Well Worth the Wait – I Finally Saw Iron Maiden!

I’m no longer a Maiden virgin.

Last night, English heavy metal band Iron Maiden ROCKED AUSTIN when they came through on their “Maiden England 2013” tour, and I’m here to tell you that the show they put on was nothing short of SPECTACULAR. My first time with this band could not have been better. The concert was every bit the legendary Iron Maiden theatrical feast for the eyes and ears I’ve glimpsed in videos, but never thought I’d get to experience live.

Iron Maiden was extraordinary!

They performed at the Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of the Americas, which is the home of the new Formula 1 racing track, so it’s Out There, compared to where we live. We rented a car for the occasion, facilitated by the fact that there’s an Avis conveniently located within easy walking distance from our apartment. As you might expect at a world-class racing track, the outdoor amphitheater was enormous… but it wasn’t big enough! We found ourselves in cozy company with hundreds of other screaming fans. The Austin360 amphitheater is the largest permanent stage in Central Texas with a total capacity of 14,000, and it was sold out for Iron Maiden.

We had lawn tickets, but we scored some high metal barstools where they were lined up on elevated concrete slabs behind a rail at the edge of the lawn. Positioned directly in front of the stage on the bottom-most slab, we enjoyed a fantastic view. It had rained earlier, so the night air was balmy and pleasant… the weather was beautiful for an outdoor concert at night. The ambience was amazing.

Going in, my expectations weren’t set too terribly high since the guys are older now… I wanted to give them that, to be fair. I was not expecting to be completely stunned by a powerful, high-octane performance that could only be described as phenomenal. This was the ultimate metal concert. The stage sets, the props (which included robotics and pyrotechnics), the sound and the musical performance, itself – the show’s theme seemed to be centered on Maiden’s 1988 Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album – combined to result in first-rate entertainment. It was all put together to staggering visual and auditory effect.

Iron Maiden gave us a show that was 110% heart and what had to be every ounce of their physical endurance. Throughout the hour and forty-five minute performance, they sprinted around and took flying leaps across the stage, constantly rearranging themselves from one end to the other. Bruce Dickinson appeared everywhere with swift agility, singing from both levels of the set and frequently wielding his mic like a harpoon. No way would I ever have guessed that these guys are in their mid-to-upper 50’s! Dickinson’s voice was spot-on impeccable, strong and clear, and his singing was as close to perfect as it gets. He might be aging, but his voice and lungs are clearly not.

Want to know what we paid for these tickets? A mere $40.00 each. That was all. (Black Sabbath was much more expensive.)

I took over a hundred photos, 16 of which I’m posting here. I regret to say that these are not good pictures. I’m not a photographer, and my camera has limited capabilities, so it was impossible to capture the dynamic stage presence, stamina, charisma and athleticism of these guys… but here they are, anyway – my attempt to give you an idea of what our four eyeballs raked in.

The entrance to the brand new and larger-than-life Circuit Of The Americas, which hosts Formula 1 races (a Renault F1 car sits there to attest of it) to X Games. It also vibrates to the tune of various concerts in the 360 Theater at its center.

The entrance to the brand new Circuit Of The Americas, which hosts everything from Formula 1 races (a Renault F1 car sits there in front) to X Games to concerts.

 

The stage from afar... the opening set

The stage from afar… the opening set

 

"The Prisoner"

“The Prisoner”

 

In constant motion!

In constant motion!

 

"The Clairvoyant," I think.

“The Clairvoyant,” I think.

 

Shadows and light

 

A long, vibrant and inspired "Phantom Of The Opera" took us on a lengthy musical journey.

A long, vibrant and inspired “Phantom Of The Opera” took us on a lengthy musical journey.

 

Bruce and his infamous flag, singing "The Trooper"

Bruce and his infamous flag, singing “The Trooper”

 

“The Trooper”

 

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“Run to the Hills”

 

The crowd didn't have room to run up and down the grass of Circuit of the Americas, but some thrashing went on while the 10-foot General Custer roamed the stage, threatening to cut Adrian Smith's throat with his 4-foot sword.

The crowd didn’t have room to run up and down the grass of Circuit of the Americas, but some thrashing went on while the 10-foot General Custer roamed the stage, threatening to cut Adrian Smith’s throat with his 4-foot sword.

 

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Run to the Hills!

 

Two-story Eddie, representing "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son."

Two-story Eddie, representing “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”

 

The "Can I Play With Madness" set.

The “Can I Play With Madness” set.

 

An animatronic "Eddie" oversees "Can I Play With Madness."

An animatronic “Eddie” oversees “Can I Play With Madness.”

 

Our favorite visual: "Aces High."

Our favorite visual: “Aces High.”

 

 

(Many thanks to Callaghan for re-sizing the images for me while I wrote this text!)

The band’s energy was infectious, too. Afterward, we were so keyed up, we were famished. We ended up at the drive-through of the nearest Taco Bell at half-past midnight, where I ordered a black bean burrito with no cheese, and Callaghan ordered a 7-layer burrito.

