So what exactly were we feeling at this moment? I mean, I've been a Maiden fan for just two years - but there have been people who were Maiden fans before they could multiply :P
We've been hearing The Trooper, Fear Of The Dark and Hallowed Be The Name repeatedly by college bands and pro bands (The standouts for me will be the performance by Rage at Trivandrum, and Moksha at the JamCAT. Of course, I haven't seen too many concerts to comment!). We've heard the song tons over on our players... Closed our eyes and visualised the six Gods actually being there. We've even given our own attempts to impersonate Bruce and Co :D
And bands from Dream Theater to Cradle of Filth have covered Maiden - now, in a few minutes - we were going to see THEM! In the flesh! The crowd grew restless. People were showing, and one particular nutter next to me was intent on making life difficult for those in his vicinity.
A more imaginative fellow inflated a contraceptive and it was being tossed all around, something like the 'Pig' during Floydian concerts :P Apart from this, there were random Spiderman impersonations by technicians, which won them a good hand, and the odd Causacian walking across the stage getting greeted by rousing cheers! :D
And then something happened. It all went dark. Like someone had pulled the fuse. Two guys positioned themselves on stage and they were holding on to some black tarpaulin like thing. You could sense something was in the air.. And then.. And then...
TA TA TA DE TA TA TA TA TA TE TA TA TA....
"Different World!" exploded into the night - with that incredible intro - And before we could fathom that the guitarists and Nicko were there... Comes in Bruce Almighty pumping that operatic voice of his - It's always amazed me how a guy of well over 50 can still continue to jump up and down on stage AND maintain that voice of his!
Heads were bobbing in unision. What disappointed me was not too many people seemed to know the new songs - hell, it was the AMOLAD tour, and people knew that there would be a lot of songs from the new album!! Still, it was mosh heaven. Remember those teeny mosh pits where hardcore headbangers would be, in front of the stage, while the rest of the college just sits back and taps their feet? Well, select the mosh, multiply by 1000 :P
Two more songs from AMOLAD (These Colours Don't Run, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns), and the crowd was, well getting impatient! :O It was only to be expected - AMOLAD was a progressive album and darker then the other albums which had more commercial numbers (ther term commercial is used ONLY with respect to other IM albums!! :D) and these last two songs were among the more progressive of the tracks.
Of course, we needed to get back to the moer popular numbers and it came with Wrathchild - which Dickinson dedicated to Leon Ireland, the ex-singer of Moksha.
The yells only got louder for The Trooper - Dickinson with his customary Union Jack - this guy's damn stage energy could still embarass any lead-footed college band!!!! The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg and For The Greater Good Of God followed. And the latter is what I'd been waiting for all evening - a brilliant 9 minute epic... Incredible lyrics - a headbanger-cum-air guitarist's delight! \m/
Then came the classics: Number of the Beast, Fear of the Dark, Run to the Hills, Iron Maiden.
FOTD deserves special mention here. It was obviously the moment the crowd had been waiting for. From the moment the opening riff sang out into the night - the crowd of close to 30,000 yelled along - it was pure ecstacy!!! The lyrics were perfectly mouthed - albeit with less mellifluous voices as Bruce's. People sang along with the solos - and the interlude was one big Ohohooooooooooh... :D
NOTB, RTHH were performed with huge choruses from the crowd. I'm not a fan of the song 'Iron Maiden' - somehow it never struck a chord with me! That sounds interesting - I'm a huge fan of Iron Maiden, but I hate Iron Maiden!
After these epics, Bruce announced he was terribly sorry and the show had to end now. It was a poor attempt at the thespian arts, because we knew they'd be back - we did need to pursuade them a little but they came back, alright!!
Two Minutes to Midnight, the concert staple, had a few people seriously considering whether their medulla oblongatae would be separated from the rest of the vertebra during violent hed banging! This was followed by a track which I have not followed much myself, The Evil That Men Do. And then came the coupe the grace, the icing on the cake!
The greatest metal song of all time - cheekily cute intro, exploding into metal madness - that can make the most austere of sages retort to violent moshing! Hallowed Be Thy Name - what an amazing, amazing piece of metal paradise that was! I can't explain it in words... I almost felt tears flowing down my eyes!! The first Metal song I fell in love with - seen it performed by others - pictured me becoming a hotshot guitarist and doing it once... But... Wow... To see the people who create it - perform it... Mindblowing.
And well, it was sad to see it end. 14 songs - a couple of hours, but a lifetime of memories.
When me and Teddy left Chennai, a friend asked why we're paying 1500 to hear 'people play songs' :P
He just can't understand, dammit - this is more than just 'songs'... This is.. An experience! Surely, none of the 30000 who turned up at the Palace Grounds that day would need to travel half of India to hear whether the third para of FOTD starts with 'Watching horror films the night before...' or whether Smith really does play the C5 - A5 - B5 progression on Brave New World! We were there for the experience!!
And I swear, I finally realised what my father feels when he goes to Sabarimala... :D
Words cannot describe how we felt - heads bobbed in unision to McBrain's drumming - \m/ signs flew out in resonant frequency to Murray's licks and Smith's tricks... And when Eddie - 10 foot tall monster - ambled across stage, it was a bit too much for some of us to take :D
The 'robot' had a gun, and for a moment almost looked like he'd wanna shoot us (Hey, after all, Iron Maiden... Wants us, dead!) What this means for Indian rock is phenomenal. Like many people have said - we've seen HBTN, Trooper, FOTD performed time and again by college bands, and semi pros, and the Mokshas and Motherjanes. But hearing it from the people who WROTE it - it was phenomenal.
Iron Maiden is arguably the biggest name in metal music - and the fact that they played to an audience of over 30,000 screaming, raucous metalheads, and did it successfully - proves to the world that India is indeed the untapped destination for Metal and rock music. Bryan Adams has been playing to full stadii at Bangalore, and Waters has had a very successful show despite prohibitive ticket prices.
The stage is now set for the rest - Metallica, Scorpions, G3 (!). Of course - the question that would be lingering is how well extreme bands like Sepultra and Slayer would be attended. Iron Maiden and Metallica being the most popular of the 'heavy' bands can expect huge crowds. It remains to be seen whether the same crowd - okay, 30000 is too much to expect - will greet a Sepultra or a Pantera. But the signs are clear. India has woken up to rock. And the world is waking up to that fact.