Metal 2000 world tour: a review for Madrid and Murcia
Trying to describe a Maiden concert is not an easy task even if you get to see them twice in the same tour, just like I did in Spain in the dates for Madrid in Las Ventas bullring (19th-July-2000) and Murcia in the sports centre Los Alcazares (22nd-July-2000). And it is not easy because there is so much going on that you can't retain every face, every reaction, every single word or tone variation while struggling to stand in the middle of the uncontrollable crowd. Anyway, I'll try to recount the most interesting facts and throw some reflections for discussion.
I attended the two open air dates in Spain (Mijas was unfortunately cancelled due to obscure reasons). This fact is not as trivial as it could seem. From my experience, Maiden sounds better open air than in a closed pavilion. Madrid was an open air bullring with people in the arena and people in the terraces. Murcia was also open air, a lawn field holding people as far as the sight could reach and the audience was hotter, more vivid.
The Brave New World tour will not let down any fan with shows like the ones I have seen. The band is full of energy and providing excellent playing in new and old songs. I can sum up this whole review in a line: this tour is like a dream come true (yes, the dream is true). Do not miss it!!
The Irons made an excellent performance and my eyes were put on Janick in Madrid, constantly raising my thumb to encourage him. As you know, there was a terrible accident in Mannheim, which fortunately has ended right allowing the band to continue their extensive tour. Janick is taking it more calmly now, so no jumping, no air kicking, no guitar swinging but he does his thing very well, which is specially important as he plays most of the new solos, with 4 out of 9 from the 6 tracks they do from the new album, with a special mention to what I consider his best solo ever: the second one for Blood brothers. You could say he plays more faithfully to the record now that he moves less. Janick spent most of the time alone at the right with some visits paid by Steve, he seemed to be left alone to do his job which shows that he must be having a hard time because we all know how much he likes to move and joke in normal conditions. 'Chapeau' for Janick!!
In Murcia my attention was drawn to Bruce principally as I notice him... a bit absent in Madrid. It is not that he is not there but I got the feeling that he was too "planned" and although his performance was technically flawless, reaching the tones with sufficiency and commanding the audience when necessary, I think he was not enjoying himself very much, like if he was more like "doing a job". And I don't say this because he left the stage at some long instrumental parts which I think it is a very good idea (I don't like when he makes the crowd yell when you're trying to focus on that full speed solo or Steve's mighty fingers pounding the strings like mad). I say this because you could tell in his face, a bit serious. Besides, he spent no time at all joking with his mates like he used to do. Not even Janick. He retired sometimes to Nicko's position but the cymbal retiring joke and faces were absent. Well, this was my perception of the show, maybe I got it wrong and he was just concentrated in doing the excellent singing that he made or keeping some energy to drive his plane after the show. Nevertheless, I fully enjoyed his singing in Blaze's songs proving once again he is the most versatile singer in heavy metal.
What can I say about Davey, Steve and Nicko, the all-resisting core of Maiden? They rule and although I couldn't see Nicko at all during the show as he is "buried" by his huge drum kit, you could hear his ever precise work carrying the band forward. Dave was excellent, as always, smiling, making signs to the first rows, kneeling next to the people, joking with Adrian, Steve and Janick when he was around. Steve was moving like mad all around, bending towards the audience in the edge of the stage, encouraging people, singing along, doing the machine gun posture, jumping when the music needed it, completely absorbed in the intro to The clansman with his acoustic bass and enjoying what is mainly his music.
Adrian used to stay more to the back, not so near the edge of the stage, more in consonance with his "laid back" personality as the likes to describe himself, but when he did near us you could tell he was very happy. Excellent playing as usual in him. And now I get to another reflection the Madrid show provoked me. It seems that far from vanishing, Janick has taken progressively more and more importance in the Maiden machine and Adrian, far from being the star of the band, is what we could call "the 3rd guitarist" of the band. My reasons for this is that many of the things he used to do in the past, Janick does them now, like some solos or the intro for 2 minutes for example and Janick took most of the writing along with Steve and Bruce in the new record so Adrian is left more in a second plane... but I think it fits with his personality according to what I have read in biographies and interviews. Anyway, most second guitarist would like to be like this shy, magnificent guitar master. It's great to have him back.
One thing to notice is that with 5 guys moving across the stage now it is difficult to find an empty space on it, but even so it is clear that they pay special attention to cover the whole stage all the time and when anyone leaves his spot another member (usually Steve) would go there so everyone in the audience can see a bit of everyone anytime. Janick is most of the time in the right (from the audience point of view), Dave to the left and Adrian in the centre but a bit to the left with his all-time mate Davey, where they were doing faces and jokes thoughout the songs. Sometimes they all come to the centre of the stage, up front, making for a memorable picture.
The beginning of a Maiden concert is one of the most thrilling experiences you could ever hope to experience. Lights turn off, the backdrop for the new record is displayed and a shuddering classical piece with an apocalyptic feel drives everybody crazy of expectation while effective lights of different colours violently move and change at the music pace. It continues to build up the tension, then you see a familiar face upon the drum kit saluting with his sticks, he's Nicko! Short after, you distinguish a familiar riff, Adrian steps in, a big explosion of light and sound... and the band has taken the stage by storm delivering The wicker man to the now fully captivated audience. That moment for itself is one of the highlights of the show and the good news is that it has just begun with two hours yet to go to appreciate the greatest metal on Earth.
