Saturday, June 21, 2008

Iron Maiden with Lauren Harris [Twee--, no, Comc--, ah, fuck it; Great Woods, Mansfield, 6/20/2008]

So, forty days and forty nights before I'm due to see them again, hopefully from at least no further away, I caught Iron Maiden on the next-to-last North American stop of the current Somewhere Back In Time tour, and it was quite as awesome as might have been expected. Maybe I should have planned my caffeine supply a little better, and maybe I should have swung it so I didn't have to get up at 6 AM and spend a total of like 7 hours driving on the day of the show; maybe I shouldn't have drank quite as many beers, or indeed maybe should have taken at least some consideration of the fact that I was still sick, but if you get yourself hung up on 'maybe's, you are never going to get anywhere in heavy metal, certainly not as a performer and not really as a serious fan either.

The day started, as mentioned, quite early, as I had to get some stuff together and then drive halfway across the state to pick up my youngest brother, who started at his grad-school radar lab a little earlier than we had anticipated when blithely setting up this concert excursion. Still, it wasn't so bad going out and back, and it beats the hell out of actually working on a Friday morning. After dropping off his laundry and hanging about with the family for a bit, we headed down.

Despite the fact that we hail from the North Shore and the venue for this show is practically on Cape Cod, requiring that we do not only the Boston-beltway-at-rush-hour but also the Cape-on-a-Friday drives (which those from the area will easily recognize as potentially suicide-inducing), the traffic wasn't that bad, and we got down in good time, enough to get some merch (and balk at the prices -- $125 for a Maiden football strip? Someone should tell them they're not a real team, let alone in the EPL and "entitled" to charge like that) before heading into the venue. Since we had seats rather than having to fight for places on the rail either on the lawn or in the pit, we took the chance to drink some beers and run through a bag of peanuts before going in to wait for the much-dreaded opener.

Lauren Harris [3/7]
I'd apologize to Steve for hanging a low rating on his daughter's band, but if the man still has any integrity left (or any hearing, incidentally), he'd probably agree with me. If you like retreaded '80s hair-rock, this might have been enjoyable, but even in the '80s, Maiden had the middle finger up to hair rock, and this should not have changed -- it certainly hadn't for most of the fans here. Lauren certainly looks good in leather pants, but she can't sing, and her band was composed entirely of over-the-hill bottom-feeders who were having occasional trouble making it up to the standard of 'competent'. The main blessing of this set was that it was short, but four songs from, say, Machine Men would have been much better than four songs from Lauren Harris.

There was a short break here where we hit the head, ate more peanuts, drank a bunch of hefeweizen, and saw a couple people we knew, and then repaired back to the seats to wait for the lights to go down....and then up on....

They came out to the strains of "Losfer Words", then stuck to the setlist as set back in India at
the start of the run, but as you can see from there, this is also 2 hours of pure AWESOME. It was amazing to see them do "Revelations" live, let alone "Ancient Mariner", where they held the entire crowd rapt for the entire 14+ minutes, and the requisite hits that didn't entirely mesh with the stated tour subject period were as amazing as expected. The production was top-notch as well, with well-used pyro, intricate scrims and staging, an animatronic devil for "The Number of the Beast", and two versions of Eddie walking or lunging around. This was, in short, basically everything you could hope for from an Iron Maiden classics set, delivered in an excellent fashion that was probably as good back on the back wall of the lawn as it was up in the pit, as it was where we were sitting. There were a few problems with feedback and dropouts on Bruce's mic, and Steve's bass was mixed a little strangely during "Aces High", but these were minor scratches on the surface of an impeccable show. The last time I saw them here -- in 2000 on the Brave New World Tour -- may have been better, but it may well be that the first time you see Iron Maiden is always the best, because nothing prepares you for that experience of spectacle and high musical execution when it first hits. Mark dug the hell out of it; not a bad first arena show, Iron Maiden doing a classics set like they've just knocked back a case of rejuvenation potions. There's nothing like a proper DIY gig, but there's also nothing like a really good arena show with really good music, and the fact that Kommerz basically hates anything with musical integrity just makes these all the rarer.

Somehow, we also got out and back up home without me falling asleep behind the wheel and crashing into something, and though I still feel sleep-deprived, I'm also still feeling the aftereffects of this show. Have fun at Possessed tomorrow if you're going; I've to more sleeping to do and will start thinking about the next gigs next week.

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