The Book of Souls – Iron Maiden World Tour

The Book of Souls – Iron Maiden World Tour

My husband (boyfriend at the time) introduced me to Iron Maiden my senior year in high school. They were a gateway band for me, opening my eyes to an entire world of heavy metal. Then, and now, I was astounded by every aspect of Iron Maiden’s music, from the three-dimensional feel to their instrumentals to the meaningful lyrics to their absolutely fantastic signer. I’ve never really been into the idea of live concerts (I’ve always preferred theater or musicals instead), but we’ve always agreed we’d jump at an opportunity to see Iron Maiden live.

Fast forward thirteen years and the opportunity finally presented itself. When Iron Maiden announced their Book of Souls World Tour, I camped their Facebook page until, at last, they revealed that Vancouver was going to be among the stops.

We live about a five hour drive from Vancouver, which is short by Canadian standards. (We lived 8 hours from Toronto when we lived in Quebec and it wasn’t all that unusual for us to take the drive.) A day in the car is a small price to pay for seeing Iron Maiden in person. We departed plenty early, planning to make however many stops we needed, and conscious of the fact than an accident on a Canadian highway means waiting until the road is clear again (because alternative routes really aren’t available).

The drive was more scenic than we expected. Our mountains might not quite compare to Scotland’s but they certainly are majestic. I will admit to being nervous on the road. I wasn’t driving, thank goodness, but my husband is a bit of a saint for putting up with all my cringing on those winding mountain roads. The problem is, you go up really high and sometimes you’re right on the edge of the mountain, meaning there’s nothing but a barrier between you and the drop. And I kind of have this thing about heights. But if you can get over the heights thing, the drive is beautiful! Especially when you get close to the city and you end up driving down these gorgeous tree-lined roads.

We arrived early enough to visit Ikea because we don’t have one locally and we needed a few things. (Like extra silverware that matches the old stuff so that when I want a tea spoon there’s actually one clean.) Afterward we headed downtown to find a place to park and eat. We ended up parking near the stadium and sticking close. Our choice of dinner destination was unfortunate, as the kitchen kept running out of the stuff we ordered before they could bring it despite professing to be an ‘event oriented’ place aware of the concert happening down the street in a couple hours. But we won’t dwell on that because, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter.

Many people skipped the opening act. The Raven Age was pretty good, better than I expected them to be (I had no prior experience with their music). They had a tough job, playing for a crowd that wasn’t there to see them. They kept the energy level high even when the audience didn’t fully engage. I suppose that’s what you have to do in the early days as a band, and they certainly have a lot of potential.

But then Iron Maiden came on stage.

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(The least blurry photo I have)

Phenomenal is a word I have used to describe their performance, but it doesn’t seem good enough. Nothing does. The show opened with a little CG trailer that played on the monitors flanking the stage. Then a single spotlight focused on the lead singer as he began the opening song. He stood in front of a smoking cauldron.

There were so many fantastic and memorable moments from this concert, I think I’ll remember it all for a long time. There was the moment Bruce came out in a red jacket waving the British flag to sing The Trooper, my husband’s all time favorite song. That was the moment I watched a man whose emotional settings are pretty much all 1’s leap to his feet, grab my arm and pull me up beside him while he headbanged and airguitared and we both sang the lyrics at the top of our lungs.

There was the moment someone came out on stilts, dressed as Eddie, the band’s mascot, and the lead singer (Bruce) ripped a heart out of the costume’s chest, dunked it in the cauldron, wrung it out over Janick’s head (one of the guitarists) and then threw it into the audience. There was the moment a small stuffed lizard appeared through one of the exit curtains and another guitarist appeared to fight with it. Bruce singing Powerslave in a luchadore mask. Bruce putting a noose around his own neck during Hallowed Be Thy Name. Singing Fear of the Dark with 17,000 people and the band.

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These men may be getting old, but they’re still a powerful presence on stage. There wasn’t a moment the energy lulled from the time they stepped out to the moment they disappeared back behind stage – and they were on that stage for a solid two hours. There wasn’t a lot of talking, though the lead singer did address the crowd with a few details about the various songs. Every time he said ‘Scream for me Vancouver,’ I found my voice, even after I screamed my throat raw.

I could have stayed in that stadium forever. I certainly didn’t want the show to end. I left with my ears ringing and a huge grin on my face. I would see them again in a heartbeat, even if the show was identical. I didn’t have to ask my husband if he enjoyed himself, I saw that he had.

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I walked away from that show with more than just an intense fulfillment of a lifelong dream, more than just the joy of having been entertained for three straight hours. I couldn’t help thinking of my career as a fledgling writer, still trying to find my voice, still trying to find my space. I couldn’t help comparing myself to the opening band, The Raven Age. I’m still playing for a crowd that isn’t mine. I’m still trying to show my work to the fans of others, hoping they might give me a chance, hoping they might find something they like and be willing to come back later.

But if I work hard, if I keep focused on moving forward, if I don’t let the demons of doubt discourage me, someday I might just be an Iron Maiden.

We were too pumped to sleep after the concert (as we anticipated), so instead of getting a hotel, we opted to drive home. The drive home was uneventful, and ironically less stressful because I couldn’t see beyond the reach of the high beams. It was a moonless night and all but the last fourth of the stretch was well-lit at regular intervals. So it’s somewhat ironic that the only memorable event occurred on that last stretch of highway.

Suddenly the road ahead was lit not by street lamps, but fire. We live in forest fire country, so my first thought was that something had set the countryside ablaze. We were lucky it was on the opposite side of the road. Turns out it was a truck. An eighteen-wheeler. On fire. My husband thinks that one of the rear tires overheated and caught fire, setting the cargo container on fire (and its contents if it had any). It looked as though the cockpit had been disconnected so we assume the driver was okay. We continued past, of course, but it freaked us out. I looked for information in the news the next morning, but it seems no one reports on truck fires in the middle of nowhere at 2:45 am… go figure.

Overall, it was a great trip, one we’re going to remember for a long time, and it fulfills a wish.

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