Yesterday ( August 16th): the day had come, a day I had been looking forward to for months: the Iron Maiden concert. The first concert ever on the well-known TT Circuit in Assen.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank my ex-wife Petra for the ticket, fantastic birthday present!
All right, my best friend Jorrin and I left pretty early, part because we had to pick up two people (An English couple – Dave and Kate) at their hotel, and part because Jorrin (and that English couple as well) had competed and won in the ‘First to the Barrier’ competition at the fan-club. If you win in that competition you are one of 60 people (who can all take one friend along) who are the first to be let on to the concert grounds, before the main entrance opens, which naturally is a guarantee for a spot on the first barrier of the stage. Special bracelet on our wrists, and yeah! All the way up front, dead centre of stage. It did raise some eyebrows and a couple of questions from people who entered the normal way, since they where the first ones through the gates, they had not expected to see people in front of them. Some explanation later got the remark: “that is cool!”.
After a few hours of baking in the sun (the weather was – against all odds – beautiful that day) Lauren Harris kicked off the concert. The lady in question does not owe her record deal to daddy Steve Harris ( founder and bassist of Iron Maiden ). And admitted: she can definitely sing. Her band can definitely play too. But for some reason, those two combined just didn’t sound quite right. However, Lauren is only 24 years young, and everything has been going incredibly fast for her. So it is very likely we’ll be hearing a lot of interesting material from her for years to come. Unfortunately on this day, she didn’t seem able to get things warmed up with the audience of 27,000.
Wow! I had only heard of the band, but it stopped there. I had never even heard hem, or heard about them, so I was open to everything. (Just like with Lauren Harris by the way). The five gentleman and one lady blew me completely out of my boots though. Fiesty powermetal, amazing vocals of the singer (Roy Kahn) backed up by the guitarist and the (background) vocalette combined with a dazzling presence on stage. The audience clearly woke up, and fast. This band immediately earned it’s way to the top of my ‘buy this’ list. I can recommend this band to anyone who appreciates Iced Earth.
The only band with a dutch home-base, and the gentlemen of Iron Maiden are fans of this band (or so rumor has it), and Within Temptation are Maiden fans. They put themselves up quite well, have podium presence and the performance is excellent. A little bit rougher then the studio albums and that’s something I appreciate. The only minor point is something Jorrin remarked, not without merit: their interaction with the audience was completely in Dutch, even though the day had attracted a large amount of foreign fans. English would have been better suited I think, but in all honesty: I can’t blame them, They are playing in The Netherlands, and most of the audience was dutch.
Somewhere between Kamelot and Within Temptation, someone had hit/struck/kicked my achilles tendon quite hard, and after hours of standing, it started to hurt a lot. So I knew I would not be enjoying the entire Iron Maiden concert from my rather perfect spot in front. Thankfully, 2 large screens next to the stage had been put up, and I had told myself to pick up 4 songs in front, and then find some quiet spot to enjoy the rest of the show. (I’m not one to like a crowd anyway). The show itself was exactly as one would expect from Iron Maiden: fantastic. Every song got enjoyed to the fullest, but I had to get away from that spot, walk around a bit, perhaps see if I could find some friends of whom I knew they where there as well. So when the band started ‘number of the beast’, I got myself out of the front arena, and grabbed something to eat and drink. All my friends had been swallowed up by the large mass of 27,000 Iron Maiden fans, so off course, I never found a single one of them. In the mean time, I enjoyed the show and music from a distance, and I admit, from a fair bit away it sounded even better then all the way up front. I recall the reaction of singer Bruce Dickinson on the return of his most famous call: “scream for me Assen”: “wow”. He was clearly stunned a bit by the tremendous roar that came back from all the fans. My vocal cords are still on strike since that day, but hey… it’s Maiden!
Prior to the concert, I had already bought a new Maiden shirt, and toward the end, when I was away from the front of the party, I got a bit chilly. So I quickly purchased a tour-shirt, with the print of Powerslave on it – the album that officially made me a metal and Iron Maiden fan.
This is how a concert is supposed to be. Well organized, well managed. Unfortunately: expensive! But, oh well, you need to give a bit for something like this. It was a party I will not forget for as long as I live, there in Assen, under a lunar eclipse on the TT circuit.