06 Aug 2000 - Sumit Chandra at the Tweeter Center
The Odyssey continues! Sunday morning dawned and I woke up to the site that is New York City. I was a little tired but still excited from the events of the night before. However, it was another day and another adventure awaited me! I made my way to the New York airport and rented a car for the drive from New York to Massachusetts for the Sunday evening performance by Iron Maiden at the Tweeter Center, an amphitheater style venue on the outskirts of the Boston Metropolitan area. The drive was a rather pleasant one as I made my way through the rolling hills and picturesque forests of Connecticut and Rhode Island along the Atlantic coast. Before I knew it, I was in Massachusetts and at the Tweeter Center.
As I made my way into the parking lot, the venue was already quite full. There were metal fans all about. They were socializing, drinking, tailgating in the parking lot, all in preparation for the festivities that lay ahead. As I made my way inside, I could kick myself, because Halford was already in the middle of their performance. I sprinted to find some seats and caught the last couple of songs of their set. They were once again being received very well as both the band and the audience appeared to be very much into it. As Halford finished up, the audience was screaming and yelling for more from the Metal God and his bandmates! Queensryche were up next and they went down very well also with a set that featured material from throughout their career. The moral of the night thus far was definitely to get to the show early so one could enjoy the openers.
At this stage the venue was filling up nicely with the covered seated area almost completely full and a fair amount of folks also on the lawn. I made my way briefly backstage and hung out at the Iron Maiden meet n' greet. Janick, Nicko and Adrian were under the tent meeting with fans and signing autographs. I was particularly impressed with a fan who had made the trip from Chile for tonight's show. Near the end of the meet n' greet, Bruce came out to say a hello to the fans. I hadn't realized that it was Bruce's birthday, but the fans were all well informed and they serenaded him by singing Happy Birthday to him in unison! ShowTime was nearing, so I made my way back to the seated area and got settled in for the performance.
It was a beautiful night out with mild temperatures and great air quality. It was also pitch dark now, so the setting was appropriate for Iron Maiden to take the stage! The classical music intro started and the crowd roared in anticipation. As the intro ended, the darkness on stage was broken by a spotlight with Adrian and the opening riff to 'The Wicker Man'. Nicko joined in the fun and then with an explosion Steve, Dave and Janick took the stage. The opening seconds of any Iron Maiden concert always send shivers up my spine and tonight was no different. The crowd roared the arrival of the band who were soon joined by Bruce and his athletic vocal presence belting out the lyrics to the album opener from 'Brave New World'. There was great energy in the air tonight. The venue layout created a compact setting with much of the crowd relatively close to the stage. This added to the overall intimacy of the performance and fueled the energy level even higher. As the band reached the singalong parts of this song, the audience was right behind them singing along to the words and chorus!
Next up was 'Ghost of the Navigator', the second track from 'Brave New World'. The crowd was really loud tonight and this was coupled nicely with the sound quality, which also appeared to be more impactful. Bruce sensed this and took advantage by the getting the audience to join in early and often. The rest of the band was in good form as well with Dave and Adrian facing off and trading riffs, while Steve and Janick maintained their classic poses and added to the overall sound mix! As the song continued to the chorus, there was good feedback in the vocals. The tempo appeared to be a bit racy, perhaps boosted by the energy of the crowd, but the band remained as tight as ever! I was in complete awe of the energy that the crowd possessed tonight. They were brilliant already and it was only the 2nd song of the set! As this song came to a close, Bruce introduced the title track of 'Brave New World'.
The energy level on this song continued at an astonishing level as Bruce delivered the vocals from the front with both of his feet on the monitors. The rest of band was also in good form as Steve and Dave headbanged on one edge of the stage while Adrian and Janick riffed away from their respective spots. The solos were executed fluidly tonight as the three guitarists entered the triple guitar melody while Nicko provided improvisation on the drum fills. As the instrumental onslaught continued, Bruce disappeared and re-emerged at the end to sing the chorus once again from behind the drum riser! The soulful outro of this song came across beautifully as darkness came across the stage once again and the audience roared. Bruce pondered, 'Shall we play something old?' The crowd roared, as Bruce continued 'Shall we play something very very old?' and the crowd roared once again. Nicko started things off with a count of four and the band erupted into 'Wrathchild'! This song always has a strong reaction as it takes most of the audience back to the classic days of Heavy Metal from the early 80's with its punkish rhythms that are so appropriate for raising ones fists in the air! Bruce was enjoying himself as he camped out by Nicko's drum kit and grabbed a stick and played along on the cymbals while Nicko carried the rhythm! Right after Dave's solo, Bruce took timeout to deliver a most wicked scream and then continued with the cymbal crashes! The crowd was abuzz as this song came to an end, and a spotlight rested on Janick who immediately delivered the opening riff to the Powerslave classic '2 Minutes to Midnight'.