Ghost of the navigator follows, with a superb intro in crescendo. Steve draws bass chords to the moody guitar playing while Bruce speaks to us saying good evening and introducing this song of the new record reminding me of The evil that men do for the Seventh son tour as seen in the Maiden England video. The rest of the show continues very much in the line of the Virtual XI tour with basically a first half of recent songs and a second half of old songs with some exceptions to keep the audience warm with some old rocking classics like Wrathchild, The trooper and 2 minutes to midnight. In fact so warm that my glasses were misting constantly in Murcia where it was really hot. I ended up completely sweat soaked, so wet that the ticket inside my wallet from inside the pocket of my shorts got humid.
The stage set and lights follow the general rules of the previous tours but adapted to the new artwork. Their costumes also change, promoting the new t-shirts and Bruce wears these trousers even more strange than those used in the Ed Hunter tour. The lights effects are kept for the classic songs, with the purple lights over the audience in Fear of the dark, the white lights opening at the 2 minutes chorus, the red light with pyro explosions for The number of the beast, which again opens the encores and so on. Backdrops create the mood for those songs with well-known graphics to them, like The trooper (a greenish Eddie with a cannon by his side), The number of the beast, The clansman and the Brave new world cover with sparkling Eddie eyes during the new songs.
The walking Eddie appears in The evil that men do just like in the Virtual XI world tour, doing basically the same walking and taunting but in a wicker incarnation. I heard comments after the Murcia show about some people disliking this new Eddie. I can not agree, I thought it was cool. A side note would be that the solo (double solo as Janick and Adrian do it together) for this song is turning an anecdote as no one is paying attention to it because it is when Eddie enters, very much like the second solo in Heaven can wait when the fans were retreating from the stage after the chanting.
When the music reaches to a stop, the lights go down and you listen "scream for me, Murcia" three times in a row, each time with a higher pitch, you know what comes next: spotlight on Dave and the immortal opening riff for Iron Maiden fulfill your senses. Then enters Janick, lights go on again and it's full speed ahead and you know Eddie is about to appear. Well, this time you got it there already. Behind the drums, a giant wicker figure stands out over a backdrop with clouds and smoke and a new dimension of theatrical effect is reached when the wicker figure opens its stomach and you see Bruce surrounded by some white dressed women with green leaves in their hair, like prepared to be sacrificed inside the wicker figure. After the drum-bass solo you know that something is going to happen... this time, the head of the figure opens revealing a turning Eddie head (like the girl in The exorcist) with red shining eyes very much in the line of the head for The Ed Hunter Eddie incarnation and flames go up faking the burning of this wicker Eddie.
The setlist was: Intro, The wicker man, Ghost of the navigator, Brave New World, Wrathchild, 2 minutes to midnight, Blood brothers, Sign of the cross, The mercenary, The trooper, Dream of mirrors, The clansman, The evil that men do, Fear of the dark, Iron Maiden. Encores: The number of the beast, Hallowed be thy name, Sanctuary.
Unavoidably, there's a sad note to every Maiden setlist. It won't ever feature every single song you'd wish to hear. For example, I sorely missed The nomad and The fallen Angel. Afraid to shoot strangers and Futureal would have been nice too. And I could have done very well without The mercenary, Wrathchild or The number of the beast. But this is particular for every fan and sure you are thinking about other titles I didn't mention.
For me, the most interesting part of the show were the new songs. I have seen them live before and the old songs they play tend to be the same over and over, so even if 2 minutes to midnight is a good song I still prefer to listen to how they perform the new stuff, no matter how many production tricks you make in the record, every song gains when played live and the new songs were no exception. Bruce even left the audience sing some choruses which is not usual with new material.
Maybe the most surprising (and aptly recovered) song was Sign of the cross. I recall Bruce commented in interviews his will to get this song back in the set. And they have, with a new theatrical effect which depicts Bruce rising crucified in a wooden cross with wings in the intro. This song is one of the most powerful songs you could ever listen to in a live show, I hope it would turn an obligatory classic like Fear of the dark or Hallowed.
As you see the last half an hour of the show is very close to the Ed Hunter world tour. The only exception is the closing song, Sanctuary. The band made a shorter than usual rendition, not stopping for crowd participation but with a small pause in the middle for Bruce to tell the audience "thank you from all of us to all of you for supporting metal, for supporting Maiden, you are the brave new world". He even did some climbing in Murcia in this song and almost torn the giant cloud Eddie painting to the left side of the stage that accompanies the supporting bands, reminding inevitably to his mighty escalating in the Ed Hunter tour.
After the show is time to rush to the shop and get hold of some of the coolest t-shirts in a lot of tours and the tour programme, bigger and with better photos than the previous VXI programme. Also this time you can get the Run to the hills official biography there and I recommend it to you if you are into the band and never have enough of their stories.
In Madrid there was a special event t-shirt with the single date "19th July Madrid" over the drawing of a strange audience (I think they were aliens) in the back and in the front a drawing with Eddie on the stage with the public behind him (similar to the image in the ticket for the show in terms of composition). In the back there was this message "that's me mum" with an arrow pointing a person in the audience, he, he. Apart from being "exclusive" I didn't think much of it, and bought the "all-over" Eddie t-shirt.
Review: Adrian Tineo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fotos Murcia: Adrian Tineo
Fotos Madrid: Rafa Agudo