In 2008, Iron Maiden went on their massive Somewhere Back In Time Tour. This was one of the biggest and most ambitious Maiden tours in years. They wanted to go back to the old days, performing nothing but the hits, and reliving the highlights of all their 80s sounds. While I had seen this show in March of 2008, it was so grand that I wanted to see it again. So when tickets went on sale for their June performance at the PNC Bank Arts Center, I was in.
Attending this show with me were Metal Eddie, my best friend Tommy, and a good friend, Rick. There was rain in the forecast as we pulled into the parking lot to start our tailgating fun, but we didn’t think much about it. Perhaps we would get lucky and the rain would pass us by. While the sky was cloudy, there wasn’t any rain coming down, so I remained optimistic. We were sitting on the lawn for this concert (although we knew there would be no actual sitting at an Iron Maiden show) and a downpour would leave us soaked to the bone. With Iron Maiden performing all of their hits and then some, I didn’t really care if I got drenched.
Gator-Vodkas were the drink of the day in the parking lot. I was big into Vodka then (I’ve since moved on to Scotch) and I remember that I made my Gator-Vodkas (Gatorade and Vodka in case you’re curious) a little on the strong side. OK, they were a lot on the strong side. And I drank all 32 ounces of mine in less than an hour. Needless to say, prior to the start of the show, I was pretty ripped.
As the opening acts performed, I went searching for food. Burgers and pretzels filled my stomach and helped take the edge off my very large buzz. While I was enjoying myself, I did not want to be wasted for the show. What would be the point in that? I paid to see the performers, not fall on my ass in a drunken stupor.
By the time Iron Maiden got ready to take the stage two things happened. The first was that my buzz wore off to the point where I was in a blissful state and ready to really enjoy the concert. The second thing that happened was that the skies opened up and the rain came down. The timing of the rain was unbelievable. The moment that Iron Maiden stormed the stage, the rain came crashing down hard. A torrential downpour flooded the lawn.
Lots of lawn people scattered for cover, but not us. I turned my face up to the sky and said let the rain fall. Tommy laughed about it. Rick was indifferent, and Metal Eddie went seeking shelter. He was able to find a spot in the amphitheater, somehow getting past the guards and into the covered area. We wouldn’t see Metal Eddie for the rest of the night.
NO – THIS IS NOT US, BUT IT’S A GREAT VIDEO SHOWING HOW HARD IT RAINED
HERE’S ANOTHER – AGAIN, NOT US
Rick, on the other hand, made some new friends and shared the cover of their tarp, occasionally coming over to check on Tommy and I. We were having the time of our lives, rain be damned. We just stood in the rain, enjoying the show, and not really feeling the effects of the water soaking us to the core. That’s the thing with an outdoor concert in the rain. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. It really doesn’t matter how much wetter you get.
Maiden was in peak form. They had been on the road for a few months by that point and were able to hone their show to perfection. Ace’s High kicked off the night and from there it was nothing but classic hits. 2 Minutes To Midnight, Revelations, The Trooper, and Wasted Years, were the songs that started off the evening. From there, it only got better.
Hit after hit after hit was performed and the crowd ate it up. Bruce Dickinson was in fine form, running all over the stage like a madman, singing with his siren voice that was still able to hit the high notes even after all these years. As usual, he demanded the energy from the crowd and they responded. Not one person sat for this show, as Maiden would not allow that to happen. And still the rain came crashing down. Tommy and I just stood there laughing and loving the music. Even with the rain, it was one of the greatest nights of my life.
By the time Fear Of The Dark was played, I was in ecstasy. I jumped and sang and thrashed around the lawn, taking in the music and the power of Iron Maiden live in concert. I also knew what was coming next, a little visit from none other than Eddie.
And sure enough, Iron Maiden was the next song performed and the mascot of all mascots appeared. Eddie exploded onto the stage and the fans erupted. Iron Maiden (the song) sounded as great as ever, and Eddie was a sight to behold, hanging from behind the drum kit, waving in the air and becoming the highlight of the evening to many fans.
The encore was intense, and still what I consider one of the best encores in concert history. Moonchild, followed by The Clairvoyant, finished up with Hallowed Be Thy Name. Bruce Dickinson still had the intensity he showed for the beginning of the show, although it was two hours later and he had sung his heart out all night long. Dickinson is a true legend and one of the best lead singers in all of rock. I personally feel that he never gets the credit he deserves. To be able to command the crowd the way he had all night long and to still be able to produce such energy after an amazing two-hour performance is just mind boggling. He’s one of the main reasons that Iron Maiden is such an incredible live act.
During The Clairvoyant, Eddie made his return, this time dressed in his Somewhere Back In Time garb. He walked across the stage much the same way he did in March, with the fans going wild and loving every moment of the action. Eddie is the true mascot of metal and anyone who tells you differently is a liar.
As the last notes of Hallowed Be Thy Name rang out through the June night, the rain stopped. It didn’t slow and then taper off; it literally stopped, as if someone had turned the shower off. That made Tommy and I laugh even harder. I half wondered if it was a special effect the band had for their performance.
We met up with everyone in the parking lot, tried our best to dry off and said our goodbyes. Metal Eddie had a great time from under the pavilion, Rick had made some new friends, and Tommy and I got drenched but loved every second of it. It was one of the best Iron Maiden shows I had ever been to and it will live in my memory for a long, long time.
Intro (Churchill’s Speech)
2 Minutes To Midnight
The Number Of The Beast
Can I Play With Madness
The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Heaven Can Wait
Run To The Hills
Fear Of The Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name