Iron Maiden / Rob Halford / Queensr˙che
Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, WA
September 19, 2000
Reviewed by Michael De Los Muertos
Pictures from the San Jose/Shoreline Amphitheater
Show and Commentary about both the Tacoma and San Jose shows by Ice Maiden
I’m not even really sure how to
start the review of this show, or even what to say about it. To set your mind at ease I’ll cut to the chase: Maiden
kicked ass, Halford rocked, and Queensr˙che was much better than
expected. So you won’t be
waiting through the review with baited breath to find that out.
However, there certainly were a lot of very depressing things about
Ice Maiden and I, along with
several of our friends – some Wacken veterans among them – traveled
quite some distance to see this show.
Tacoma is about a three-hour drive from Portland, and we
anticipated it would be rough going, particularly at the end as we joined
hordes of black-clad metalheads in beat-up cars streaming into the
jam-packed parking lot of the Tacoma Dome.
Well – not exactly. We
got there to find the parking lot mysteriously empty.
Oh, there were metalheads, all right; at least a few here and
there. As we walked up to the door, all of us commented, “This
is an Iron Maiden show? Where
is everybody?” If this was 1985, twenty minutes before an Iron Maiden
arena show thousands of metalheads would be rioting, the ticket booth
would be in flames, the parking lot would be awash in illegal liquor and
the National Guard would have to be called out to control the masses of
metalheads foaming at the mouth shouting “MAIIIDENNNN!” whilst
overturning automobiles. Fifteen
years on, the crowd is much smaller, and there’s barely even a ripple of
(Ice Maiden's Commentary:
OK, this was the first big difference between the San Jose and
Tacoma shows. I flew down to
San Jose to see the show there three days before the Tacoma show.
In San Jose, all was as expected.
There were long lines of cars waiting to get into the arena
parking. True old school
metalheads were everywhere. The parking lot was full of blaring stereos, mobile bars were
set up on the roofs of cars, the parking attendant was asking ever car if
the occupants had any weed—'cause he wanted some, not because he was
busting anyone. Generally,
there was pleasantness and excitement.
Everyone seemed psyched and relieved that the show was going to
happen—probably in large part because the last two Maiden shows in San
Jose were cancelled. Actually,
this was the first time I have ever seen so many cool, laid-back
metalheads all in one place on North American soil. The venue in San Jose
is an outdoor amphitheater, and there were assigned seats—and the place
was chock full. I was in the
10th row, smack center stage—in spitting distance from the bands.
Indeed, once inside we discovered
that half the Tacoma Dome had been cordoned off – the arena wasn’t
even half-full! We had little
time to lament that so few metalheads showed up, because HALFORD blasted
on stage in short order. One
good thing about the light crowd was that in the general admission area,
you could get up very close and it was like seeing Halford in a club.
This indefatigable god of metal started with “Resurrection,”
the title track off his new album which some say portends a Maiden-esque
future reunion with Judas Priest. If
that happens, Halford will be in tip-top shape.
His vocals were fantastic and his energy was very high.
He showed the mark of a seasoned metal performer in that he knew
how to play the crowd, and get their energy pumped up. Adding a few Judas Priest songs – such as “Breakin’ The
Law” – to his new-album solo stuff was a great choice, and the set
list didn’t disappoint. Indeed
about the only negative thing you can say about Halford was that his
backing band could use a little work.
His drummer is terrific, but the bassist was below what I’d
expect for a musician playing with Rob Halford.
Nonetheless it didn’t detract much from the show, and Halford
turned in a top-notch performance. (Ice Maiden's Commentary:
I was most impressed by Halford's drummer—the guy was a god!
Amazingly fast and technically proficient.
Plus he was doing cool stick tricks—I'm a sucker for that stuff.
I thought it was interesting that in San Jose Halford gave a
shout-out to "all of my good friends in the Castro."
The Castro is San
Fran's notorious gay bar district. I
noted with approval that this very male-dominated, old school appearing
crowd did not boo or do any other lame thing in response to Halford's
comment. Bravo, metalheads!)
About the time I wandered away
from the beer garden to see QUEENSRźCHE was when I started to notice that
it was not just the quantity, but the quality
of the crowd which was a problem. At
the standard Queensr˙che set opening of “Anarchy X” and “Revolution
Calling” I found myself behind several burly drunk guys who didn’t
look much like metalheads, but who were passing around a large bottle of
Jim Beam and draping themselves drunkenly on each other.
