Iron Maiden / Lauren Harris / Parikrama
Carling Academy, Brixton, London
24th June 2007
Live review and NO pics by HannTu
Firstly I’d like to apologise for the lack of photos and complete setlists. Metal-Rules didn’t get a photo pass for this gig, and after a very heavy night out the night before, I didn’t feel up to enduring the crush up front. But here my shirking ends, and onwards with the show!
I went there about an hour and a half before the doors opened, so the line, as you can imagine, was about 300 metres long. This wasn’t a bad thing though, on the way, we saw Steve Harris arriving with his kid and presumably his wife. We were rewarded with a quick smile and wave before he was whisked inside to prep. 150 metres down the line, we saw Clive Burr, former Iron Maiden drummer arriving. He was in a wheelchair, as a result of his illness from multiple sclerosis. However he also rewarded us with a smile, and he got a round of applause as well. The line moved up pretty quickly, and the show started very promptly.
The first act Parikrama were given the honour firstly of opening for the mighty Iron Maiden, but they also had the honour of being the first Indian rock band to tour the UK. My interest in them was piqued by what they had onstage with them, among which were a tabla set and a keyboard. They would later add a violinist to the mix as well. However my interest was swiftly dissipated.
It’s not that they play badly, it’s just that they were boring. The riffs, melodies and solos felt rehashed, unoriginal, typical. The singer sounded like a third rate cross between Rob Halford and Ralf Scheepers, and he absolutely did not know how to control his screaming. We know you can hit those high notes, but it grows tiresome when it’s all you do. His scream broke a couple of times as well during the “scream for me Brixton – yaooooooowwwwww” part of their act, but more on that later.
However they were pretty energetic, and I must say the violinist saved them, in my opinion, from having an utterly dull show. He added a touch of novelty to the proceedings, with some OTT rock posturing and headbanging, as well as a gleaming smile. In fact they all looked pretty damn happy to be there, even though the crowd weren’t really responding. To be fair, we did give quite a warm reception to the violinist, he really was the saving grace. Unfortunately he’d get something going, a solo or a melody, and then it’d peter out without building to a climactic conclusion. Pity though, he deserved more stage time.
The keyboardist and the tabla player were a waste of space, you couldn’t hear the keyboards much, and well, the tabla player must’ve touched his drums in a grand total of one song. Also, leave the “scream for me” crowd games to the bigger acts; it’s wishful thinking to hope that you’ll get a crowd worked up enough to participate so early on, and besides that whole left side vs right side screamathon competition is pretty old, and the crowd will only respond to a Bruce Dickinson or even a Joacim Cans/ZP Theart doing it. Stick to promoting your material, which means getting in as many songs as you can in your limited time onstage.
I saw Iron Maiden at Earl’s Court last Christmas, with Trivium and Lauren Harris opening. My opinion of Lauren Harris remains the same as when I first saw her last: lovely girl, but with a helluva an annoying voice and stage presence. Lauren is the eldest daughter of Steve Harris. Yup, THE Steve Harris, y’know, founding member, bassist and stalwart of Iron Maiden etc etc. Now I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that her dad played no part in her career, other than implanting the genetic tendencies towards music and all that kinda thing. I’d definitely love to say that. Nothing would give me more pleasure than saying that.
Unfortunately a Lie I cannot tell. Lauren the band plays a very tepid, vapid, even school-girlish type of rock. Uninteresting riffs, some average soloing, really crappy lyrics and overall very superficial KISS/”Girls girls girls” type stuff. Lauren the person has a terrible voice, shrill, piercing, and just unbearable at high volumes. She has the fluttering eyelids cotton candy persona, however she seems to confuse it at times with her vixenish temptress side as well. Her movements and headbanging, as with her singing, lacks conviction – she lacks the ballsiness of other female performers like Doro Pesch and Angela Gossow. To be fair, that’s not the kind of music she plays, nor the kind of image she wishes to portray. However, rock stars and frontmen (women?) need to kick arse, not timidly headbang for a couple of bars, smooth their hair down, and then skip over to the guitar player for a mini-smarm session.
