Ever since I had heard that Iron Maiden will be coming back to India for the third consecutive year to perform in Bangalore, I had promised myself and almost everybody else that I’ll be there. Last year I had attended their Mumbai concert (\m/) and I have a T-shirt to prove it. But this time round I had to face the grim reality that I was not earning anymore. The ticket was 1600 bucks. Pretty steep for a guy with stagnant funds. But I thought heck with it. I’ll go anyway.
Ignoring my parents’ raised eyebrows I boarded the bus to Bangalore hoping for a performance that would be more brutal than the last one (the last one literally brutal….I had been punched, kicked, jabbed without being in the mosh pit!….I had to come out of the crowd for water which made me and Alok miss Fear of the Dark…..my apologies Alok). The journey was like the many others that I had endured in the last two years- loud Kannad movies, uncomfortable seats, erratic air conditioning and a co-passenger who either snores or farts all night long. The latter is almost always constant.
On reaching Bangalore I had the familiar nauseating feeling. But this time I was just a tourist. No quick showers and making a run to the office. My roomies picked me up and by noon we were on Palace Grounds. On our way there we could see scores of metal heads coming out of pubs like Purple Haze, Guzzlers, Pecos after finishing the traditional pre-concert binges.
Every time I enter Palace Grounds I get goose bumps. That place has so many awesome memories- Scorpions, Megadeth, Machine Head, Satyricon, Parikrama…The excitement starts right from the entrance where you can see rock fans sporting and representing their fav bands which vary from heavy metal like Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Sepultura, Bodom, Dimmu Borgir to the oldies like Frank Zappa, Led Zep, Sabbath, Floyd. It’s like a heavy metal red-carpet. You just want to be one in the crowd. People trying to sneak in- cigarettes, weed, lighters, digi cams or other contrabands- is not an unfamiliar sight. At the end of the day I think that place has more cigarette butts than all of Bangalore!
The arena was the same as the Megadeth concert. Two stages- Smaller one for the opening bands and the bigger one for the headlining bands. The smaller bands started at about 2 pm. The first band to play was called ‘Slayed’ (Obvious Slayer rip-off). Their songs were okay-ish. The second band up was a Pune based band called Abraxas. They had recently won the CRI contest and I was really looking forward to see a Pune band perform. And boy were they awesome! Their lead vocalist was a skinny guy with an absolute brutal voice. After singing about four originals they did a Lamb of God cover. That song had the biggest mosh pit. It was crazy. But I ended up banging my head on the periphery of the pit. The last couple of encounters in the pit were rather unpleasant (I know they are supposed to be that way). A hard kick in the stomach in Mumbai, a blow on the nose at the Satyricon concert and a vicious punch in the chin at the Megadeth gig (the last one was a result of my own drunken jive-my roomie Nikhil had later happily informed me)
The bands that followed were Bangalore’s own Synaps and Kryptos, a British band called Cyanide Serenity (stupid name….stupid band) and an Italian band called ‘Brandon Ashley & The Silver Bugs’- I wish their songs were as interesting as their name!(also I’m pretty sure that one of the ‘Bugs’ was gay)
The main act was opened by one of my fav Indian bands- Parikrama. They belted out a few originals only after starting with a trademark AC/DC cover. The crowd had started to gather in front of the main stage. With military precision everybody took out their cigarettes, joints, bongs or other inebriating devices and started smoking. The atmosphere was already hazy. I don’t smoke- but a rock show is not complete without that familiar revolting smell of marijuana. A guy in front of me had managed to sneak in a joint under his collar. After enjoying a few cushes (I hope that’s the word) he passed it on to a friend. After much cursing he got it back with only the butt or what was left of it. Poor bloke….he was really disappointed!
After Parikrama the stage was empty for twenty minutes. The crowd was almost at its wits end and we could here the familiar catcalls like ‘Start the f*cking show!’ After shouting ‘Maiden!’ for what seemed to be an eternity suddenly the stage went dark…..and we heard that awesome opening riff of Aces High. I went crazy. We all went crazy. Everybody ran and tried to get as close to the stage as they could (A common phenomenon triggered by mass hysteria and mounting impatience). After the crowd found its rhythm and I found my other hand, everybody started banging their heads and throwing up the devils horns. The regulars were swaying wildly to start a pit while the less regulars (like me) were busy taking pictures. Iron Maiden was in business.
After the first song, Bruce Dickinson informed us that we were ‘one fu*king wild lot’. He took a moment and happily let us know that Iron Maiden had outsold Pink Floyd and Beatles in the last year. So why not celebrate? What followed was a relentless onslaught of some brilliant operatic vocals and five minute guitar solos.
The setlist was like my own fav playlist- Aces High, 2 minutes to midnight, Number of the beast, The Trooper (during which I went berserk…..I hit three guys in the head and kicked one in the shin), Run to the hills, Wasted Years, Powerslave, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Evil That Men Do, Phantom of the Opera, Children of the Damned, Fear of the Dark and Hallowed be thy Name.
After getting Fear of the Dark and Hallowed back to back I was dizzy with ecstasy. I shouted every last word I knew from the songs. I think I even shouted the guitar solos. I banged my head till I could bang no more. I punched everybody within an arms distance. I also got punched by everybody within an arms distance.
Andy Murray played the perfect guitar solos (which I have by-hearted after a million repeats), Steve Harris’ bass was spot on and Bruce Dickinson was just himself- crazy, energetic and entertaining. Be it changing into outrageous costumes after every song or monkeying across the stage-he kept the adrenaline pumping. Before the last song they promised that they’ll be back the next year.
So, my second Maiden concert was a blast. Picked up another tour T-shirt this time. Only 800 bucks. Given the cash deficit after this concert, I really need to start saving for the next one.
(Eddie is the Iron Maiden’s mascot. ‘He is a perennial fixture in the often violent album cover art’- Wikipedia)