After nearly three decades of gig going I often wonder why I put myself through the wringer so much, time after time to attend a show. Maybe at my age I need to be more selective in who I see and where? But having said that it’s how I’d imagine being addicted to a drug is. If I don’t get to a show for a prolonged period of time I get grumpier than usual. As long as I’m enjoying it I’m sure I’ll persist with it.

Also after the recent debacles in January, and having to miss shows, it kind of leaves me jaded with the whole thing too. I enjoy the smaller shows more than festivals and arenas, but it seems to be the smaller show that (obviously) suffer more from scheduling problems and technical difficulties. You’re not going to get hundreds into somewhere like The Retro Bar or Peer Hat in Manchester and venues similar to them and they hold less than a hundred or so anyway. Some people have to travel to a different city to see a gig so the more people you can entice to your event the better.

In this day and age of modern technology set times and curfews posted up on social media are a god send as I can arrange travel accordingly. Depending on times I can pick from three different train stations or even drive if need be. When you make arrangements like I did the other week for a show based on a particular band and time which dictated my travel options, a casual “oh well we had to push the times back an hour” aren’t welcome to non locals. I know things can’t be helped, but surely there is a duty to have problems ironed out in plenty of time to let those paying in arrange whatever travel arrangements they need. At least with that one I had the option to save some of my money and head home without incurring extra costs. There have been a few shows where I’ve missed bands as the promoter (I’m assuming) listed bands in the wrong order. Having gone for a particular band only to find out yet again they’re on after a last train has departed.

Having said all that a gig like what I experienced in London last nigh restores most of my faith. Again I was on a tight schedule to get the last train back north, so when people were still not being let into the Underworld just before 7:30pm I was expecting the thing to finish nearer 11pm than the advertised 10:40.

Things ran bang on time and all three bands started on their scheduled dot. The thing that restored some faith in my gig going was the superb and professional way the Swedish masked men went about pummelling the venue. The crowd was pretty sparse, no doubt none of the mainstream printed press have picked up on the band so the metal heads with the sheep herd mentality of only going to things that they are told is good didn’t make an appearance. There was less than 100 in there, but it was by and large an enthusiastic 100 who really wanted to be there to celebrate Dr Living Dead! finally making it on to our island.

I’m still a bit surprised by the turn out considering both opening bands had support slots with pretty decent headliners in the same city within the last fifteen months. Rezet were opening up for Anvil at the tail end of 2016 and Swiss band Comaniac supported Metal Church last summer.

The performances from all three bands were superb and all for under a dozen English pounds. It was well worth making the effort. Yesterday started at 4:30am with a 9 hour stint at work. A brief 90 minutes at home before I ventured out on a five hour round trip culminating in me getting home just before 1am this morning. That was actually earlier than anticipated as the train was 40 minutes early into Stoke. The Swede’s could have easily taken to the stage and played a shortened lacklustre set, but already after four shows this year that is a contender for gig of the year.

Moving on to today, Iron Maiden’s sophomore release Killers celebrates its 37th birthday. I won’t delve into that too much as I wrote about it exactly 365 days ago. It’s one of the albums I’ve I had in my possession for the longest and probably takes the bronze medal out of the entire Maiden back catalogue.

In a weird twist of fate Hi-On Maiden are playing just up the road at Eleven, and as I have no work tomorrow it’d be rude not to attend. A few people I know have said how good they are and I need to see them and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to catch them that hasn’t clashed with anything else.

Happy birthday to Killers and to celebrate here’s a live version of Wrathchild taken from their Live at the Rainbow VHS release. The cover above is from the double sided 7” with the non album track Twilight Zone on the A side.


Heavy Metal Month Listening Challenge 18/31

Day 18 – A song about vehicles / ships.

Iron Maiden – Empire of the Clouds

An airship answers the question, so why not the epic culmination of Maiden’s last album The Book of Souls? 

This 18 minute epic is one song that I’d really love to see live at some point. If they ever perform it I think it’ll be at something special rather than a run of the mill tour date. 


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


I first saw Iron Maiden 9,698 days ago as a wide eyed sixteen year old. They’d been my favourite band for a number of years, but it took a while until I finally got to see them. My parents wouldn’t let me see them during their Seventh Son tour in 1988 when they played Birmingham’s NEC Arena. 

1990 was the first chance I had to see the band on stage and I grabbed it firmly with both hands. In the intervening twenty six and a half years I will have seen them more than two dozen times with two different vocalists and in six different countries – not huge by some people’s standards, but I’ve seen well over a twelve hundred different bands. 

The October 16th gig was also the last time that they played in the Potteries. When a UK tour was a big deal for bands and they played the length and breadth of the country stopping at places I’d never heard of as a kid. I spent so much time looking in awe on their singles promoting the latest tour when you’d come across the Victoria Hall. How I’d loved to have seen the World Slavery Tour (September 27th 1984) or the Somewhere On Tour jaunt (October 22nd 1986) in that building. In all they played the venue eight times, I’m so glad I got to see them in there once. 

As the current tour is heavily promoting the Book of Souls release there is only limited space for their back catalogue, and Tailgunner unfortunately doesn’t make the cut. Nothing from the 1990 album is in the set list and nothing has been featured since Can I Play With Madness was included during their 2014 tour. None of the other album tracks have even had a look in since the early 90’s. 

I’ve gone for this track as I’d never seen the video before – I’m pretty sure it’s unofficial as it was never a single and there’s no live concert release for this tour. It’s also the very first song that this wide eyed Maiden fan ever experienced. 

Later this month I’m taking my youngest nephew to see Eddie and the boys in Liverpool – his first concert. He’ll be several years younger than I was, but I never had a cool uncle who’d take me to concerts at his age. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s still into live music in a quarter of a century. I have my doubts because he’s currently at that age where he has a seemingly short attention span. The amount of different hobbies and interests he’s had for a thirteen year old is phenomenal. 