And now, we still have this rental car on our hands, so we’re going to take advantage of it and go get heavy things in bulk, such as kitty litter. Also, we’re heading out to Round Rock tonight to meet up with some people Callaghan knows for cheap drinks. (Can’t argue with $3.00 beers for him and free club soda for me!)

“You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll”

On Saturday night, we went to see Black Sabbath, as in, the British hard rock band that was formed in 1968, the year I was born. As in, yeah, these guys are a bit older now, so can you believe that I actually got to see them perform?

Last month, they released 13, their first studio album in 33 years, and the album took off. After its first week, it sold 155,000 copies and inexplicably ripped its way around the Billboard obstacle course, spiraling up to hit Number One on the charts in the UK, USA and seven other countries. With this accomplishment, Sabbath secured the Number One spot for the first time in history and escorted hard rock/metal done the old-fashioned way back onto the scene. At the concert, we saw many people our age and older, but we picked out all age groups in the massive crowd. The teenagers in the seats in front of us were probably no older than fifteen.

I was beside myself with excitement over this show. It really meant a lot to me.

I’m passionate about many different types of music, including classical, EBM/industrial, (some) rap and (some) country and a smattering of other genres, but since I’m talking about Black Sabbath here, I present the following brief chronology of my history just as a hard rock/metal fan:

(First, let me just say that it’s my parents who rock. They survived the years I skulked around in a Black Sabbath t-shirt and chains while they observed other people’s daughters looking cute and preppy in pink Izod shirts [and who went off to college immediately after high school. I was the only daughter they knew who joined the Army and went to war and did the whole college/grad school thing later. But that’s another story]).

–Sixth grade: I bought Back in Black, AC/DC’s new album. I was 12, and Back in Black was the first album I ever purchased myself, which established hard rock as my first love of all the genres of music. I was taking piano lessons, so I was listening to Chopin waltzes, too, among other things, but I didn’t blast Chopin waltzes. I blasted AC/DC, loudly and frequently. My parents started to wonder what was happening.

–Grades seven and eight: my friends and I fixated on Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman. We shed real tears the tragic day Randy Rhodes, Ozzy’s phenomenal guitarist, died in a plane crash. The gloom that blanketed the world of music that day fell heavily upon the halls of Steinbeck Junior High in San Jose, California. Rhodes was a legend, but we felt like we’d lost our brother. I don’t know. We were 13 years old. We were like, “Randy Rhodes is dead? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW?” It was inconceivable.

–Grades nine-twelve: High school. I listened to ALL the metal out there – and it was a lot, remember… this was the 80’s hair-band era – but AC/DC, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and Ozzy were my favorites in the genre. Also, I spent many a Saturday afternoon listening to Iron Maiden with the guy who worked the bar at Shakey’s Pizza. (David. Funny that I still remember his name!) It was cute. Though we really liked each other, nothing “happened” when we were hanging out – he was a lot older than me – but he got me hooked on Maiden with Killers, and that was it. To this day, Killers is still my favorite Iron Maiden album, and Maiden is still one of my favorite metal bands.

–During and after the Army, Queensrÿche, D.A.D., Faith No More, Vixen, Warlock, Savatage, Megadeath, Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica were some of the bands that joined the crew in my metal music collection. I also really enjoyed guitarist Joe Satriani, and my love for Alice Cooper’s Trash album bordered on obsession.

–Flash forward to 2003, when I discovered Disturbed’s The Sickness while training in Muay Thai at an MMA gym in Arizona. My trainer kept it cranked, and I loved it so much that I had to own it. I bought it and wore it out in my little truck. The significance of this is that The Sickness was the last metal album that I actually purchased until Sabbath released 13 last month. (This is not to say that there weren’t other bands in the interim, because there were. I just didn’t go out and buy any metal CDs between Disturbed in 2003 and Black Sabbath last month.)

What can I say about Saturday’s show?

It was definitely An Experience. The guys did a fantastic job overall. We had a solid good time, and I will never forget it.

It was an incredible feeling just to be there.

 

Waiting for the show to start. We got there early.

Waiting for the show to start. We got there early.

 

What I really took away from the show was a reinforced crush (maybe not a “crush” so much as some sort of hero-worship thing) on lead guitarist Tony Iommi, who is a God.

Iommi lost two of his fingertips in a factory accident when he was a teenager, but that didn’t stop him from doing what he knew he was born to do. He fashioned some “thimble-like devices” out of a “squeezy bottle” and stuck them on the ends of his amputated digits to extend them, then went on to play guitar for Jethro Tull before co-founding Black Sabbath with Ozzy, Geezer and Bill. They were a bluesy kind of hard rock band at first. From there, they evolved into their signature sound and ultimately grandfathered heavy metal and all of its derivatives. Yes… one of history’s greatest hard rock lead guitar legends has amputated fingertips.