I chose to forget it and concentrate on the music, which was
surprising. I’d seen
Queensr˙che before in 1995 on the God-awful Promised
Land tour – those were the days when Geoff Tate wore a tuxedo and
white gloves onstage, and a morsel of music from Operation:
Mindcrime was handed out only begrudgingly.
This time around Queensr˙che, as a support act, realized they were
sandwiched between two of the biggest-ever names in METAL, and decided to
behave accordingly. Their set
was much heavier and much catchier than I expected and focused,
surprisingly, on old stuff, several tracks from their first two albums and
very little from Empire or the
sorry post-Empire days. Score this in the plus category.
In the minus category, there was still
precious little from Mindcrime,
and I have to agree with Ice Maiden that, although the quality of his
voice is terrific, Geoff Tate just doesn’t have the vocal power to
really compete with the big boys (Halford, Dickinson, et. al).
Furthermore, the absence of Chris DeGarmo was keenly felt,
especially on the climactic number, “Eyes Of A Stranger.”
The new guitarist is neither as technical nor as creative.
However, on the whole Queensr˙che’s performance was much better
than I expected, my hopes for this band having been depressed both by the
terrible 1995 show I’d seen, and their long (and still unbroken) string
of worthless albums after Empire.
Geoff and the boys pleasantly surprised me and I have to say I will
probably give Queensr˙che another chance.
(Ice Maiden's Commentary:
QR definitely put on a better show in Tacoma than they did in San
Jose. I can't explain why,
but Tate seemed a little less focused on metal god posing and a little
more focused on his singing—just enough to make a difference.
Still, while QR did an admirable job, sandwiched between Halford
and Maiden the QR set just seemed like a good time to get things like beer
and bathroom breaks out of the way.)
Also I’ll give them a chance out
of pity and shame, particularly for Queensr˙che’s drummer. One of the guys standing near me with the Jim Beam bottle
nearly killed him – literally. After
the bottle was drained, one of these drunk assholes – who could give
trailer park trash a bad name – disposed of the empty bottle by chucking
it at the stage. It was a
magnificent throw, probably 100 feet or more, and cleared Scott
Rockenfield’s head by about 6 inches, impacting harmlessly on the
curtain behind the drums. The
trailer park assholes gave each other high-fives. It was so big and thrown
with so much force that IF THIS
BOTTLE HAD HIT SCOTT IN THE HEAD AS IT ALMOST DID, IT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE
KILLED HIM. The sick fuck who threw it just laughed, and moved on from
liquor to pot.
(Ice Maiden's Commentary:
OK, this is where I rant. Again,
San Jose was entirely cool the whole time.
People were drinking or not, smoking or not, generally just having
a good time. All during the show people were singing and standing and
being respectful of each other and the bands.
I had sweet-talked my camera through two security points, by kinda
promising I wouldn't take any pics—doh—did they really believe me?--
but when I was snapping pics during Halford a guard saw me and threatened
to take my camera unless I stopped. So
I did—until Maiden, when I couldn't control myself.
So my entire row was on the lookout for me, watching for the guards
and poking me when one was coming towards us.
True metal camaraderie at its best.
In Tacoma, I was next to the
front barrier because I wanted to be close again for Maiden.
I saw two people comatose from some substance get hauled out by
security before the show even started.
I saw two more people puke in the middle of the crowd.
I understand people wanting to enjoy substances, but what's the
point if you are too zonked to even enjoy the show????
But my main problem is that everyone started doing the push/mosh
war thing before Maiden came out. Then
they started full-blown fights. The
guy behind me started groping me, so I squeezed to get out and got caught
in a fight. If it wasn't for
one noble metalhead and his large friend, I would have been smooshed.
