Pacific Coliseum
Tuesday June 3rd

When Lauren Harris first took the stage, I felt that I was suddenly somehow at the wrong arena. The guitarist was a blond-mulleted Chris Holmes clone, the bassist was a spiky-haired Nikki Sixx clone, the drummer was a bleached-out Ric Flair clone (complete with shitty Paul Rodgers-esque goatee), all three of them clad in lace-up leather trousers and sleeveless leather vests. Lead singer Lauren Harris sauntered her way centre stage, looking every bit a swarthy, serpentine cross between Cher and Doro Pesch. The band rawked their way through a half-hour’s worth of lame, hookless late-80s B-grade glam-metal that made forgotten losers like Britney Fox and Danger Danger seem nostalgically cutting-edge. I exchanged embarrassed eyes with many heshers on the coliseum floor, all of us wondering what the hell was going on here, until someone informed me that Lauren’s the daughter of Iron Maiden’s bassist-bandleader Steve Harris – ahh, yes; nepotism does indeed make this tired old world spin ‘round. Well, we’ve learned from other dubious rock children (Julian Lennon, Simon Collins, Jakob Dylan, et al) that being Albert Einstein’s kid doesn’t mean you’ll ever rewrite the rules of physics. Lauren Harris captured many a pubescent leer from the horny teens close enough to see her shake her rack through her own sleeveless leather vest, but whatever. A quick scan across the packed stadium stands gauged the ratio between Iron Maiden T-shirts and Lauren Harris T-shirts, and told me all I needed to know: Iron Maiden – 1,600 and counting; Lauren Harris – 0.
Then the lights dropped and Winston Churchill’s post-Dunkirk pep talk to the beleaguered Brits rumbled through the PA, dragging forth a rousing cheer from the patiently-waiting crowd as Iron Maiden themselves burst onstage with “Aces High” as their intro. The show exploded into 220mph velocity from the first note and stayed that way for the entire set. This was not a brace of plodding old men, tiredly rolling out listless renditions of metal oldies for the graying-mullet set and their brace-toothed kids: despite their average age being 50, the ruddy blighters in Iron Maiden were here to fucking kill.
Steve Harris raced to and fro like the football hooligan he is, machine-gunning the shrieking faithful with his Fender bass and those famous galloping triplets, making the curly mullet cool once again for a young century. The thrillingly powerful triple-harmony guitar-attack of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers brought all the tunes to life and afterlife – and thanks to modern wireless-pickup technology, none of them were in any danger of tripping themselves up with their patch-cords. Nicko McBrain (the Gerard Depardieu of the heavy-metal percussion world) displayed rock-steady meter and titanic punch, as he always has and always will. And even if Rennaisance-man Bruce Dickinson has long since sheared away his Conan hairdo in order to endear himself better to his new bosses at British Airways, his stunning high-octave shriek has lost none of its sharpness.
All of the old tunes blasted out, one after another: “Number of the Beast” (complete with a goat-headed Satan rising among wreaths of hellsmoke, scanning the audience with glowing red eyes), “Run to the Hills,” “Revelations,” “The Trooper” (Dickinson running amok in red serge, waving bullet-riddled Union Jacks to and fro), the entire “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (the stage swayed left and right, simulating the rocking of a haunted ship, abandoned at sea), “Wasted Years,” “Two Minutes to Midnight,” “Moonchild,” a surprising appearance of “Fear of the Dark…” shit, what didn’t they play? Well, “Flight of Icarus” was sadly absent for this writer, but really – why bitch? Between songs, Dickinson sincerely apologized profusely for Iron Maiden’s absence in the Vancouver arenas, and vowed to not neglect us ever again. About two dozen times he commanded: “Scream for me, Vancouver!” and the adoring legions were all too happy to obligingly roar for him, over and over again. They were all too happy to be there, and we were all too happy to be there for them.
Despite three or four swirling mosh pits in the forward floor section, the capacity crowd (12,000? 15,000? Not an empty seat in the house) were all in good cheer and there for a good time. During “Can I Play With Madness,” Dickinson stopped singing in mid-verse and focused his surprisingly intimidating glare on a pair of pseudo-tough-ass girls fighting in the front rows; he missed two verses and two choruses (the Maiden wingmen dutifully singing the chorus harmonies and rocking out) until things simmered down. Maiden have always had a history of honestly caring for their fans’ welfare; this wasn’t a Slipknot concert, after all (thank Asmodeus). The heat from the pyro blasts could be felt 150’ back from the stage. No less than two versions of the band’s zombie-mascot Eddie appeared; a 20’ mummy Eddie who reared up over McBrain’s drumkit, and a 10’ Somewhere in Time cyborg Eddie who stomped out onstage, menacing the bandmembers with his laser pistols until they warded him off with their guitars. The stage set borrowed a lot of imagery from the Powerslave era and all sorts of Derek Riggs banners changed places from song to song. Maiden were hauled back onstage by the roaring pleadings of the seething masses, and they ended the night with 1980’s “Iron Maiden” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” Good Jumping Jesus!
I vowed never to cut my hair again. Up the Irons, indeed! Posted: Jun 25, 2008
In this Article Artist(s) IRON MAIDEN, Lauren Harris Resource(s): Pacific Coliseum