maiden played their last concert with their famed singer. However, this was more than just a concert as illusionist Simon Drake shared a stage with band performing ridiculous magic tricks. It all adds up to some very cheesy and crazy moments, but it’s very fun to watch.

The set list consists of 17 tracks covering all Maiden’s career up to that point. Other than taking in the band’s performance, Drake pulls some shenanigans during some of the songs. The most ridiculous and comical trick is during “From Here to Eternity.” Drake’s assistants kidnap Dave Murray and then Drake proceeds to cut off Murray’s hands. When it came time for the solo in the song, Drake walks with the hands onto the main stage with Murray’s guitar and plays the solo with his hands. It’s so cheesy, but it’s awesome.

This Drake character is something else. He is dressed in a leather jacket with a tough guy shirt on and his hair is a perfect do. He reminded of the Andrew “Dice” Clay minus the sunglasses. The facial expressions he makes are humorous as well as his horror magic tricks. He tortures some members of the audience who anger him. The neatest trick is when he grabs a member of the audience, puts a sack over his head and cuts if off.  The devious Drake then proceeds to toss the head to his assistants and play soccer with it. To finish the trick off, he grabs a mannequin's head and draws a clown face on it. He then puts the head in the sack and on the beheaded victim and then voila, the guy has his head back, but with a clown face on it. It sounds a bit silly, but it's sweet seeing it.

With the band itself, most of the Maiden classics are present like “The Trooper”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, “Fear of the Dark”, and “Number of the Beast.” It was especially menacing when Dickinson began “Hallowed Be Thy Name” singing on a part of the stage with a hangman’s noose. It was a nice touch and I give much credit for singing a tough song flawlessly.

Some Maiden bites that are not heard that often like the instrumental “Transylvania” and “Bring Your Daughter…To the Slaughter” were a joy to hear, especially the gliding tones of “Transylvania.” I don’t think there is any way the band would want to play “Bring Your Daughter…” live today. “Be Quick or Be Dead” was busted out as the show opener and the aggression is still in place in the live setting. It’s is a really underrated song too; Maiden needs to dust off in the near future.

The last part of the concert is when the cheesiness is taken to another level. Iron Maiden finishes with the song that bears its namesake and as they are taking their final bows, Drake kidnaps Dickinson. Drake then puts Dickinson in an “iron maiden” and kills him! Eddie comes out with a sword and chops off his head and puts it on a spike right next to Paul Di’Anno’s dome. It’s very ridiculous, but it happens except the part about Di’Anno’s head.

The only improvement this special event needed is the sound. The vocals are way too low in the mix for the first few songs and the guitars are way too loud. There were some parts where I could barely hear Dickinson sing and that was frustrating.

“Raising Hell” showcases Iron Maiden at a time of change and at a volatile point of the band’s history. Dickinson sums up it perfectly at the end of the show when he tells the crowd “Well, we’ll see you sometime.” Drake’s horror magic tricks are good for a laugh and some of it is way over the top, but in the end its magic and Iron Maiden. I would definitely watch that on pay-per-view.

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