Friday, April 27, 2007

THE GODS WERE THERE! : PART 2

Okay... So after the LH debacle, things could only get better.

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.

From a personal point of view - it didn't get bigger than this. Okay, I'm not a hardcore Maiden freak like some of the others - infact I started listening to them just a couple of years back. But that shouldn't take away from the fact that I consider these guys Gawds :D


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.

\m/\m/

Sunday, April 22, 2007

THE GODS WERE THERE! - PART 1

Okay, I know this is a little late. Over a month late, to be precise, when other blogs by die-hard fans would be teeming with appreciation.

I could sound intelligent and say that I wanted a month to reflect and give a proper critique of the same, without sounding too enamoured of the magic that happened that night, but my candor leads me to saying I was just damn, plain lazy! :D

Okay, so more than the concert, it's the whole trip that me and my friend Teddy (name changed to protect privacy!) will remember - and not all are for the right reasons :P

So a few days into March, what looks like another day helping the Indian software industry grow, we come across rumours. Maiden in India? Naaaah.. Can't be true! And rumours continue to fly - across Orkut communities, forwarded mails, more communities, and more mails.

And then it hits us. www.ironmaiden.com announce that India is going to be a destination :D
Metalheads rejoice! The gawds were coming to Indyeah! \m/\m/

And so began the planning - Me and Teddy booked our tickets for the show, which were surprisingly cheap (DNA, you guys rock!) - and then off we went to Bangalore.

Everything was ominous - We missed our stop, and the auto driver at the next stop seemed pretty amused that we'd saunter all the way to the next bus stop only to get back in an auto :|
The auto driver must have realised we were from Chennai and assumed that we must have taken Chennai-esque auto fares for granted. But we, groggy as we were, argued and effected a discount of some 50 bucks from the originally quoted price. Reached my friend's place (dude - a big shout out to you!) and crashed.

Woke up later, had a bath donned our new Iron Maiden tees and went off to the Palace grounds. And tell you what was incredible - everybody seemed to be going there! Bangalore was alive alright... But now it seemed that there were more lives than ever!

And as we teemed into the Grounds... We knew something was going to happen - something huge. The screen - the wide spaces... This was gonna be bigger than any concert I ever attended in Chennai! The inevitable Great Indian Delay made sure things took off later than expected - but everyone was so used to this time system deferral that the grounds were filled only a good two hours late - even though some industrious ones had parked into the grounds the day before itself. Poor suckers might as well have come on the day of the show at noon - and they would have got a front row ;D

Okay, so the crowd was here, the atmosphere was building - bring it on!!!!

FTN - AND WERE THEY F-ed!!!

The first band, F*** The Name, were the GIR winners and got a chance to open. What an opportunity for these kids - you think that they'd make the most of it. Unfortunately for them and us, they made a total mess of it despite being greeted with generous applause. Slowly, but surely, a condescending attitude, and poor choice and order of songs saw them getting pelted with 1/3rds of their own name, suffixed with suitable pronouns. Yes, the sound was bad, but hell, these are GIR winners, not some local college band! Where's the soundcheck? Where's the 'Hey bas***d, increase the volume on the bass!' which came a good three songs later?!!! Come on, guys - this is not an excuse! You're semi pros now!!!

Finally, to pacify the crowd, they did a cover of KORN's 'F*** That'. Some elements of the crowd sang along, while others decided they had enough of F*** for one night!
A sad end to a seemingly talented band's great chance. F***ed up is what comes to mind.

PARIKRAMA - WOW!

Now THIS was a performance and a half! You notice the difference in professionalism that Parikarama and FTN displayed - these guys won the audience over with their humilty and humbleness ("We cannot believe we're opening for Maiden... We all grew up listening to them... Man we're performing on the same stage tonight..."). All this despite being one of the biggest names in India. Swayed the crowd. Compare this to FTN's attitude - and it's easy to see where the first faux pas was made!
Okay - as for the performance itself - mind blowing. Five originals, and the crowd sang along to 'But It Rained' and the anthemic choruses of some others - two new songs were introduced - and the lead singer really gelled with the crowd - encouraging them to yell along.

And which genius said violins cannot be used in rock? Take a look at their violinist, pick your jaw off the ground and keep mouth shut! :D

LAUREN HARRIS - WELL...

