Bruce Dickinson

Nottingham Rock City

August 1997

Well, when I saw this gig, I had it all in my mind what to write. Remembered the set list order, even though I don't own any Bruce solo material. But certain events meant that I had to leave almost immediately. Time erased some of the song titles, and now, well, it's going to have to be from memory.

The support band's name I forget now, but what I do remember is that they seemed quite a cheesy heavy metal band, from the name, through the songs, the stage manner everything. I've been having a problem recently with people denying their past, musically speaking, and slagging metal off, but here was a reason why. It was the style of music that I never really listened to a great deal when I listened solely to metal, so it really doesn't appeal now. You know how there was the thrash and the glam scene. Well, like most people, I went with one, and wouldn't touch the other with the proverbial bargepole. These belonged in the 'other' category. Sorry. They did say that they would be supporting Iron Maiden next year though.

And so to Bruce. I was there more out of my past than anything. Brought myself up on Maiden, so curiosity dragged me along. I don't own any of Bruce's solo material, so song titles that are given, are based on what seemed to be the title, or at least the predominant hook in the song. Check the lyrics and you can probably identify the song.

Things started with Bruce supplying the voice to a hand puppet of the figure on his latest album, having a laugh and a joke, and introducing the band onstage. Cheesy in a way, but he got away with. Just backs up the idealogy, that some things only certain people can ever get away with.

They opened up with what I think was the title track of the new album. I remember hearing the words, 'accident of birth', and I think, 'welcome home', so it was the song which features those lines. Next up was something I think called Snowchildren, before Bruce introduced a song that he 'and Mr Smith wrote a while back', and 2 Minutes to Midnight rears its head. Which of course causes a near hysteria for most people. But me, maybe I was alone in always struggling a bit with the Powerslave album which it's from. Still, it was nice to hear, as it was a song I recognised. Don't ask if the rest of the band played the parts perfectly, or as well as Steve and Nicko. It sounded fine to me. Maybe they missed something, maybe they didn't. The live gig isn't really about dissecting the prescision of music, it's more about the moment.

A few more followed from the new album, one called something like 'Road to hell' or something like that, another which started slowly and built up, Darkside of Aquarius I believe it was. It all sounded ok. Traditional metal, but more in the lines of Judas Priest than Maiden as people seem to have hinted at. Struck me as strange in a way. Adrian playing this stuff, which sounded heavier than Maiden, chunkier riffs, the chug thang going on, when he supposedly left Maiden because the direction was heavier than he wanted. Not the only thing that struck me as ironic about the evening.

Still, what of Adrian, as his inclusion in the current line up is causing something of a stir. Well, not a lot has changed really. He's just like he was with Maiden, both in presence and in some respects, in look. He hasn't changed much. Oh, and Bruce announced later in the night, that the line up playing that night, was also going to be recording the next album as well.

A couple more Maiden songs were aired as well, including, surprisingly, Powerslave itself. Also there was The Prisoner, Flight of Icarus and Run to the Hills. It was nice to hear them all again, as they were my youth, but strange after Bruce having announced that he would never play Maiden songs live. It's a trade off, sure it's nice to hear them, and you should never say never, but it just makes you wonder a little bit about what is meant when bands make certain statements. Maybe it's just me getting older and even more cynical than before, as if that was possible, but it seems you have to take everything a band says, and these days everything written about a band, with a pinch of salt.

Bruce gave a mention for Roy Z. and his band, Tribe of Gypsies, the rhythm section of which was playing tonight, before telling about how he met Roy Z having written a song which the guy wanted to play on, and the rest was history. Tears of a Dragon was the song, which was duly played. And quite good it was too. Anyway, there were a couple of encores, which featured the Maiden tracks mentioned, along with Tattooed Millionaire, and as a final treat Riding with the Angels from his Samson days.

Overall, it was a night for nostalgia, from the support band, through the Maiden songs and the banter, 'Scream for me Nottingham Rock City, Scream for me Nottingham Rock City. Everything. But it was also a good night. And Bruce is still Bruce, can still sing, wear dodgy trousers, and keep a leather jacket on all night, on possibly the hottest night of the year, in a venue which good as it is for seeing bands, is a fucking hellhole when it comes to heat. Only Bruce could and would do that.