Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review- Iron Maiden w/ Alice Cooper @ DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 18, 2012, Clarkston, MI

It was the fall of 1985 when Live After Death came out. I was 12 years old. I had a meager allowance and a paper route, and was spending all of my money on comic books. Christmas was coming, and so I asked my Mom for the album. She said no. So I did what any resourceful lad would do...I went to my Grandma.

Fast forward to my family's annual X-Mas part the Saturday before the holiday. We are opening presents, and to my Mom's “delight”, I tore open my vinyl copy of Live After Death. When my Mom pressed my Grandma about why she would buy me something that looked like that, she said “I thought that it was like The Monster Mash”. My stoner Uncle Chad, eyes bloodshot and glassed over, was looking at the album, which stated on the back: running time 100 minutes. He said, in his faaaaaar out maaaaaan voice, Woah, that is one long record. Rest in peace, Grandma and Uncle Chad. Oh, and I still have that vinyl copy of Live After Death, right down to the T-shirt order forms. What does any of this have to do with anything? Nothing...and everything. It brings us to this...

Iron Maiden w/ Alice Cooper @ DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 18, 2012, Clarkston, MI

The T-shirts that I didn't buy.

Different merch stands had different designs.

It was strange seeing Alice in the daylight, and also strange seeing him going on first. His showtime was 7:30, and he was the opening act for this tour. Detroit has always been sacred ground for The Coop. He could sell out shows here when he was playing smaller venues across the country. In any case, I was happy to get an opening act of his caliber. 

The Vincent Price introduction was piped through the PA, and the band launched into The Black Widow. Alice now has a triple axe attack, including a female guitarist.

Brutal Planet, while not a favorite of mine, worked well for the Iron Maiden crowd. I'm Eighteen and No More Mr. Nice Guy are standards. They are great songs and need to be in the set, even if the faithful have seen them live time after time. 

Why on Earth would Alice do Hey Stoopid in 2012? Why not do something off of the new album? It makes no sense when you have an album less than a year old out there. An album which he was selling T-shirts for, for crying out loud. Instead, we got the abysmal Hey Stoopid.

The female guitar player played a solo, and the then full band came out and did Billion Dollar Babies. Alice did the money on a sword schtick as usual. Feed My Frankenstein, another song I can't stand, was up next. At least this one had a prop, a guy in a costume on stilts.

Poison, off of Alice's last commercially successful album, Trash, made sense being in the set. While it is cheesy and schmaltzy, it was a big hit and Rock fans of the late '80s remember it. In a nostalgia tour setting like this, it's a case of “give the fans what they want”...even if it wasn't what I wanted. Ha!

Wicked Young Man was another I don't care for it but it makes sense for the Metal crowd inclusion. The band was in faux Nazi gear for this song, and it just smacked of Marilyn Manson. The album that this song is from, Brutal Planet, was pretty much a response to Marilyn Manson ripping Alice off in the first place, so I guess it makes sense in a roundabout way. 

Then we got the guillotine/ execution medley: the end snippet of Killer and end portion of I Love The Dead. Alice really crammed in a lot of production into a support act slot. 

The props for School's Out were used, which surprised me. What surprised me more is that Alice is still doing the Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 snippet towards the end of the song. That was it. 45 minutes, and no real crowd banter. No “gosh, we love Detroit, blah blah blah” wasting time, just 45 minutes of Rock. 

Sorry about the poor quality of this one, but the energy was there. This was seconds after they took the stage, and Bruce Dickinson was like the Flash.

It was twilight as the intro for Moon Child came over the PA and the band tore into the song. This tour leans heavily on the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album and stage set from 1988. I was tired of Maiden by the time that this album was released, so there was no nostalgia for me here. Can I Play With Madness was next, and it is a pleasant song that works well live.

I have waited forever to hear The Prisoner live. The Number of the Beast was the first Maiden album that I bought. 2 Minutes To Midnight is great.

I haven't heard them play Afraid To Shoot Strangers live since 1992. When it came out that year, it was about the Gulf War. Now, it's lyrics can be applied to any number of wars that we have waged in the name of democracy. The more things change...

The Trooper is another classic that the diehards have heard countless times live. Ditto The Number of the Beast. I thought that the beast stage prop was great. This show was jam packed with pyro, bombs, smoke, lights, and props. The turnout for tonight's show was excellent, as the venue was over 90% full. 

I saw them do Phantom of the Opera in 1999. This song doesn't really work well live. I would have rather heard a song off of the new album, honestly. Maiden didn't do anything newer than 1992 tonight. Run To The Hills is not only one of the greatest Iron Maiden songs ever written, but one of the best songs ever written, period. The drum fills on this song just kill me. I never get tired of hearing this one live. 

Wasted Years was my piss break/ get a drink song. Somewhere In Time was such a huge disappointment to me when it came out. It wasn't until No Prayer For The Dying when I started to take the band seriously again. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son was a showstopper, but in a bad way. It is way too long and Prog-Rock-y for a live setting. The crowd just stood there. Maiden has always swayed between the head and the gut, and this is from their more progressive, cerebral era. I prefer the albums where they had more groove and punch. Give me Piece of Mind or Powerslave!

The Clairvoyant was another snoozer for me. Again, I didn't like this album upon it's release in 1988, and I don't like it now. I would have rather heard something off of one of the last few albums or an early deep cut. 

Fear of the Dark has become a live staple over the past 20 years. The song Iron Maiden...what's not to love? It's energetic and punchy. This was the end of the set proper.

The baby in the fetus moved. Awesome. I missed the shot where flames came out of Eddie's head.

The recorded intro Churchill's Speech led into Aces High. I saw them open with this one when Bruce Dickinson rejoined the band in 1999. 

The Evil That Men Do...copy and paste my comments about other songs off of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son here. 

Running Free ended things on a high note. It was nice to see Iron Maiden again. I hadn't seen them live since 2003, and it's always nice to stop in and see “old friends”, and see them still doing well, and looking fit, healthy, and energetic. I'll try not to be such a stranger in the future.
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  1. Somewhere in Time is my favourite Maiden album...

    1. It's okay, but I wanted so much more from them at the time. That and Turbo by Judas Priest signaled the end of traditional Heavy Metal. It became like the Dark Crystal: the light/melody became Glam, and the dark/heavy became Thrash, and neither was better off for it. 1980-1986 was the golden age of Heavy Metal.

  2. "Clairvoyant" and "The evil that men do" are rare t-shirts