So, the Sherlock Holmes-types amongst you may have already puzzled out that I'm kind of a music geek.
Ergo, I'm also a fan of live music. Having just experienced the second-best concert-going experience of my entire life at the ripe old age of forty a mere few days ago, I thought it time to explore my history with bands in the flesh.
Wow, I totally just made myself sound like Pam Des Barres there. Oh well, it's a fair cop...
It kinda sucks being a music nut growing up in a small town. You may have found something that you're passionate about, you may even encounter a couple of similarly-minded people to hang out with but the chance of your rock idols playing anywhere close to you live is pretty friggin' remote.
Especially if you live on an isolated spike of rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Remote, indeed.
My penchant for metal saw me hanging out in High School with some guys that were in a band. We were all identifiable as so-called "Bangers" by our distinctive uniform:
I have to confess that I spent most of the show making goo-goo eyes at the impossibly hot Sandy Horne. Mutter, mutter...stupid restraining order...
I was in lurve. Not just with a hot professional chick bassist but with the experience. I began to see concerts, like sporting events or live theater, as a set of particularly unique circumstances that will never happen again. The memories you generate from events like this become little amber-frozen moments that are precious and timeless.
Before I grow too maudlin, let me prove my point. As a fourteen year old squirt growing up in Stephenville, Newfoundland I would never in a million years thought I'd ever see Iron Maiden live in concert. But on January 13'th, 1991, a young metal-head's dream came true.
Before the show we went to drink over at friend's house. He'd moved off-campus to a place on Robie Street (affectionately dubbed "The Swamp") to swill a bit of moonshine before the show. After one blast of this high-octaine space-shuttle fuel I remember thinking to myself:
"Hey, dumbass! Stop drinking! You're about to fulfill the dream of a lifetime by seeing Maiden live and what?!...you're gonna get so drunk you won't even remember it? That's f#@$&^* stupid!"
No amount of coaxing, torment or peer pressure could needle me into another drink. To this day I never drink before concerts. Why pay a hundred bucks only to stand around swaying in place, mouth agape, not even noticing when someone hits you in the face with a frisbee?
Anthrax opened up for Iron Maiden and put on a phenomenal show. I wasn't a fan of theirs at the time because I'd gotten out of metal when it became "thrashy" but Anthrax was flawlessly tight, high-energy and didn't take themselves seriously. I'm still a fan of theirs because of that night. I thought my buddy Mike was going to have a conniption during their performance of "Indians".
I myself went totally bat-s$#^ nuts when Maiden finally took the stage. This was during the "No Prayer On The Road" tour and rumor had it that the show would be very stripped compared to, say, the "Powerslave" tour. When the stage was revealed I realized they weren't kidding. All we got was a curtain with the album art back-projected, a modest stage arrangement which still allowed frontman Bruce Dickenson to indulge his penchant for acrobatics and a cameo by mascot/inspiration to all career-minded zombies "Eddie" (The 'Ed).
I spent the entire show balanced precariously on the backs of two chairs so I could see everything on stage. During the infrequent song breaks Bruce Dickenson apologized for a head cold that was wreaking havoc with his usually operatic pipes and for a more sparse stage set than normal. At the time he claimed that a cargo ship which was carrying a ton of their gear as ballast had sunk a few days prior while en route to Halifax.
Over the years I'd come to think of this as total bulls#$! until I "Googled" this just minutes ago:
Regardless of the crazy circumstances (and the lack of Adrian Smith's presence) I have nothing but fond memories of the show. By the end of it I'd screamed my voice into oblivion while belting out such trachea-rending faves as "Wrathchild", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", and "The Number of the Beast".
Here's l'il sampling. TURN IT UP!