Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Iron Fucking Maiden in Lincoln: July 9, 2017

I have been thinking a lot about "bucket list bands", bands I would most want to see once in my lifetime.  For a long time, Iron Maiden was absolutely at the top of that list.  So, when it was announced that Iron Maiden would be playing in Lincoln, Nebraska, I absolutely had to go.  And honestly, they were every bit as good as I had them built up in my mind.

But before we get to the Iron Maiden performance, I have to talk about the seats.  The venue was Pinnacle Bank Arena, a large structure built in the last few years and already attracting a number of large-market shows.  My wife and I have previously seen Motley Crue and Def Leppard headline shows there.  My father works for the company that built the arena and the company has luxury suite seats.  My dad got my wife and me tickets in the luxury suite.  We had free drinks and snacks, and very nice seats to enjoy the concert.  It was definitely a great night.

Opening the show was Ghost, who are embroiled in a bit of a legal controversy these days.  Singer Papa Emeritus has replaced all of the previous Nameless Ghouls with new Nameless Ghouls.  The difference is actually seemless.  We saw the band last year headlining at a smaller venue and they were just as good as they were back then.  It was obviously a shorter set, but most of the expected songs were played.  While not quite as dynamic as they were when they headlined their own show, Ghost still put on an impressive performance.

After a short set change, an animated sequence started up featuring Eddie in the rainforests of South America.  This was the Book of Souls tour, spotlighting the band's most recent double album, which was their best album since the Brave New World reunion.  Songs from the new album featured heavily, which was to be expected.  The band started things off with "If Eternity Should Fail".  The latest album has a theme revolving around the Mayan civilization and much of the stage design (and the Eddie design) reflected this theme.  The stage was set up to resemble Mayan ruins and even Nicko McBrain's drum set was shiny and gold (my wife thought it was pretty).  Bruce Dickinson at one point danced around the stage with a monkey mask on and even presented guitarist Adrian Smith with a banana, which seemed to surprise him.

Iron Maiden balanced the new songs with a bunch of old favorites.  Unfortunately due to some sort of legal dispute, "Hallowed be Thy Name" was not played.  They did play "Powerslave", "The Trooper", "Fear of the Dark", and other fan favorites.  Musically, the band sounded amazing.  It is extremely hard to believe that the members of this band are in their late 50's (especially with as much running around as they did).  They sounded extremely powerful, and Dickinson's voice was still amazing after all this time.  The band closed things off with "The Number of the Beast", "Blood Brothers", and "Wasted Years".

Between the music and the stage show, I can honestly say that this was one of my favorite concerts I have ever attended.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dokken, Firehouse, Great White, and Hericane Alice at the Platte County Fair, July 8, 2017

My wife's music tastes have been improving over the last couple of years.  Lately she has been almost exclusively listening to 1980's hard rock/heavy metal.  Scorpions have been one of her favorite bands for several years, but she has really gotten into groups like Cinderella, Motley Crue, Poison, and groups like that.  Lately, she has been really enjoying Iron Maiden, W.A.S.P., Accept, and other legitimate metal bands.

Recently, we found out that Dokken, Firehouse, Jack Russell's Great White, and Hericane Alice would be playing at the Platte County Fair in Columbus.  Not the most exciting of venues, and I can not imagine that these bands are thrilled with the idea of playing small county fairs, but it was a pretty decent opportunity to check out some groups that my wife really enjoys.  And I will admit to liking Dokken quite a bit.

Hericane Alice was the first band to take the stage, and I will admit to knowing next to nothing about this band prior to hearing about this concert.  They do have a page on the Metal Archives, but I have never heard them before.  And this was not exactly the greatest of introductions.  Three of the first five songs they played were covers ("Radar Love", "American Band", and "Highway Star"), and most of those featured extended jam breaks.  They also played for quite a long time for an unknown opening act.  After their set was over, I was mostly irritated.

I was pretty surprised that Jack Russell's Great White was the next act to play.  Now, Jack Russell is the most identifiable member of Great White, so why the name is what it is is something of a mystery to me.  They have a number of hits, and played their most recognizable songs, including "Rock Me" (one of my wife's favorite songs), "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", and "Mista Bone".  They honestly sounded pretty good for a band that has been around for more than 30 years at this point.  Russell sounded terrific and the band was pretty impressive.

Firehouse was celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year.  I have never been a Firehouse fan personally and cannot name more than a couple of their songs.  My wife, on the other hand, has found several songs she enjoys by the group.  I will give them credit though, they were probably the band that sounded the best of the night.  I still would not say I will be looking into more of their stuff, but I do not completely hate them.  So, there is that.

Finally, and I do mean finally as it was after 11:00, Dokken took the stage.  Right away, it was pretty obvious that Don Dokken was not in the best of moods.  He complained about the heat and the time, and due to technical issues, the set changes took a very long time.  His voice was quite weathered as well.  Now, Dokken, the man not the band, had some medical issues recently, and that might have been a contributing factor.  Current guitarist Jon Levin was terrific, easily as impressive as former shredder George Lynch.  Dokken played most of their best songs, including "Breaking the Chains", "Alone Again", "Into the Fire", and "Don't Close Your Eyes".  Musically, Dokken was as good as I had hoped, but Don Dokken's voice just was not there.

It was a pretty decent show.  I likely would not have gone had it not been for my wife, but the bands were pretty good.  Of course, the best concert of the weekend would occur the next night.  Check back soon for that writeup.