So, the saga starts with my quest for tickets. When I heard about this tour, I was mighty excited and made a couple of posts here and here.
I have seen Iron Maiden more times than any other band - eight times including last night (rivaled at a close second by Rush seven times). Sounds extreme, I know, but this is over the course of more than 20 years for both bands.
I first saw Maiden on the Powerslave tour in 1985, and when I heard that they were bringing the whole Powerslave stage set on the road and were doing mostly songs from the Powerslave album and the two or three before and after it, I was pretty psyched and vowed to see this tour.
Apparantly, so did a lot of other geezers. The venue has an interesting seating scheme. The very front of the amphitheater is a fairly compact general admission standing-only section. Then there are blocks of assigned seats, and then general admission lawn. When the tickets went on sale, my goal was to get in that front section so I could get close to the stage like the old days.
But I screwed up and forgot about the on sale date until tickets had been available for about ten hours. But by then all I could get were lawn tickets. Argh. I bought three - one for me and two for my colorfield pals Mike and Dave.
Here is where things get good. colorfield's other guitar player, Pat, knows Maiden's bassist Steve Harris from way back. Very long story short, they became friends before Maiden's skyrocket to the top of 80s metal, and the two still play tennis whenever possible when the band is local.
This also means that Pat could possibly help us get better tickets. But the band was flying in and out of the show with very little time for he and Steve to hang out so this whole thing was TBD. But at least we had our crappy lawn tickets and were therefore "in the building. "
The big day arrived and Dave, Mike and I did the three hour drive. Pat had gone up early to try and catch Steve, and we hooked up at the venue. Pat was able to get passes for he and our buddy Mady who came up with Pat, but for whatever reason that was all that was left at will call.
We remained optimistic, as Pat was going to see Steve and we were hopeful we'd at least get better seats if not meet Steve. When we went to see Maiden at Ozzfest three years ago, the band got there really early, Pat and Steve had a match, and we got to meet him.
On the very likely chances that it would not happen this time, I gave Pat some stuff for Steve to sign if possible. Namely the photo of Steve and I from Ozzfest. In the meantime, we watched the opener, Lauren Harris (Steve's daughter) from the lawn. She was not specifically too good. I will leave it at that.
Meantime, Mike saw some dudes walking around with an Iron Maiden banner that depicted all of the albums to Somewhere in Time, dated 1987. He came back with the astounding news that he recognized the banner and in fact co-created it 21 years ago. One of the dudes toting this giant banner around the venue was buddy of Mike's from high school and indeed it was the same banner!
I had a cool meeting as well. If you think we were hardcore, driving three hours each way for this show, consider Chris La Tray, author of the Stumbling the Walk blog. He and his son drove eight hours (crossing a time zone) to get to the show. When he called to see where I was at, we were about 20 minutes out. He said, "We just got here. It looks like a heavy metal parking lot."
Chris had a recent cool encounter as well, when Ace Frehley played in Missoula, Montana and he was able to interview him for an article and blog post, and also meet Ace after the show. Chris and I had emailed about this and realized we'd both be at this Maiden show. We met very briefly to say hey and take the below snap. Bloggers unite!
So as Lauren Harris' set mercifully wound down, we pretty much resigned ourselves to the lawn. But lo and behold, Pat rang me up on my cell and said Steve was able to hook him up with comp tickets! So we crusied down to the 100 section just in time for UFO Doctor Doctor to start over the P.A. (Maiden always takes the stage right after this song).
I'll get into the details of the show tomorrow, but one other cool tidbit. Steve had Pat and Mady come onstage for the sing-along part of Heaven Can Wait, which I was able to get a couple of good photos of. Nothing like getting dragged onstage in front of 13,000 people to shout "Woh oh oh. Wo oh oh oh oh oh oh. Woh oh oh. Woh oh oh oh oh" a bunch of times. Or so I'd imagine. You'd have to ask Pat!
All in all, it was more than a concert - it was a great gathering with some meetings, some reunions, a lot of excitement and a great time overall. Got home at 3 AM and need to catch up on sleep but wow, what a blast. Big time shout out/kudos to Pat for making the good seats happen, and for getting Steve to sign my Ozzfest photo.
Part Two reviews the show, with a number of photos and a link to a slide show of all the snaps.