Bruce Dickinson

5 December 1998

Nottingham Rock City

Due to me inestimable genorsity, I'm going to afford you the chance to link metal with hardcore. No really, but all in good time my little cotton buds, all in good time.

Anyway, despite Rock City not being sold out, though Wolves last night was, Bruce is still afforded a hero's welcome by those present. And immediately sets about the task of presenting a sizeable portion of the Chemical Wedding album in one fell swoop, interspersed by narration by Bruce between songs. Indeed, as he points out at the end of this portion, it's all a bit serious, and it all hangs together, which is why we're presented with Trumpets of Jericho, King in Crimson, Chemical Wedding, Killing Floor, Book of Thel and Gates of Urizen. And it sounds great. The album is a corker, and live you realise the power of the songs, and just how close to Powerslave era Maiden some of the material is.

Bruce is more fired up these days than in a long time. Whether it's the challenge of having to play these small venues again, whether it's enthusiasm for the new material, or whether it's just the fact that he gets no coverage these days from the press that should be covering him, he's still playing like the Bruce of old, but with a few more leaps thrown in. In fact there were a few times I could've closed my eyes and been back at the Newport Centre in '88 watching Maiden play.

Of course some of the interest is also in the presence of a certain Adrian Smith to his left, who it has to say looks just as he ever was. Though a bit er, fuller now. But, in all honesty, he's still as motionless onstage as ever. That's not a criticism, just a reflection. See, a lot of people are comparing Bruce to Blaze era Maiden. And though I haven't seen Maiden on this tour, I did on the last. Sure, Bruce outshines Blaze in the charisma stakes, but the Maiden backline outshines Bruce's. One day maybe they'll all get back together and blast some of the arenas to hell and back again. And I mean all. We'll, the last few incarnations. Bruce and Blaze. Adrian and Jannick. Together, as one.

Following the Chemical Wedding material, it's a blast through some older Bruce solo stuff, includig Tears of a Dragon, which sees the use of "a plank of wood with strings attached. Not digital, doesn't need an Intel processor inside, and nothing to do with Bill Gates". Accident of Birth (heavier than anything Maiden did), which is kinda ironic given Bruce left to do "other material" and Adrian allegedly wanted to persue a lighter direction. Darkside of Aquarius shows that Bruce still hasn't lost the ability to come up with the most ludicrous of song intro's. This one deals with the oncoming millenium. In fact the set closer proves this as well. "Woe to you ...." quotes Bruce, "and this number is Powerslave". And suddenly you remember just how great this music was, and still is. The hands are pumping in the crowd, people pointing to the sky. And I thought, now where have I seen something like this. And it occured. It's the old pointy finger dance so beloved of hardcore gigs. Link number the first. Ok, so it's varied a bit there to this, but it's still the same. People singing and wanting to be heared. The music is different, the principle the same. See, there's not always that big a difference now is there?

As they depart the stage, I'm kinda thinking how much I enjoyed that. There's barely anyone of the new wallet chain brigade in tonight. Probably all hiding down in the disco 2. Laughing at how irrelevent all this is. How it means nothing. How in 10 years time, when Korn, Deftones, Manson and the Bizkit are receiving absolutely zero coverage from the magazines, how they'll stil sell these places out. Yeah right. Wake up and join reality. Maiden were bigger than Korn can even dream of back in the 80s. But times change. Support from the press dries up. Many people move on in life, get different responsibilities and desires. Yet those bands can still pull decent audiences in places like this with zero support. Will todays bands? I doubt it. I mean, Korn only have to be reported to have breathed in the States to warrant a feature in todays climate. Brucie boy is doing a virtually sold out tour (he announced at the end that the London gig is also sold out), and he warrants nothing. Yet still his songs are better, and the crowd, although they participate in a different way to crowds these days, still provides as big a response as any band nowadays in this place.

And they come back out, and someone, possibly a bouncer, is having a smoke. Which Bruce doesn't like. He tells him it's no smoking. You think it's a laugh, but Bruce gets more agitated. "I mean it. I'm trying to do my job up here and sing, and there's no smoking." Eventually water appears to be thrown at Bruce from the said culprit who departs stage left. Apparently led away by one of the other security people. After this, they nip through 2 Minutes to Midnight and Tattooed Millionaire. Road to Hell is the final solo song, during which a stage diver gets up, taps Bruce and departs. Hardcore link no 2. Bruce in stage diver shocker. Except he's not a happy bunny. "Where's the guy who thought it was cool to leap from the stage. You may think it's cool but I think you're a cunt. If I was in there next to you now, I'd want to belt you one, cos it's not cool if you're the person landed on." Ooh, he no like it. but there again, neither does Henry Rollins, a hardcore icon. So that link is ever closer. And with the thought of someone flying from the stage in mind, they play Flight of Icarus before departing for good.

I know, most of you will hate me for trying to make a link, whether you're hardcore hating metal, or metal hating hardcore. The point is this, it's the music that counts. And music crosses boundaries. Right now, Bruce is more underground and more real than half the shit that likes to pretend that that's where it comes from. These last couple of gigs, Wolves last night and tonight, have been brilliant. Some young pups, who believe Bruce is too metal to share the same show with, should watch and take notes on how to give a live gig. Cos these were excellent. Even if it dampens credibility to say it.