I have an hour or so to kill before I have to head out of the house for errands (and inevitably a beer somewhere!) In the meantime then I’ll start watching Iron Maiden’s Death on the Road concert DVD filmed in front of a rabid German audience in Dortmund’s Westenfallenhalle back in 2003. Nearly fourteen years ago I caught this tour in Manchester and Birmingham.
The DVD had been in the public domain since 2005 and I probably had it in my sweaty hands on or near it’s release date, but I’m pretty certain this is the first time it has seen the inside of my DVD player. It didn’t take me long into opening track Wildest Dreams to remember why I’m not to keen on watching Maiden videos on my TV screen. It seems to be a case of we’ve got a load of cameras at our disposal so we’re going to use as much footage from each camera as often as we can. There are so many cuts that you don’t seem to get the full effect of the show and at times the chopping and changing feels a bit nauseous.
The main reason for watching this today is due to the centenary of the start of the three month long Third Battle of Ypres or the Battle of Passchendaele. Somewhere in the region of a combined half a million lives were lost in the thirteen weeks it took the allied forces to gain five miles in the mud.
I’ve visited a couple of war grave sites in years past located in Malta and Crete and they are such eerie places to be. The Maltese one especially seems like a million miles removed from the dusty roadside where you entered the site minutes before. From a pretty busting high street not too far from the islands capital Valletta, to an almost silent and sacred graveyard.
I need to visit the National Arboretum just around the corner from the Bloodstock Festival site sometime, especially as it’s so close to home. I’d also like to pay my respects at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing and Tyne Cot cemetery, both in the Flanders region of Belgium.
I’ve probably said it before, but so much of the historical things that interest me now have mainly come from my interest in heavy music, whether it’s the war inspired lyrics or Egyptian mythology offered up by Iron Maiden or the darker side of humanity that Slayer are so pertinent with. Most of my share of the bookcase in the house is a reflection of influences garnered from my musical exploits.
I’d completely forgotten how reminiscent the start of Paschendale was on this tour to the more modern intro Metallica now use for One now that they seem to have veered away from the pyrotechnics. Since the tour to promote Dance of Death this song hasn’t been played much at all and the only two times I’ve seen it live we’re the two aforementioned dates in 2003. I know it would make a welcome addition to any setlist in the future if the band ever went through the motions of a best of tour.
Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
By Wilfred Owen