Can I Play With Madness

Well heading out to Manchester to catch the brutal death metal double header of Vader and Immolation tonight failed miserably. 

At one point today I was ahead of myself thanks to a distinct lack of parents taking their prima donna kids to the school just around the corner from their house. Shortly after that it took me a good ninety minutes to make four deliveries. That was the point I knew I’d be confined to the house. 

I got home just before 4pm, the gig didn’t start for at least another three hours or so. All fine and dandy if you have gainful employment that starts at a decent time of day. When I’ve already been up for a dozen hours with less than two hours before I had to get a train I had no time for a power nap. Yes, I’m getting old and decrepit! 

I’ve been a bear with a sore head as it is this evening – as my significant other can attest too – with out the added burden of a couple of train trips and some death metal thrown in to the mix. I’d just get frustrated, over tired and wouldn’t enjoy myself. And a knock on effect would be carrying over my dark mood into another day. 

As a consolation prize I’m giving Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album a spin. Today (or probably yesterday by the time anyone reads this) marked the twenty ninth anniversary of one of the band’s finest hours. 

By the time this rolled out in 1988 I’d been listening to them for a little while and already gathered their back catalogue. Seventh Son was the first release that I actually purchased myself as close to its release date as I could. I’m not going to go all egotistical and say I was first in line at Lotus Records, obviously as a fourteen year old I was probably in school on that particular Monday morning. For some reason though I’m thinking it still could have been the Easter holidays. 

I have it secreted I my mind that I snagged my copy of the 12″ picture disc vinyl, with the wall banner, and I can recall opening it and playing it at my grandparents house and they lived a good ten miles away and we always had to travel their on bus. I don’t know why things like that are lodged in my brain, but I have a fair few memories of them both surrounded by some of my musical landmarks. Having to swap buses just over half way in the town where Lotus Records, Mike Lloyds Music and Our Price was on my way there could have been a factor too. 

Can I Play With Madness was the debut single from the album and reached number three in the UK charts. When this came out you knew it wouldn’t be long until the album was in your sweaty palms. The video to this was filmed on location at Tintern Abbey on the Welsh side of the River Wye. It also features Monty Python man Graham Chapman as the unlucky teacher in what was to be one of his last TV appearances (he passed away in 1989). 

I don’t think the band ever went on chart flagship programme Top of the Pops to promote it and I distinctly remember the video being show, mainly because they cut a fair chunk off the end of it. It’s always the small things!

The glorious Derek Riggs single artwork was also the design on my very first Iron Maiden shirt. I might have it tucked away somewhere, but now it is more holes in ratio to material. 

Roll on May for some live Maiden worship. 

The Number Of The Beast

March 12th is a somewhat bittersweet day in the annals of the Iron Maiden family. 

Back on this day 1956 Stephen Percy Harris was born. If things had been different Steve Harris may well have been a professional footballer for his beloved West Ham United. The rock and roll lifestyle was more alluring and he taught himself the bass guitar and joined Gypsy’s Kiss less than a year later. 

On Christmas Day 1975 the initial seeds for the unstoppable juggernaut of Iron Maiden were sown, and as they say, the rest is history. Forty plus years further on down the line he is still the main driving force behind the band. 

Four years ago though in 2013 Clive Burr passed away in his sleep due to complications from multiple sclerosis aged 56. He was the band’s fourth drummer, replacing Doug Sampson and featured on the band’s first three albums. 

He is considered to be a very smooth and ultimately influential drummer amongst the metal fraternity, but Burr eventually embraced the darker side of the rock and roll life style and many poor performances were allegedly put during the North American leg of the Beast on the Road tour in 1982. During the same tour his father passed away and he flew back to England to support his family. 

At the end of the tour he was unceremoniously dumped from the band and his stand in during his fortnight away, Nicko McBrain, has been there ever since. 

What seemed to be an acrimonious split was healed when his illness was diagnosed in the mid 90’s, and the band played several shows to support spiralling medical bills. I had chance to attend one of the shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in 2005, but for whatever reason I couldn’t make it and it’s a slight regret all this time later. 

Taken from the bands ground breaking album of the same name, The Number of the Beast gave them their debut number one album and the lead off single from the album – Run to the Hills – was the first single to crack the top ten singles chart in 1982.  

Heaven Can Wait


A quick post and a “happy birthday” to my favourite Iron Maiden album Somewhere in Time released 30 years ago today – 29th September 1986. 

It’s one of the first Maiden albums I heard and has stuck with me through thick and thin for nearly three decades. The artwork and general packaging is glorious – Derek Riggs’ finest hour? I spent many an hour drooling over the artwork searching for the references and in jokes. The songs are an added bonus. The accompanying tour is one I would dearly wanted to have been able to attend, but I was only 12 when it hit the Victoria Hall and I’d never heard of Iron Maiden in 1986! It’s such a travesty that after the gigantic World Slavery tour the band didn’t record a full show for a future live release. 

I gushed a bit about this album in the second or third post on this blog nearly a year ago – go and have a search for Stranger in a Strange Land. It’s not really irony, but almost, that this week has been quite an Iron Maiden themed seven days. 

Last week their first arena tour on home turf for six years was announced for 2017. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, but I already have tickets in the bag for four of their thirteen British and Irish dates thanks to being a member of their fan club, the second time fan club exclusivity has aided me in three days. Even before tickets have reached general sale a second London show has been added due to “phenomenal demand”. 

This live version of the Somewhere in Time album track Heaven Can Wait is taken from the Flight 666 DVD and recorded during their Somewhere Back In Time tour of 2008 and 2009.