 

Tony Iommi, lead guitarist and co-founder of Black Sabbath

Tony Iommi, lead guitarist and co-founder of Black Sabbath

 

Quoting from wiki: “Iommi is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential rock guitarists of all time. A prolific riff-maker, he was ranked number 25 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’.”

Fake fingertips, okay? And I mean, not costly, sophisticated works of custom-made, medically engineereed craftsmanship, either. We’re talking homemade fake fingertips that he stores in what appears to be an old Altoids tin:

 

 

The man is tireless, in possession of a relentless drive, an admirable work ethic. He’s constantly busy. The solo album he released in 2000, called, simply, Iommi, is a veritable piece of musical collaborative genius and one of my all-time favorite metal CDs. (I introduced it to Callaghan, and it’s now one of his favorites, too.)

Yet young at 64, Iommi’s now working to beat down lymphoma. Blood cancer. Where was he on Saturday night? Here in Austin, on stage, rocking his ass off. His performance was spectacular. I sat back in my seat and closed my eyes, listening to his solos in the dark with people around us screaming, and thought, Wow. That’s Tony Iommi on that stage down there!! I never thought I’d get to hear him play live.

You know, Ronnie James Dio, who took over Sabbath’s lead vox after Ozzy’s departure in 1979, died of cancer in 2010. (Why yes, we did name our kitty Ronnie James after him!)

 

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

Ronnie James with my headphones on the left. Ronnie James Dio with his mic on the right. NOT UNLIKE.

 

“It’s only now, since his passing, that people are coming out saying how great he was,” Iommi says of Dio in a “good-bye message” he videotaped in 2011.

 

(video cuts off at 1:48)

 

Iommi received his own cancer diagnosis within a year of this interview, in early 2012.

News for you, Iommi: YOU are great. YOU ARE THE MAN. You’re looking good and performing like it’s no one’s business, and thank you so much. Thank you for inspiring us with your passion and dedication! Here’s to many more years of showing them all how it’s done!!

Here’s my favorite Black Sabbath song, “Megalomania” (Sabotage, 1975):

 

 

And here are a few pics we took before, during and after the concert…

 

Callaghan, mid-stride

Callaghan, mid-stride

 

Me, pausing for a snapshot outside of Consuela on Congress

Me, pausing for a snapshot outside of Consuela on Congress

 

 

From left: Geezer Butler (bass), Tony Iommi (guitar), Ozzy Osbourne

From left: Geezer Butler (bass), Tony Iommi (guitar), Ozzy Osbourne

 

OZZY

OZZY

 

The Texas State Capitol, a gorgeous building. We walked through the grounds to get to the concert and back to our bus on Congress.

The Texas State Capitol, a gorgeous building. We walked through the grounds to get to the concert and back to our bus on Congress.

 

Me with Ronnie James as I was writing this. Ronnie James loves him some headphones!

Me with Ronnie James as I was writing this. Ronnie James loves him some headphones!

 

 

 

 

Lullaby Fail

“So I’m listening to this documentary about Charles Manson? They’re at Roman Polanski’s house, you know, where it happened, and the music they’re playing is Rosemary’s Baby, haha!”

Hmm. It seems that my husband can no longer resist telling me about his documentaries, and I’m glad. I learn so much from them! I’m not being sarcastic, either. Before today, I’d been unfamiliar with the Rosemary’s Baby music, so when Callaghan mentioned it, I went online. Because this was research I had to do. Having never seen the movie, all I knew about Rosemary’s Baby was that there’s this woman named Rosemary, and she has a baby, and the baby turns out to be evil. And now, I also know that the music from this movie is haunting enough to have been used as the music in a documentary about Charles Manson, who I do know about. See how this comes around in a circle? Isn’t it great?

The music was easily found on YouTube. I closed out after 1.30, because by then, the theme was clear: “la la la la ” set against tinkly music. I assume this was meant to be a lullaby composed for an evil baby. I also assume that the lullaby didn’t work… the baby probably never slept, as it was allegedly busy killing and eating everybody. This gets me thinking about the impact of music on babies. If the la la la la tinkly music lullaby didn’t work on Rosemary’s Baby, then maybe Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden would have done the trick? Baby reverse psychology?

Of course, I’ll never get to test my theory, since I’ll never have a baby. I had a radical hysterectomy (aka “bilateral salpingo oophorectomy and hysterectomy”), which I’m pretty sure prevents me from getting pregnant. But hey! What I can do is test the theory on a goat. We’d simply hire a male pygmy goat to impregnate Sharpie, our female pygmy goat, and voilà! We wait for the birth, play Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden (might as well use both), and stand back to see whether the baby goes on a killing spree or settles down to be as sweet and demure as its mother. If it turns out to be the mass murderer that Rosemary’s Baby allegedly was, then we can deduce that my theory was incorrect. Genius, if I do say so myself!

And since we’re responsible neighbors, we’ll first warn Michel down the way that a baby goat might come along to kill and eat him, his wife and menagerie.

I can’t wait for Callaghan to quit work for the day so I can tell him my plan!