Steve Harris' daughter. Well, to be frank - she tried. But the criticisms were genuine. Pretty face, yes, but we wanted more than that. We metalheads are not like those people who let bubblegumpop singers with bleached hair become superstars. We want substance. And well, Lauren was a decent singer - but nothing extraordinary. It was obvious that nepotism, if I may use the word here, was the reason for her opening here over merit. And too monotonous it was for anyone's liking. The crowd for a while kept quiet in the understanding that Papa Harris might get offended but after non-stop, same-style crap over and over again, they just couldn't take it - and the same treatment meted out to FTN, albeit politer, was dished out to this dish.

Then came the incredibly long wait and then... Maiden :D

Next post! \m/

Friday, April 20, 2007

MY BAND... AND THE MEMORIES

You know... It's been near a year since I passed out of college.
And I bloody miss the place. Yes, I do. I mean... I miss the :

1. Doing crosswords at the back of the Mass Transfer classes ;)
2. Random adjustments... Er... Standardization of values in the laboratory.
3. Scooting classes - who me :D
4. Poor Jokes. Again - who me? :P

Etc etc.

But damn, what I miss most about college was undoubtedly the band...

We were never an amazing bunch of musicians... I mean, more than a band we were a bunch of friends who happened to know an instrument each. I mean, look at me - could hardly play guitar without making timing errors but they still bore with me and let me in :D

I remember how we formed... Well... We never had a fixed band structure per se anyway. After the previous band that we all looked upon disbanded for various reasons - some of us put our heads together.

During the intersem college fest, our semester put together a decent performance and won - but we found another vocal and guitar talent in the younger semester.

And then, on college day a few days later, 'our' band -
Me on guitar,
Steents on guitar
Speed on keys and seconds
Reppai on guitar
Freaku on backing
Robin on lead vocals.

We sang three poppy-country types that the crowd seemed to like. However, Snoopy, the diminutive singer and Raju, the babyfaced guitarist, had set the stage on fire themselves. Snoopy in particular - whose voice bowled over the oestrogenic part of college and he has remained every girl's secret fantasy ever since ;-)

But yes, we put our heads together and decided - we all were fraud Mallus (most!), enjoyed hanging out together, etc. And we had similar taste in music.

Well, almost. Raju was clearly entrenched in Metal roots while some of us were a litte more practical - doing Metal numbers with a pair of cheap acoustic guitars and no drum kit was something even the men from Maiden and Priest would have found slightly difficult.

Well, eventually I got myself an electric - so did Raju. His dedication to the guitar was legendary (I suspect it still is!). And then came, oh horror, horror, Bhoomika 2005.

We practiced hard. Real real hard. We even rented a drum kit and a senior, a Metal \m/aniac called Thermal ;) volunteered to pound for us. And then on stage things sounded good. But something was wrong. The crowd was booing. Only after our show... In total shock did we realise the son of unmarried parents at the mixer had messed things up so wonderfully - the net effect being only guitars were audible. Noone could hear anything we sang.

I was so angry I almost broke my guitar in two. It took some saner heads to calm me, and us, down.

Anyways... We had a long long break after that... Time to recuperate, time to think.

Thermal and Reppai passed out. Speed, me and Freaku had less time to devote as we started off our CAT preps. Snoopy and Raju started jamming with a drummer called Shivas - a school dude who used to be at the same music school that Raju went to.

Eventually, we knew we could always ask Shivas to perform with us in college - we finally had our drummer and a kit! :D
Our first chance at redemption after the Bhoomika debacle came at an intercollege fest our college hosted - the team turnout was very low, but we knew that shouldn't deter us from giving it our best. Raju surprised us first by saying he was going to drum for us :D
Well, it didn't strike us at first that since this was a competition, Shivas wouldn't be allowed to participate. So we went along... And practiced real hard - some of the best preps I've done were for this event... And some of the most memorable.

Take It Easy... Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Speed -> Drummer!)... Like a Stone... We did well on all these, and it was a tad disappointing to finish second when we thought we were good enough for first place.

And then... Came the one shot to redeem ourselves... After the debacle of 05, we knew this was the poetically justice-giving way of ending college performances on a high - Bhoomika 2006.

I'll never forget those 15 minutes - inarguably the best of my engineering college life! We weren't perfect or anything... But the response, the music, the everything... From Adat to Nothing Else Matters... We called ourselves 'Swap' that day because we were swapping instruments like crazy :-D

Being in a band rocks. It'll teach you all you need to know about negotiation, time management, crisis management and thinking on your feet. I love you guys :)