Flight Of Icarus

As a pretty barren, but sizzling June ends (only three shows attended) July sees my first trip of the year to the Netherlands to catch Iron Maiden on their Legacy of the Beast tour before it hits UK shores in August. My last outing to the Lowlands was for the Eindhoven Metal Meeting last December, this time its for something visually much more spectacular.

Sunday will bring up my quarter of a century of Maiden shows since I first saw them in 1990 and it will be in a seventh different country. I’m quite intrigued to check out the city of Arnhem, apparently there is some bridge there that was quite famous for something, so I keep getting told. Three of the bands last five Dutch dates have been at the home of Vitesse Arnhem rather than the more populous cities of Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

I quite like seeing shows in football stadiums as, being a Stoke fan, somewhere like the GelreDome is somewhere I wouldn’t visit as an away supporter. Reading about the stadium and all it’s mod cons I’m intrigued to see if the climate control system will be in operation as the temperatures could be hitting a peak of 25°, which is five degrees or so cooler than what we’ve had at home in the last week! My car thermometer showed 30° on Wednesday afternoon!

With this modern age of technology where spoilers are the norm, and Iron Maiden are a band that don’t deviate from their set list, most fans knew what to expect at their particular show since the Tallin debut back in May. There are the usual suspects of course and several curve balls. Some of the other sougs I’ve seen in the past, but some I haven’t had the pleasure to hear live for three or four years, The Wicker Man has been omitted out of the set for seven years. For the Greater Good of God has had an eleven year absence and it’s been 15 year and 17 years respectively since I last saw The Clamsman and Sign of the Cross live.

From an amalgamation of 25 shows over 28 years there is still one song in the set that I have never seen live, which actually surprised me when I realised that fact. Flight of Icarus hadn’t been included on a piece of A4 and taped to the stage since 1986, and then it was only a handful of appearances. The Somewhere on Tour jaunt is the Maiden tour that I would love to have seen live. The song itself hasn’t been performed on a British stage since 1984’s World Slavery Tour, so it’s definitely something special for most fans for a song that is 35 years old.

I can’t say I’m enamoured about a 4:45am alarm call so that I can make it to Liverpool for a 7:15 flight (fingers crossed EasyJet’s first plane out isn’t delayed), but I’m pretty sure the pay off sixteen hours later will be worth it for this ageing and failing body, and I might have seen some bridge before the main event.




Taking a delve back into my pre metal days here’s a track from the band that surprisingly (I think) I could pin point the beginning of my love (or obsession?) for record collecting, or buying in general. The only records I had prior to this were some inherited albums from relatives. One was an album of Star Wars music and the other was Doctor Who’s Genesis of the Daleks story on vinyl – which I recently had to repurchase! 

I most definitely didn’t buy Welcome to the Pleasuredome on its release date, or anywhere near, but I’m pretty sure the tape version of the album was the first original music release that I had in my possession. I can’t recall where I got it from, but I remember vividly having it during a Cubs trek in the mid 80’s when we encountered Peggy’s Bank and I was playing it on my personal stereo that I think was an Akai or Aiwa branded machine, rather than the more glamorous and famous Sony Walkman. 

Later on I purchased the album on vinyl around Christmas 1986 and for reason still unknown to me to this day I  promptly stuck a Miami Dolphins sticker on the front of it. In the years following I’ve got the album on compact disc and I’ve had this track on 7″ vinyl, a 12″ picture disc and a reissued CD. 

I don’t know if it’s me being naïve or just stupid, but 33 years after it was banned by the BBC I still don’t know why. Maybe the banning of it made it exciting and dangerous for a 12 year old to own? Possibly it was my friends, or the neighbourhood kids I hung around with at the time, we’re all that bit older. 

Compared to some songs that have reached the upper echelons of the UK charts there have been songs much more controversial and obscene. Thanks to that ban though it has made this track the seventh best seller in British chart history with sales in excess of two million singles. If they’d banned the song solely for pre watershed TV consumption with the infamous video below then I could have understood that. 

Originally the single was released in November 1983. After an appearance on prime time TV show Top of the Pops the track shot up the charts. A week later a Radio 1 DJ expressed his dislike for it prior to a daytime BBC ban. Two weeks later it finally hit the summit and remained there for five more weeks whilst banned. Controversy sells. 

(Anaesthesia) Pulling Teeth 


Today marks the 30th anniversary of Cliff Burton’s tragic death when Metallica’s tour bus overturned on the road close to Ljungby, Sweden, when they were on the way to catch a ferry towards Copenhagen. The force of the overturning bus ended up throwing him through a window and the coach eventually landed on him.   

They were touring the Master of Puppets album at the time and on the crest of hitting the big time with one of thrash metals most influential releases. 

It has always been stated that Cliff had the more diverse musical tastes within the group and it’s often acknowledged that it was he who introduced the others to bands like the Misfits. 

At such a tender age of 24 and with so much talent in those fingerless gloved hands, it would have been interesting to see what path the band would have ventured down in the intervening three decades. I still think we would have had Puppets follow up …And Justice For All, he received a posthumous credit on To Live Is To Die. Would we have had Enter Sandman – breaking the band to a global audience? What about St Anger, Reload and Load? By all accounts the symphonic elements of what became S&M would have probably surfaced at some point in time. 

Tonight the band are playing a show in New York City. Coincidence it happens to be on this date or just the way it’s fallen? The atmosphere around East 11th Street and within the intimate Webster Hall will be electric and one of those shows to go into ‘Tallica folklore. 

Originally found on the Kill ‘Em All debut release, this live version of (Anaesthesia) Pulling Teeth was recorded at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 1985 and can be found on the Cliff ‘Em All video – a compilation of early era Metallica live tracks with the emphasis on Cliff. 