Eye candy, and nothing much musically. I don’t think there were many people there last night that would disagree.
The last time I saw them, they quite disappointed me by playing the entire A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH album. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad album, certainly better than DANCE OF DEATH I thought. But it’s not just nostalgia, to me, old Maiden is good Maiden. They only played five “oldies” the last time I saw them, but damnation, the crowd went absolute bonkers at those five compared to the ten before. They DIDN’T do the entire AMOLAD album this time, and thank god for that. The concert last night was a celebration of 25 years since the release of THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST, and also it was a benefit concert for the original Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr. It would be reasonable to expect a greater weightage towards the older stuff as opposed to the newer material.
Well, there was to a certain extent. Among the opening five songs, there were four I couldn’t identify. I only recognised “These Colours Don’t Run”. Now admittedly I’m not as up to speed on newer Maiden compared to, say, everything up to THE SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON album. Was it just my imagination that the crowd didn’t respond as wildly as they did when the opening riff of “The Trooper” crashed through the speakers? “You take my life and I’ll take yours too/You fire your musket and I’ll run you through!” Complete mayhem.
Let’s get some of the songs they DID play down on paper, as I’m doing this from memory. I’ve already mentioned “These Colours Don’t Run”, they also played “The Evil That Men Do”, “The Number of The Beast”, “2 Minutes to Midnight”, “Iron Maiden”, “Run To The Hills”, “Children of the Damned”, “The Trooper”, “Fear of the Dark”, possibly “No More Lies” and of course, the closing song “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. There were definitely a few more, but I didn’t recognise them or forgot they had been played.
Needless to say, the band were excellent as ever, although I still fail to see Janick’s role in the band. Adrian and Dave were their usual introverted selves, while Steve Harris pranced about the gigantic stage like a madman half his age. Nicko was almost completely obscured by the monster drum set. It looked like it had been built around him. Bruce, for me still one of the best frontmen in the world, was everywhere on the two-tiered Maiden set. Never a still moment with the little buzzy fella. Bouncing around on stage one second, climbing up the set another, teasing poor Nicko, shining spotlights and chucking water into the crowd, jumping star kicks, the lot. And his voice, well, all I can say is that it’s still there, even the screams. All in all, vintage Iron Maiden.
To me, the best songs last night were the oldies (obviously – I mean, “Dance of Death” vs “Aces High”? No contest). However the crowd were frighteningly enthusiastic, and screamed their lungs out. The absolute best songs from last night were those that could be sung along to, and the experience of thousands of fans singing along to the guitar intro on “Fear of the Dark” is spine chilling. Reciting the intro to “Number of the Beast” was extremely fun, and obviously the opening verse to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was roof-lifting.
A rather more emotional moment was when Clive Burr was wheeled out, to minutes and minutes of applause. He looked rather dazed, and his movements were slow as if he wasn’t really there. However I’d like to think that he heard us chanting “Clive! Clive!” and that he did smile to us in response. The man is a legend, contributing to one of the biggest and most influential metal bands in the world, during a period that was slightly before what is now widely regarded as their halcyon era. We definitely wish him well and the best of luck!
It was a Maiden performance, but there were no novices on stage. It was the kind of performance and energy and passion we have come to expect from the East London band, that it’s par for the course, and only a supreme cock-up is deemed worthy of mention.The band’s status among metalheads was won by hard graft, awesome songwriting, musicianship, an amazing live performance in their arsenal and intense gigging. In what must be near the twilight of their careers, they have not disgraced their immense legacy (unlike a certain other English rocker, I’ll give you a clue, he’s from Birmingham and he has a touring festival named after himself). They have had hiccups, the occasional bad album, personnel changes etc, but they have won through to occupy a place in metalheads’ hearts that is open only to a select few, and are truly deserving of the title “Legends”. And after all that, we have a new Maiden album to look forward to next year. We were also promised more Winston Churchill speeches and mummies in live performances next year. Draw your own conclusions.
Iron Maiden: http://www.ironmaiden.com/
Lauren Harris: http://www.myspace.com/laurenharrisuk