Caught somewhere in the crowd
Some of you may not have known about it (shame on you), but last weekend, heavy metal pioneer Iron Maiden dropped by Palace Grounds, Bangalore with the express objective of rocking the town. The crowd was wild. They shouted, they screamed, they jumped on their fellow man, who often happened to be me. And that was before the band came on stage.
I had been waiting for this for quite a long time. Maiden had come to Bangalore last year too, but I was hoodwinked out of my chance by one of my cousins. So when I heard they were coming back this year, I didn’t waste any time. I plunged right in and bought tickets as soon as they were available. An Iron Maiden concert is always exciting, but it’d be even more exciting with a lot of friends to jump up and down with. Jumping up and down with strangers… not quite the same thing.
So I started rounding up all the potential headbangers, and pretty soon, I had a roundup that included me, my brother, and three other friends, all prepared to snap their neck for the cause of intense headbangs, if so necessary. I had also asked my ever-grinning colleague, Gurpreet, to join my headbanging cavalry, what with him being a reputed rock afficionado. Surprisingly enough, Gurpreet didn’t seem too keen. I kept badgering him to make up his mind every working day, sometimes interrupting vital company presentations to pop the question. Then finally, he made up his mind.
“I’m not coming, man”
“Oh. Are you sure?”
“Yeah. You guys go and enjoy”
“Yeah, man. I don’t like Maiden”
“Yeah. I don’t like Maiden.”
He should have stopped there. The throbbing vein on my forehead and my extra wide eyes should have been hints enough. New generation metalheads may not know it, but Iron Maiden was the band that brought the heavy metal genre into popularity. They have been performing for over thirty years, and their magic still lingers. It is very difficult for a heavy metal band to get their act right, and these guys fit the glove so smugly you KNOW they designed the glove. I can’t think of any other band that has so well accentuated power, anger, or aggression. The only way they can bring in more energy into their songs is if they split nucleii. But that’s ok. Not everybody can appreciate the genre. Gurpreet’s allowed his opinion. So he doesn’t like Iron Maiden, too bad. It would have ended there, if he hadn’t decided to go on.
“Hey, those guys are just shouting, yaar”
“They are not singing. Just shouting.”
Now, different genres of music has different types of fans around it. And you get differing results if you piss off different types of music fans. You can piss off a pop music fan and chances are that he/ she will just talk to you about it… try to explain why you shouldn’t just thrash the genre, maybe walk off with his head hung low. You can thrash a blues star and his fan would just bite his lip and try to drink away the pain. You can rubbish rap music fans and they’d just abuse you with forty seven variations of the f word you never knew existed. But you do not put down a heavy metal idol in front of a fan, or you get slapped. Oh, Gurpreet got slapped alright. That was the resounding ‘THWAKKK’ you heard in the last paragraph. What? You thought all of a sudden, we were interrupted by a duck with a sore throat? No. It was a slap. It still did not wipe out his grin, though. But then again, it’s generally established that nothing short of industrial solvents can wipe off Gurpreet’s grin.
The night before Maiden’s concert, Indibloggers had organized a meet in honor of the visiting stars. Booze, snacks and Iron Maiden tracks filled the pub as Iron Maiden fans shook hands and cracked jokes. It was a great precursor to the day of the hour… Hmm… ‘the day of the hour’… that sucks as phrases go. Anyway, what I meant was… it was a good preparation for D-Day.
Somehow, all the metalheads in Bangalore co-ordinated through some unknown technology and decided to show up in black T shirts displaying the Iron Maiden logo and artwork. The lavish expanse of Palace Grounds was peppered with excited black spots waiting in anticipation. Unfortunately, I never got the memo, and subsequently showed up in formal eveningwear. Thankfully, no true rocker has cared about fashion since the lead guy from Kiss shifted to pink lipstick.
To let the audience truly appreciate the Iron Maiden legend, the organizers painstakingly arranged for a whole host of amazingly bad bands to start the program off, some of whom were specially brought all the way from UK. While not the worst performer, Lauren Harris deserves special mention. She came forth to demonstrate that having an Iron Maiden member for a dad can’t make you a good performer. Of the opening bands, nobody came close to the Indian band ‘Parikrama‘, who gave a memorable performance and pocketed a well deserved applause.
And then the guys of the hour stepped on stage (Guys of the hour… Hey, the phrase works!). Iron Maiden still packs the same punch it did decades ago, and it’s still just as potent. The lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, has a stage presence unlike anyone else. With costume changes and energetic exertions song after song, with hardly any break at all, he was all over the stage. He seriously seemed to defy the old adage “You can’t be two places at once”
They involved the crowd throughout their performance; Heck, even I jumped up and down as much as a guy of my size could jump up and down. I was thoroughly exhausted, out of breath, and my throat felt like some vein would burst any minute. And this was just after the first song. If I had half the energy of the band, I could probably start leasing power to combat blackouts.
I was still exhausted the next day in office. I called up my less fortunate friends, who had to miss the concert. I kept going on and on about what an event it was. And somehow, I even told Gurpreet it went off great…
“Hmm…Ok, good for you, I guess.”
“Oh, it was spectacular, man. I’m going to listen to Iron Maiden all week”
“Hmmmmmm…. I don’t know, man. Those guys don’t even have rhythm.”
I don’t get it. He’s just a glutton for punishment. He can’t seriously expect us to believe he didn’t see the ‘POW’ or the ‘KABAAM’ coming. But I didn’t spend any more time debating with him. My fist needed rest too. So I just put my ipod, closed my eyes, and started reliving the night before. As I reviewed my fave tracks, ‘Hallowed be thy name‘, ‘Aces High‘, ‘The Trooper‘, ‘Fear of the dark‘, and the other classics, I dare say I had the same grin that Gurpreet must have patented by now. I kept running the songs over and over till lunch time.
As I was tapping my way to the lunch room, it was clear that somehow, the topic of discussion was the concert. Another one of my colleagues who was part of the audience started talking about the show… and just as I walked in, I heard Gurpreet badmouth Iron Maiden again.
Some people never learn.