Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Maiden in Monterrey

The preparation was on for the whole week - day started, continued and terminated with Maiden tracks. We were counting days and finally it was 22nd day of the second month of the holy year 2008 - The D-Day. We filled our think tanks with barrels of beer and headed to Arena Monterrey, we were among 20000 metal devotees waiting for the immortal, legendary and the best heavy metal band to ever tread this holy earth - IRON MAIDEN!!! They were stopping by in Monterrey, which was a part of their Somewhere back in time - World tour 2008.

We heard pathetic girly cries sounding "Let me see your arms in the air Monterrey", which I didn't take much time to identify. The same babe who received countless middle fingers in Bangalore last year - Lauren Harris. But thankfully by the time we got settled in our seats she was done with her performance and I was glad about that. The lights were switched on, more devotees were pouring in, the beer sellers were getting restless taking orders. Beer was served in mugs with Eddie prints on it, a perfect souvenir for the fans. Crowd was getting restless shouting "Maiden Maiden Ooooo Oooooo Oooooo" and it was almost 9, Gods were supposed to start at 8:30. Arena looked like a black coloured ocean. There were Sodom, Metallica, Sepultura, Nirvana, Pink Floyd and other great bands on the uniform of the devotees.

At about 5 to 9, the lights went dark and we were screaming our throats out. Out the blues we started seeing the Ed Force on the screen, the welcoming of the Gods by the devotees in airport which was immediately followed by B55s flying high with Churchill motivating the English to defend their island and within no time the riffs had started and we knew it all...Aces high was being bestowed upon us by the Gods themselves. The stage was illuminated, guitarists were seamlessly riffing while Bruce, dressed in army cargo, in his manly voice started "There goes the siren that warns of the air raid..." and we went completely insane with 20000 devil horns in the air and singing along.

2 Minutes to Midnight, started almost without any pause and the whole Arena thundered during the chorus - 2 minutes to midnight The hands that threaten doom 2 minutes to midnight To kill the unborn in the womb. Revelations followed next, with a mind blowing intro riff.

Since we were located on the side of stage, we had a partial view of the backstage. We could see Bruce wiping his sweat off, every now and then. But this time, he was there for a different purpose, we saw him wearing the red attire - we knew what was up next. As Revelations got over, the Anthem, which every Iron Maiden fan wouldn't mind dying after listening, started and Bruce was waving the mighty English flag all over the stage. It received the loudest sing along response among all other songs. Bruce has this rare capability of hypnotising his fans, thereby gaining complete control over them, enslave them. Yeah!!! We were enslaved by the Bruce and his teammates. And this is especially true when they belt out the anthems - The Trooper, Fear of the Dark, Hallowed be thy Name, Number of the Beast, Run to Hills, Can I Play with Madness.

The Trooper was followed by one of my all time favorite tracks, Wasted Years, the track which could be rechristened "Mind blowing leads". Two more classic tracks followed - Run to Hills and Number of the Beast, which was well echoed by the crowd. Then came the most awaited and the longest track ever recorded by Iron Maiden, the epic, thanks to Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He opened the track with "The moral of the story is, what not to do if a bird shits on you...The Rrrrrrrriiiimmmmmmmeeee of the Ancient Mariner!!!". Not many knew this song verbatim, only the chorus resounded loud. This was followed by a song from their 6th album album Somewhere in Time, Heaven can wait. Two more anthems were belted out - Fear of the Dark and Can I Play with Madness. Fear of the Dark is a spell binding classic which has been played in almost every concert of Iron Maiden. It's a song where the crowd not only sang along, but also filled in the instrumental part..."Ooooooo Ooooooo Oooooo" thingy which is so typical of Maiden concerts. Bruce was so active on stage during Fear of the Dark, that the best gymnast would envy his agility.

Then followed the song about the Egyptian pharaoh, Powerslave. Bruce wore a mask made of long feathers and the stage containing Eye of the Horus and other Egyptian hieroglyphs came into life with this song. The backdrop of Eddie faced Sphinx took us back to the in time, like a deja-vu, to Egypt. Title track Iron Maiden followed next, half way through the song, Eddie hailed from a dark curtain. It was magnificent, it was red, it was tall, it was armoured, it was mind blowing. It traversed the stage making gestures at crowd. Janick Gers kept kicking and provoking Eddie, at the same time effortlessly swinging his guitars and playing it too.

The stage went dark, we could see band members returning back stage in the faint light, crowd was screaming rhythmically, everybody knew there was an encore still pending. It was less than 5 minutes when Bruce came back and introduced the band members. Adrian Smith was ready with an acoustic guitar and I knew what song was coming up next. Bruce introduced Adrian in the end and whispered 7 in the end with microphone under his T-shirt. "7 deadly sins, 7 ways to win, 7 holy paths to hell..." began Moonchild. The Clairvoyant followed next without any pause.

I knew encore consisted only of 3 songs and the last one had to be a showstopper, a chef-d'œuvre which would end the great concert. Every maiden fan knows that it can't get any better than ending the show with Hallowed be thy Name. The intro piece of music itself was enough to get us high, add to that Bruce's paradigmatic "Screaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmm forrrr me Monterrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy" and our throats were ripped apart. Like all good things come to an end, so did this. Nicko threw his wrist bands and drum sticks to the audience and the band was off. Bruce didn't talk much in this concert, no English jokes, no curses to Sharon Osbourne. He just promised that Iron Maiden is gonna return to Mexico, which was a welcomed with a loud ovation. The show was over and the Gods had gone, we were blessed. Up the Irons!!!

Other concert reviews:
Show of the Beast - Iron Maiden in my hometown Bangalore
Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath in Monterrey

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