I elbowed one guy and my two saviors literally picked some folks
off of me and escorted me out. I'm
all for moshes in the appropriate places, and being in close quarters for
shows, but these folks were animals before, during and after IRON FRICKIN'
MAIDEN. WATCH THE SHOW, YOU
The boorish crowd wasn’t nearly
as energized as it should have been when IRON MAIDEN finally made their
entrance. The emphasis was
clearly on the new album, as the first song was “Brave New World,” and
it was actually comforting. Here
was not Iron Maiden reunited with Bruce trying to retread past glories
like Kiss Reunion Tour #347 – here was Maiden making a living, promoting
a fresh album, moving ahead, and adding yet another chapter to their
magnificent saga. Bruce’s vocals soared, the triple guitars attacked
mercilessly, and the feeling of metal was very pure and powerful. From new stuff to old stuff, Maiden never lost the momentum.
In addition to several Brave New World songs, their delivery of classics like “Two
Minutes To Midnight,” “The Trooper” and “Fear Of The Dark” was
Unfortunately the crowd almost
ruined it. Midway through
“Ghost of the Navigator,” the second song, Bruce got very pissed off
at a guy in the front of the stage. I
don’t know what he was doing, but Bruce railed at him, called him a
Nazi, said he had no place at the show, and started the whole crowd
cheering when security finally pitched him out on his ass.
Bruce then warned the crowd, “Don’t piss me off tonight!”
Kudos, Bruce! The
amount of mayhem and pointless banging around up toward the front of the
stage was staggering and depressing.
I wondered what happened to all the true, respectful, even-tempered
metal folk who used to show up for Maiden shows.
Were they all at home listening to their Dream Theater albums, or
what? (Ice Maiden's
those of you who saw Bruce's rants in other places, what happened in
Tacoma was nothing like that. In
San Jose, Bruce had a couple of cute rants, clearly semi-staged to get the
crowd pumped and riled. In
Tacoma, some dork threw a bottle at Bruce that barely missed his head, and
he stopped singing during all of "Ghost of the Navigator" so he
could get the dork thrown out. He
also seemed pissed for real, not just for effect.
In San Jose I was hoarse from singing along with the crowd.
In Tacoma, I was just trying to stop getting groped, mauled, or trampled. Go
figure which show was more enjoyable.
Unlike San Jose, loads of
people in Tacoma didn't seem to know any of the words to the songs, and
seemed either bored or pissed that more of the old stuff wasn't played.
Not to belabor a point, but the Ed Hunter Tour last year was the
big reunion tour—why should they repeat the same set list again?
I, for one, thought it was cool to hear the Brave New World stuff
with a hefty smattering of the classics.)
Maiden’s finale was suitably
bombastic, with a 20-foot-tall Iron Maiden – which looked suspiciously
like Eddie the Head – gracing the stage for the song “Iron Maiden,”
and locked inside said prop were several scantily-clad babes.
The encore, featuring “Number Of The Beast,”
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” and "Sanctuary," capped off
the show, if not with an earthquake, then at least with a minor tremor.
Another triumphant performance for Maiden, and well worth the
hassle. (Ice Maiden's
this was the last stop on the tour, Bruce let the Vestal Virgins out of
the Iron Maiden for a bow and short breast exposure. How nice for you lads in Tacoma!)
While the show itself was a
success, I must say it bodes ill for what metal scene I thought there
might be in the Northwest. What
kind of world do we live in where Iron Maiden and Rob Halford can’t fill
half the Tacoma Dome, and the dregs they do get are a bunch of
drunken assholes who throw bottles and beat up innocent bystanders?
Maiden sold out Madison Square Garden in mere hours, and I’ll bet
most of the people who came out for that show were true metal.
What’s wrong with Tacoma?
Depressing. Most depressing. I
can’t think about it any longer. I
gotta go lie down. Just be
sure to wake me when those Eddie the Head dolls they’re making arrive.
(Ice Maiden's Commentary:
As I reread this review I feel that it ends on a sour note that no
Maiden show deserves. I think
Los Muertos and I both agree that regardless of crowd and surrounding
events, Iron Maiden puts on one incredible show.
You can't help but feeling as you watch them that they deserve all
the acclaim they get. Bruce
was running like a mad-man and singing like a master, Nicko was drumming
for all he was worth, Adrian was unobtrusively ruling his guitar, 'arry
was a joy to behold on his bass, Gers was posing like the crazy monkey-boy
that he is, and Dave had his silly smile and was doing his little
lilting/skipping/walk/stroll thing as he strummed hither and yon around
the stage. These folks—OK,
maybe with the exception of Gers--are the old guard of pure metal, and a
joy every time.)
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