The crowd roared and Bruce tempted them with a 'Scream for me Tweeter Center!' as the band exploded into this song. 'Kill for gain or shoot to maim' the crowd chanted as they sang along to the words. As the band reached the chorus, Bruce was supported by Adrian and the entire audience on backing vocals! The band was very charged tonight and it came through very well in their performance. Nicko was an excellent example in his drumming style. He typically has great finesse as a drummer and his drum style has tremendous complexity in his use of the hi-hat and cymbals. Today, he was in a more aggressive groove and his fills and improvisations were definitely of the more punchy variety! This added the right touch to the band's overall sound and aligned very well with the charged and energetic crowd tonight.
At the end of this song, Bruce took a moment to address the crowd. The audience was supercharged and sensing that Bruce was about to speak, they started playing drums on the backs of their chairs to welcome the crowd! This made the whole band smile with Nicko feeling a special sense of camaraderie! He showed his appreciation by throwing a pair of his sticks into the crowd! I noticed a huge banner on the left-hand side of the stage that said, 'New England welcomes Iron Maiden' in Iron Maiden font! Bruce thanked the audience and mentioned how the last time they played the Boston area, there were 3,000 in attendance and tonight there were 12,000. This was definite proof that metal was back! He went on to welcome Queensryche and Halford to the bill and then introduced 'Blood Brothers'.
The sound mix was perfect as the band set sail on this introspective anthem from 'Brave New World'. This song is special to watch performed live because I can't think of a single artist making music today that would create and perform a song like this. This song is so distinctive of the 90s Maiden sound! The lightning rig lowered to create the right angles for the spotlights that accentuated the visual onslaught. Steve was particularly alive during this song tonight; vigorously headbanging and singing along every genuine word and then joining Adrian for backup vocals during the chorus! Bruce was once again on point, as he stood on one leg to deliver the vocals and then glided all over the stage effortlessly while leading the audience in singing along! The audience was once again up to the task and sang along loudly as this song came to a close.
Next up was 'Sign of the Cross' the opener from the 1995 'X-Factor' album. Nicko stood up from his drumkit for the intro to this one and the audience roared their approval. He definitely has to be one of the more loved members of the band! This song has among the most defiant of Maiden lyrics with the first two verses which I absolutely love. I had to put down my pen and pad to join in the headbanging madness. As the song transitioned into the instrumental piece, the band was very precise. They went through the time changes perfectly and each note was played with the unique Maiden passion as they negotiated the twists and turns that this song possesses! As this barrage came to an end, Bruce emerged to sing the last few words in the soulful way that only he can!
Next up was 'The Mercenary' from the 'Brave New World' and the band entered the segment of the set that addresses the topic of War. Bruce loves to use this song as his opportunity to glide all over the stage and took full advantage of the props that had been specifically set up to enable his passage. The rest of the band continued to have fun as Janick used one of Nicko's stick to pick his guitar while Adrian chimed in with a solo in his unique style! The crowd continued to be amazing. I even noticed a guy two rows behind me who had an authentic Eddie mask on during this song! The war theme was continued as Bruce introduced 'The Trooper' with 'Into the valley of death rode the brigade of 600'. This song drove the audience into a total frenzy as everyone sang along. I even saw a couple embracing as both the man and woman sang at the top of their lungs! The fun continued as multiple beach balls made their way through the crowd. One made its way to the stage and Dave gently kicked it back displaying his soccer prowess. The tempo on this blazing track was super fast tonight and it sounded brilliant. I wish I had actually been clocking the band to see how they fared against the song time on the original 'Piece of Mind' CD or on the 'Live After Death' offering! Bruce waved the Union Jacks as this song came to a close and the audience roared again!
Bruce now addressed the audience to introduce 'Dream of Mirrors' from the 'Brave New World' album. He mentioned that most of the members of the band had Progressive Rock as their influences in the past and the next song was about 'Altered States, Different Realities, all done by mirrors'! The band roared into this song and the audience joined them by clapping along to the first few verses! Adrian added an extra guitar sprinkle to the initial melody as the rest of the band made their way through the instrumental section like an Allied force through the south of Iraq. The beach balls continued to fly and Bruce joined into the fun with a well-placed kick back to the audience! Next up was 'The Clansman' and Bruce introduced the song about William Wallace and Scotland that has special meaning in this part of America which was the focal point of the US fight for Independence in the late 1700s. There was no backdrop change tonight that featured the artwork for this particular song but the rest of the delivery was still very well choreographed with the guitarists congregating front and center during the instrumental piece, while Steve switched beautifully between his normal bass and his acoustic bass. The audience again enthusiastically sang along which set the stage nicely for 'The Evil That Men Do' from the Seventh Son album.
