>That is what this charming fellow demanded of the beleaguered young woman working gate A3 at the Minneapolis airport Wednesday afternoon, where the flight to St. Louis was in its 2nd hour of delay:
He had already let everyone in earshot know that he had been traveling for 36 hours straight trying to get home from Asia, and this was the last leg. Our flight was delayed, and he wasn’t happy. He needed his cancer stick, and did not want to lug his bag through security again “because the gawt-dam’d thing weighs thurdy-odd pownds!” He tried to talk her into letting him out on the tarmac, tried to talk her into keeping his bag for him while he went to smoke, but she wasn’t having it.
I generally feel sorry for these gate attendants. They can’t possibly get paid much, and they take a lot of shit. The bummer is that they get so much grief that their knee jerk reaction to even a simple question is often defensive and suspect. I had some of that on Wednesday, but just coasted through it. It was a long day. Ultimately I made it to my destination, and my checked luggage did too. Now I am holed up in a hotel room catching up a little bit. It’s been a crazy couple weeks.
Since my last post, I spent Memorial Day weekend in Moab, UT. It was awesome. I’d write more about that, but I intend to write about that for New West. If you are interested at all, I did upload a bunch of photos from the trip to my Flickr page. You can check that set out here.
Of course a vacation wouldn’t have been a vacation without a bookstore, and we found a great one in Moab called Back of Beyond Books. Very Ed Abbey centric, and very cool. I like small, independent bookstores. They had a first edition copy of Kerouac’s On the Road; I saw it and thought, “Hmm, I bet my friend Ednor would like that.” Then I saw the price tag.
We left for Moab on Friday and came home Tuesday. The rental car guy seemed aghast, and pissed, that I put almost 2000 miles on the rental car (1700+, actually). I guess he doesn’t realize that “unlimited miles” means odds are that car is going to get the shit driven out of it!
Wednesday through Sunday last week we caught up on stuff around the house, went to the market on Saturday, and did a couple hikes. I uploaded a bunch of pictures to my Flickr page for that too; check them out here. Also uploaded a couple pet pictures, those ungrateful little bastards. . . .
Finally, Monday morning Sid and I rented another car and blasted over to Seattle to see IRON MAIDEN. We packed our own travel food, as you can see here:
While it was listed on their tour schedule as Seattle, and Bruce Dickinson was shouting “Scream for me, Seattle!” just as the 13,000+ people wanted him to, it was technically in Auburn, WA, which is a bit south of Seattle. That happens to be the town Sid was born in, and where I met his mom and spent several years living in my late teens/early 20s. Here is the hospital where that little fella unleashed himself on the world:
While some things had changed — mostly up in the neighborhood I first lived, which is the area around Green River Community College — I was actually surprised at the things that have stayed the same. Main Street was a bit different; the comic shop I frequented was gone, but the bookstore was still there:
After the bison had all been run off the cliff and we’d eaten our fill, we eased into the heavy traffic headed up Auburn Way towards the venue, which is an outdoor amphitheater thing called the White River Amphitheater. I’d never been there before; it didn’t exist when I lived out there. The last place I saw Maiden, in Columbus, OH (with Dio and Motorhead), looked almost exactly like it — probably designed by the same architect. I’m not a fan of outdoor venues, but it was still pretty cool. I’m glad we got there when we did, as it was a couple hours early and traffic was already piling up. Meanwhile, as cars vomited forth their occupants, clearly a Heavy Metal Parking Lot was breaking out.
We got in line to get in, but of course Sid was turned away because they wouldn’t let him wear his bullet belt into the venue. “I can’t believe I can’t even wear my bullet belt at a metal show,” he groaned. One pays a high price for fashion; it hurts to be beautiful. At that point, after we walked all the way back to the car, I decided to leave my camera as well so we wouldn’t get turned back again. I later learned I could have had it, as only “professional” cameras are disallowed.
We got inside and got in line for merch. I got ahold of my new friend and fellow blogger, Paul Lesinski, and we triangulated by cell phone and actually met in person. The moment was captured digitally on Paul’s camera by one of his friends:
Scream for me!
From there it was on to the show, and it was awesome. Paul has a great review that pretty much says all that needs to be said; you can check it out here.
I will elaborate only by saying that in my opinion, IRON MAIDEN is currently the Biggest Rock Band in the World. I will defend that proclamation in a further post, probably on New West next week, but it’s the friggin’ truth. No one else is pulling off what they are pulling off these days; actually becoming more relevant than ever before, 30 years into their career. Hell, a guy in front of me had on a tour t-shirt from 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album (arguably Maiden’s finest record), with all the concert dates on the back. What I didn’t realize is that the show on that tour that I saw (at the Seattle Coliseum), which Guns & Roses opened, happened exactly 20 years + 1 day before this show; it was on 6/1/1988. How many bands of that era are still going strong, still releasing quality albums and touring behind them? How many of those bands have growing fan bases that span generations? How many of those bands put their entire stage show, band and crew in a custom jet, piloted by their lead singer, and go places like Dubai and Eastern Europe and Australia and South America and play to huge crowds? Only Maiden, my friends.
I’m getting carried away and this is a huge post already, and I haven’t even said everything. I’m going to wrap it up with a few of Paul’s pictures from the show that I would like to point a couple things out on. You can see all of them here.
Steve Harris has been playing this bass since Day 1, he just repaints it. He has inspired as many bass players as anyone. His daughter’s band opened the show. She wasn’t so good. I did like listening to her lovely English accent when she talked between songs, though.
This picture shows the smoke and a glimpse of the explosions, lights and fireworks that builds out of the middle section of the epic song, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” based on the Coleridge poem of the same name, from the Powerslave album. This section, from about the 7’30 mark until about the 10′ mark is one of the greatest musical passages of the last 30 years, in my opinion. Epic, and the energy that just coils and then EXPLODES as the band kicks in literally brings tears to my eyes at times. I was screaming like a banshee during this song. The backdrop depicts a decrepit ship, and during the slow section you could hear it creaking and groaning. Awesome.
“Tell my why I have to be a powerslave, I don’t want to die, I’m a god, why can’t I live on!” sings Bruce Dickinson, renaissance man and lead singer, in mask in the upper left. As Paul mentions on his review, Bruce’s slight costume changes to take on different personas appropriate to the song is a big part of the live show these days, and I love it. His abilities as a frontman are matched by few:
I’ll wrap up with a couple pictures of Eddie, Maiden’s lifelong mascot. One looming over the drum kit as a mummy, and the second lurching about onstage as the cyborg version from the Somewhere in Time album. Damn, when I started writing tonight I was cranky and intending to bitch about other stuff. That can wait. Even took a break to interview a guy over the phone for an Indy piece being published next week. Looking at these pictures and reliving the night really makes me feel good. Thanks, Paul, for the pictures. Thanks, Sid, for being such a great Road Tripping for Rock companion. And thanks to Iron Maiden especially. I’m all vuhkemp . . . er, verkle . . . er, choked up. Almost.