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Monday, 21 July 2008

All quiet on the metal front

Download came and went, Iron Maiden at Twickenham seems like a distant memory. Still, the tickets for DragonForce and Turisas, and Black Stone Cherry have arrived so there's something to look forward too. Not until the "...ber" months though, so I'm having to rely on Dr. MP4 to help me through the long lonely working days. However, my focal point now is August 25th, when Slipknot release studio album number 4 in the shape of All Hope Is Gone.

Totally stuck on Rise Against now though. The Sufferer and The Witness has to be the most consistent album I've listened to in the last year, no exception. The combination of screamo and melodic vocals to a hardcore/SoCal punk riff selection is awesome. If you've not checked Rise Against out yet, do so now. Or I will come round your house and shit on your couch.

Reading 2008 continues to have a terrible line up, which is great. Without the mighty 'Knot, it'd be nothing as far as I'm concerned. I mean, you've got your Bullets, Metallica and A7X but to be honest, seen two of them this year and Metallica are always on tour for the devoted fans anyway. I do love the little tents that, a decade ago, used to play host to the likes of Lagwagon, Dance Hall Crashers, Mad Caddies, MxPx, etc etc etc. This year they've got H2O and Pennywise - a strong performance. But over the three days, there's probably 10 bands to see which, by my reckoning, is about as worthwhile as me writing this blog and expecting people to read it.....

Still, I've learnt the main chords for Europe's Rock The Night. That officially makes me a fucking hero of our time.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Maiden Heaven

I would like to congratulate Iron Maiden for causing me more pain and suffering than any other band in my gigging history.
The day started well with a beer on Shithouse's balcony, and when our lift was starting to run a bit too late, we headed down to the train station. As we walked up to the ticket counter, the dude behind the counter looked at our band regalia and metal pin badges and simply said "Twickenham?". So on to the train we jumped, Stella in hand. With me in my Machine Fucking Head t-shirt and Shithouse in his signed Maiden denim vest (legend), we looked a treat.
Got me Maiden tour t-shirt outside Twicknham, met the other boys and in we went. Beers were chugged, horns were thrown, "MAIDEN!" was chanted.
Up first, Lauren Harris, Steve Harris's daughter. His wife must be hot as there is no was she gets her looks from him. She wouldn't have been on the tour without dad being in the band - pretty girl, pretty pants music.

And so cometh Within Temptation. I cannot get enough of these guys and as with Download, Sharon Den Adel owned Twickenham with her awesome vocals. It started to fill up a bit when these guys were on, and continued to do so as the much over-hyped Avenged Sevenfold took the stage. Bottles started flying - not into the band, but in the crowd. It was truly a spectacle, until one poor sod got a full pint of piss in the chops...
I'm not suggesting A7X aren't a good band but that's it. They're good. The guitarists are exceptional, the drummer is fantastic and to be honest, M Shadows is a versatile vocalist but for some reason, they aren't anything more than, well, good. I nodded my head to The Beast and The Harlot, I taped my feet to Bat Country, I applauded politely as they left the stage with a somewhat sheepish expression on their faces when someone went down in the pit and the medics were called. They were, um, okay.

As we were right down the front, there was no way I was moving, despite my bladder being as resilient as that of a 17-year-old Labrador's. So, empty pint glass in hand, I unleashed a couple of "pit pisses", which were then poured onto the hallowed rugby turf. No chucking it from me; that's unpleasant.

Maiden came on to the traditional Churchill's Speech, and me and Shithouse were within touching distance of Bruce's spit. 2 Minutes To Midnight and Run To The Hills saw the pit going insane - I lost my hat and got one of my surface piercings ripped out - but a highlight for me has to have been Fear Of The Dark. I turned round and saw 55,000 metallers going "woo-oh-oh oh-oh-oh, woo-oh-oh oh-oh-oh" - it was a truly emotional time. One teenage lad started having some kind of panic attack as he couldn't breathe - not entirely sure what he expected in the centre of the pit at a heavy metal gig attended by 55,000, but what do I know about yoof nowadays??

2 hours later, we stumbled out exhausted, bruised, bleeding and inexplicably topless. £10-worth of cheeseburgers later, we hit the road.

Maiden completely blew my mind. I've always liked the band, they have some amazing tunes but I am a complete convert. Never in my experience has a band had such a draw and such an impact on so many people of so many ages. 90% of people were in their Maiden colours, everyone knew the words and the pit was a thing of beauty. It was hardcore, aggressive, mayhem, and full of love. The whole day was a celebration of all things metal, from Within Temptation's Gothic operatics to the emo-screamo wailings of the Avenged Sevenfold heartthrobs. Iron Maiden put together a perfect lineup to cater to a whole stadium of music fans and for that, they should be exalted and applauded.

Iron Maiden, we salute you.