The band charged the audience once again, like an offensively minded soccer team that keeps on coming in waves! It was as if the band was challenging the audience to see if they could raise the energy level even higher and once again the crowd was up to the task! Bruce added a little extra to the vocals on this one tonight, by going higher and longer on several notes! It was very well received although I noticed the absence of the walking Eddie during the performance tonight. The band's delivery was still very precise as they delivered another work of fine musicianship and set the stage for 'Fear of the Dark'. Bruce made the comment 'Darkness rhymes with Lochness' to allude to the monstrous theme of the album with the same name! The audience was charmed by the offering and without any suggestion from Bruce they waived their hands side to side and sang along to the opening of this track. This is audience reaction that many rap artists aspire to and beg for from their audience and tonight Maiden was able to accomplish this without even uttering a word! Nicko was once again slaphappy on the skins as he continued his aggressive drummer persona tonight and Bruce continued to cover every last corner of the stage like a man unleashed! During the chorus, Steve and Janick hopped and the audience hopped along! As the solos and the instrumental onslaught came to an end, the crowd expressed their appreciation loud and strong!
Now it was time for the energy to reach it's peak, as Bruce demanded 'Scream for me Tweeter Center, Scream for me Tweeter Center, the Iron Maiden!' and Dave instigated the opening riff! The audience was in a complete frenzy as madness descended on Tweeter Center. One of the channels in the sound let out during the first verse, but it was quickly restored and during the chorus it was pure magic. During the break, Eddie finally made his entrance to a tremendous ovation. It was the Ed Hunter walking Eddie and he made his way across the stage to spar with the band members. Tonight's exchange between Eddie and Janick turned out to be rather humorous. Janick would play a few notes and then during a break in the riffing, he would get in a shot at Eddie who would react to try to defend himself. During one exchange, Janick got in a shot to Eddie's groin, and in typical male monster fashion (if there is such a thing) Eddie reacted by covering his groin to protect which absolutely made me crack up laughing! Every corner of the crowd was absolutely alive tonight and as this song came to a close, there was an absolutely amazing roar! Some fans in the front held up a sign wishing Happy Birthday to Bruce as well as a neatly packaged gift while the rest of the audience got busy stomping on the seats to scream for more.
They would not be disappointed as the words 'Woe to You' came across the PA and the audience realized that 'Number of the Beast' would be gracing their ears in just a few moments! The backdrop changed to show the artwork from the 1982 classic of the same name as the opening riff was unleashed by Steve and Dave. Bruce belted the opening words leading up to the haunting scream that makes this song so memorable! The crowd was active from the beginning. In fact, one ambitious fan actually did some crowd surfing in the first two rows. I also saw that Ross Halfin was busy taking some pictures which I suspect will turn up somewhere in the future! The ending to this song was triumphant as always and the backdrop was changed back to the cover of 'Brave New World' as the band entered 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'.
Steve led the audience in clapping along to the intro as Bruce delivered the words that define the plight of a man about to be taken to the gallows. The band charged once again during this song and another treat was delivered to the audience. The breaks were tight and precise and the melodies were mood setting and haunting! As the band came upon the solos, Bruce demanded that the complying audience 'Scream for Me' once again and the reply came back as expected! The solos were delivered masterfully while Bruce made his way from side to side to get the audience prepared for raising there hands in unison! He first started with the right and then the left and then the whole audience at once! At the end, everyone in the band raised their arms in unison as Dave embarked on some extended feedback improvising! This set the stage nicely for the set closer 'Sanctuary'.
During this song, Bruce took some time to reflect on the audience tonight. He mentioned that they were in Madison Square Garden last night and the audience came back with resounding boos. It's no secret in the US that there is a strong rivalry between Boston and New York and the audience tonight didn't want to have any part of being outdone by their fellow fans in the Big Apple! Bruce continued by mentioning that he had proclaimed New York to be the Heart and Soul of Metal in the US, but he also took the chance to proclaim that Boston truly had Balls of Steel! He concluded by saying, 'Given the choice between my pride and my dick, I know which one I'd choose'! The crowd roared as the band resumed this classic. The three guitarists used this last opportunity to show their improvisation skills, while Bruce took the opportunity to interact with the entire audience once more. With a final three-guitar melody the song and tonight's performance came to a close to thunderous approval by the fans! Bruce thanked the audience for being 'Fu*kin' awesome' tonight and bid them goodbye as the rest of the bands exchanged slaps with the audience before bidding farewell themselves!
This was the end of another brilliant Iron Maiden performance which appeared to have even more intensity than the brilliance at Madison Square Garden the night before. Thankyou once again Iron Maiden and if this is truly a sign of things to come, then I can't wait till I see the band again in Detroit in the middle of August!
- Sumit Chandra