Raise a glass to a fallen icon.

Rest in peace Cliff. 

Never forgotten. 

Nellie The Elephant

If I didn’t have such an eclectic taste in music and what border lines on an obsession of seeing bands play live, I could have spent all day Saturday loitering around the Warzone stage. It’s a self contained arena within the site. Food, drink, toilets, wood chipping and a great stage, with an awesome sound and fantastic bands in front of me. What else was required?

Following Strife were UK punk bands Discharge and the UK Subs all before Bad Religion brought proceeding to and end on that stage for me for the day. Immediately before Greg Graffin’s mob took to the stage I witnessed Sunderland’s madcap Toy Dolls for the very first time.

These guys were one of about 15 bands I’d never seen and highlighted as a must see. By the time I got to the stage after Sick Of It All had finished they’d already started, but I hadn’t missed much. There is no way you can watch this band and not crack a smile. Vocalist, and only constant band member since their formation in 1979, Michael Algar with his seemingly helium infused vocals and day glo sunglasses,  injected a sense of fun into the punk world. Even just reading some of their song titles brings out a wry smile.

Jammed in between bands with political views and songs about nuclear war, corrupt police and dodgy politicians – all serious stuff, who thought so many people would be into a trio playing a punked up version of Nellie The Elephant? I was expecting a sparse crowd there for them, but they are seemingly pretty popular on the continent. For whatever reason they appear to have played very few shows on home soil in the last 20 years, but recently a Manchester show was announced for 2017.

Regrettably I’ve listened to nowhere near enough stuff by these Mackem’s, so another wrong that need righting. My first experience with Toy Dolls was way back in 1985 or 1986 at a disco in the pensioners hall in the village that I grew up in. Nellie the Elephant was played and I was dragged into the circle by some much older kids and taught to pogo. After the Oooooooooooo part in the song has kicked in you just jump up and down on the spot with your arms by your side. Much like you’re on an invisible pogo stick, obviously.

Coincidentally, I’m watching this Sid Vicious documentary and he claimed to have invented the dance that is synonymous with the early punk shows.

Nellie The Elephant is taken from the groups 1983 album Dig That Groove Baby, and remains the bands most successful chart success, reaching the dizzy heights of number 4 in 1984.

I Am (I’m Me)

Hello. It feels like it’s been a while!!

I spent Monday evening in the rather sweaty, but superb company of Bio-Cancer, Origin and Immolation. A cracking gig.

Tuesday evening we ended up tracking down a pin badge in celebration of Iron Maiden’s Trooper ale which celebrated its third anniversary on Monday. Yes, I tracked down a pub selling beer that was giving away a badge! A bit sad for some, but the marketing machine behind the Iron Maiden brand is a very successful beast and I wouldn’t be the only one.


On Sunday evening I was at a bit of a loose end and on recommendations coming out of the Bloodstock Facebook page I ended up watching the documentary We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! on Netflix. And what a superb two hours and fifteen minutes viewing that was.

It documents the trials and tribulations of the band from a Tri State area bar band in the mid 70’s to their eventual break through in the early 80’s as one of the biggest metal bands for a brief period. The amount of hard work that was put in night after night, month after month with very little recognition from those in the know was very insightful.

Their early career was built up on a word of mouth reputation. When you can have 20,000 people turning up at a free out door festival you are playing at, or eventually headlining and selling out the Palladium Theatre in New York City. And it was all achieved without a record deal or label backing is a real rags to riches fairy tale.

2016 marks the bands farewell tour after the death of drummer A.J. Pero last year. Ex Dream Theatre drummer  Mike Portnoy is filling in for one last hurrah. I’ll be at their last ever UK show in August, but more on that in a few months.

This badly mimed performance was for a British TV appearance on the Top of the Pops show, when the BBC actually embraced and recognised all things popular! The miming wasn’t down to the band, but at the behest of the Beeb. Virtually every band had to mime to their own song. Iron Maiden three years before hand insisted on performing live when they did Running Free.

The song is taken from their second album You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll released in 1983, and (to date) remains their highest UK chart placement at number 18.


Balls To The Wall

Yesterday evening saw me make a late decision to cross the border into North Wales, or Buckley to be exact. As proclaimed on some of the shirts for sale, Saturday’s Udo Dirkschneider gig at the Tivoli was all about “the man, the voice”.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Accept, the band that introduced us to Mr Dirkschneider, or indeed his solo stuff under the UDO banner. Most people listening to metal since the mid 80’s will have undoubtedly heard Fast As A Shark or Balls To The Wall at the very least. Last nights show, and indeed this whole tour, has taken Udo’s fans back to his roots and we’ve been treated to almost two hours of Accept tracks, sounding like they should.

Over the years I’ve witnessed Accept several times with current vocalist Mark Tornillo who does an exceptional job, but I’ve never heard them like they sound on album, and I’ve never encountered UDO on a solo tour.

As you’d expect from Germans, they arrived on stage on the exact scheduled time and played through 20 plus songs spanning his releases with the band between 1979 and 1986. He is backed by a quartet of superbly efficient musicians and the time flies by. In places Udo’s vocals waiver a bit, but for a guy who recently turned 64 it’s expected and accepted.

I probably knew five or six of the songs before hand, but after watching the show I will almost be delving back into Accept’s back catalogue and the first available chance I get. There were some truly superb chunks of 80’s metal aired last night that have shamefully passed me by for the last 30 odd years.

Balls To The Wall is taken from the 1983 album of the sane name. This track is the bands signature tune, and the album remains their best seller in the States to date. With some of the albums song titles and cover art work they gained some notoreity in America as being “gay metal”. It was admitted that it was partially done for publicity, which worked well in the end, and as Europeans they weren’t as uptight as Americans.  This song is them showing their concern for human rights.