Thursday, September 12, 2013

Iron Maiden/Megadeth - Sept. 10 2013, Austin, Texas

Iron Maiden/Megadeth  10 September 2013, Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, Texas

     I was extremely stoked about going to see two of my favorite bands, Iron Maiden and Megadeth at the newly opened Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.  For me, this show acted as a welcomed diversion from the annual somberness that has plagued this New Jersey-born and raised metalhead and many other east coasters since 9/11. 

     The drive up from San Antonio was very easy, which is unusual when traveling to Austin because of traffic. The Circuit of the Americas sports and entertainment complex is 1300 acres, situated away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin.  The amphitheater is located off the 85 miles per hour super toll road TX 130.  This made driving into and out of the venue parking lots incredibly easy, however getting into the actual venue itself was a bitch! 

     Ticketmaster has instituted a new procedure, at least new to me, where you need to show the credit card you purchased the tickets with and have all the members of your party present as you enter the venue, otherwise they’re shit out of luck.  I think this is to prevent scalping, but who knows?  The lines were enormous getting inside and didn’t move very quickly.  With this being a weeknight, getting to Austin from San Antonio after work and in time for the show was a time crunch in itself and adding the lines to get into the place was frustrating.  To give you an idea of how long it took to get inside, I heard, Prince of Darkness (Risk), Hangar 18 (Rust in Peace), Wake Up Dead (Peace Sells), In My Darkest Hour (So Far, So Good, So What) and Sweating Bullets (Countdown to Extinction) while waiting in line and getting up to my seat. 

     Kingmaker from Megadeth’s 2013 release Super Collider was next and the only tune they played off the new album, thankfully.  They went on to play Tornado of Souls (Rust in Peace), Symphony of Destruction (Countdown to Extinction), the title track off Peace Sells But Who’s Buying, and finished the night with Holy Wars…The Punishment Due (Rust in Peace). 

     My highlight of the Megadeth show was when frontman/founder Dave Mustaine addressed the crowd and said something like, “Some of you may have heard that I’m moving to Austin.  We’re still house hunting, but will be here soon.”  The crowd erupted!  Personally, I love it when Mustaine closes the shows by saying, “we hope you had a good time, cuz we sure did.  You’ve been great and we’ve been Megadeth.” 

     Overall the ten-song Megadeth show was great and exactly what I expected, no surprises and just plain metal!  I just wished they would’ve turned the backing vocals down a bit (they were too loud in the mix) and played longer.  GRADE:  B

“IRON MAIDEN? Excellent!”

     There aren’t many acts that can headline over one of the Big 4 in metal; Iron Maiden is definitely one of them.  Their worldwide following packs festivals and stadiums.  Their body of work is unparalleled and their show is remarkable to say the least.  Every album is epic and tells a story, which to me is reflected in Eddie’s (the band’s mascot) persona.  At least that’s what I see and what adds to making them so great!  We’re damn fortunate that they elected to play Austin as one of only seven shows on the Maiden England Tour 2013. 

     The concert was filled with all kinds of special effects and pyrotechnics, as always.  The theme of this tour was 1988’s album Seventh Son of the Seventh Son.  Eddie made his appearance on the numerous backdrops and physically appeared at the end of The Trooper in full regalia.  A Phantom of the Opera type figure appeared and played the pipe organ during the extended portion of Seventh Son of the Seventh Son and The Clairvoyant. 

     Bruce Dickinson’s (yes, THE Bruce Dickinson’s) voice was better than I’d ever heard it live or even on DVD.  He must have had some vocal coaching (I originally wrote “voice lessons” but how do you give lessons to one of the best?) to strengthen his pipes because he was hitting notes that I’d never heard him hit live; especially on “Run to the Hills”.  At 55 years old, Dickenson seemed ageless and still moves about the stage like a dude whose hair is on fire.  To put it in perspective, Axl Rose (51) and Rob Halford (62), who I’ve seen recently on their tours, are old men with dwindling vocal ability and can’t hold a candle to Mr. Dickenson’s energy and ability.  The other band members, primary songwriter Steve Harris, galloped along on his bass and looked right at home with his foot on the floor monitor mouthing the lyrics to all the tunes; Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers provided the phenomenal lead guitar assault and harmonies which are integral in Iron Maiden’s unique sound. The triple threat guitar attack brings so much to the table for Maiden.  Every song, although most likely written for dual guitar harmonies now has three part harmonies certainly to accommodate the three headed lead guitarists. 

The usual trickster and practical joker, Nicko McBrain sat behind the drum kit but didn’t pull any of his antics I had seen in the past.  He did have one stuffed animal adorning his kick drum, but all the performances were as great as ever! 

Iron Maiden’s set seemed to fly on quickly.  Dickenson’s rally cry “SCREAM FOR ME AUSTIN” was met with complete raucousness and fervor each time he called out.    I only have one question for Iron Maiden.  When is the rock opera coming out?

The set consisted of:  Moonchild, Can I Play With Madness, The Prisoner, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Afraid to Shoot Strangers, The Trooper, The Number of the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, Run to the Hills, Wasted Years, Seven Son of the Seventh Son, The Clairvoyant, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, Aces High, The Evil That Men Do, and Running Free.   

The only issue I saw was the seemingly slow tempo of Adrian Smith’s intro to Wasted Years, it was as if he was trying to slow the song down.  Bizaaro…then again, what else would you expect from a city whose slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.”