Iron Maiden Live Show Review (Deer Creek Music Center (a.k.a. Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center), Noblesville, Indiana, 08/24/19)

In case I haven’t made it clear enough on these pages, Iron Maiden is my favorite band. I saw them live for the first time in St. Louis (well, Maryland Heights, but close enough), on the Maiden England 2013 tour, and it was one of the greatest nights of my life. I cried, I screamed, I cried, I laughed, I cried, I met some very cool people (and one total dud), and I cried some more.

In 2017, Mrs. Stay Heavy and I made the trek back to St. Louis see them again, this time on The Book of Souls World Tour. It was also a badass show, but being that it was a tour for a new (at the time) album, I enjoyed it a bit less, mostly because I hadn’t taken the proper time to familiarize myself with the new songs.

Tangent: I do not dislike The Book of Souls (I do not dislike any Iron Maiden album as a whole), but like most 21st century Maiden, it suffers from a lack of editing, and from a tendency to repeat the name of the song a thousand times during the chorus. The seeds of the latter issue could arguably be traced back to my Second Favorite Iron Maiden Album, 1986’s Somewhere in Time. Lots of the hype surrounding TBoS focused on the fact that it was the band’s first double album ever, and on the fact that album closer “Empire of the Clouds” was the band’s longest song ever. Long runtimes do not automatically make an album less good, but they also do not inherently make an album better. Anyhoo…

That was also a great show, and even 100+ degree temperatures couldn’t keep us from enjoying ourselves. It contained some notable highlights, such as “Powerslave”, “Wrathchild”, and “Blood Brothers”, and I still got plenty choked up, especially during “Wasted Years”.

Time continued its ceaseless march toward humanity’s much-deserved end, and I continued loving Iron Maiden and counting the days until my next Iron Maiden Live Show Experience, knowing that it would likely be another tour built on classic songs, given the band’s touring history these past 20 or so years. When the Legacy of the Beast tour was announced in November 2017, I started to get hyped. When US tour dates were announced a year later, I almost lost my gotdamn mind: they were playing Indianapolis (well, Noblesville, but close enough)! I was finally gonna get to see Maiden without having to drive 4 hours! (The last time they played Indiana, I’d just started a new job and couldn’t get the day off, and all the times before that, I was either terrible with money and couldn’t afford it, or I wasn’t old enough to be able to afford it.)

I bought tickets the day they went on sale, the missus booked us a hotel room (with shuttle service to and from the venue), and I continued loving Iron Maiden and counting the days until my next Iron Maiden Live Show Experience while time continued its ceaseless march toward humanity’s much-deserved end. Finally, after an especially exhausting month-and-a-half at my job, the day was upon us, and this past Saturday, Iron Fucking Maiden delivered the motherfucking goods.

I honestly didn’t think I could enjoy their live show more than I did that first one back in 2013, but I’m here to tell you, friends, that I was very, very wrong. I’ve been reading about this tour, and about the shows, since the first one, in Estonia, on May 26, 2018, so I knew what to expect; I knew the setlist front to back and back again, and I knew about all the props and Bruce’s costume changes, and I still had my mind blown clean apart. It was like watching a movie (or more properly, I suppose, a theater performance) while my favorite band provided the soundtrack.

My only beef with the setlist going into the show was that they’re still not playing any songs from 1990’s obscenely underrated No Prayer for the Dying (at this point I’m just gonna have to resign myself to the fact that I’ll never get to hear “Tailgunner” live in person), and that they included “For the Greater Good of God” from 2005’s A Matter of Life and Death instead of, for example, “Tailgunner”, or maybe “Man on the Edge”, or even something from 2003’s Dance of Death, which is my personal favorite “post-reunion” Maiden album, but ultimately, “For the Greater Good of God” is still a Very Good Song, so I wasn’t about to let one little hitch get in the way of my enjoyment of the otherwise rock solid setlist.

I bought a shirt immediately after entering the venue, then we hung around and did some talking and people-watching while The Raven Age played. They were fine, but I did not/do not care about them.

Here’s my shirt. I don’t know why the back showed up first, but whatever.

Here’s the front. I spent too much money on it, but I don’t give a single fuck, and I’d do it again.

The show started out with a spectacle that most bands would save for their closing number, but when you bring in the kind of money that Iron Maiden does, you can afford to make every song a closing number if you want. A replica Spitfire WWII-era plane “flew” above the stage during “Aces High”, and it was amazing, but then they followed up with “Where Eagles Dare”, and the transition was flawless, and I almost died of Iron Maiden, and then they played “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “The (motherfucking) Clansman” (Bruce: “This song is called ‘The Clansman’. When you put it on social media, make sure you get the spelling right.”), the Blaze Bayley-era song about William Wallace, and if you think it wasn’t absolutely fucking amazing and liberating to scream “FREEDOM!” along with some 24,000 like-minded Maiden fans, you’d be even wronger than I was when I thought I couldn’t enjoy their live show more than I did that first one back in 2013.

*breathe*

“The Trooper” followed, and it remains the Perfect Heavy Metal Song (in case you were wondering), then they played an absolutely crushing rendition of “Revelations” (if you’re keeping score at home, that’s already three songs from 1983’s Piece of Mind, which happens to be my Favorite Iron Maiden Album), and then they started into “For the Greater Good of God”, and I was suddenly glad they were playing it instead of, for example, “Tailgunner”, or maybe “Man on the Edge”, or even something from 2003’s Dance of Death, because I had to rock a piss like I’d never peed before, and while I walked to the restroom amongst the throngs of fellow middle-aged dudes who were leaving their seats for the first time since the first notes of “Transylvania” played over the PA, it occurred to me that the band knew what they were doing when they included that song in the setlist: old dudes need to pee, and they don’t wanna miss out on “Revelations” while they do it.

I got back to my seat approximately 30 seconds before “The Wicker Man” started, and it was just excellent, and then they played “Sign of the Cross”, and it was fucking epic, and THEN THEY PLAYED FUCKING “FLIGHT OF ICARUS” AND BRUCE SHOT FLAMES INTO THE AIR AND THE OVERSIZED ICARUS ABOVE THE STAGE COLLAPSED INTO ASH AT THE END OF THE SONG, and then “Fear of the Dark” started, and the crowd sang along with every note just like they do in South America (though nowhere near as loud), and then they played “The Number of the Beast”, and then “Iron Maiden”, and then they left the stage, but obviously they weren’t finished yet, because I still had some voice left for shouting and some tears left for crying, so they came out for an encore of “The Evil That Men Do” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Run to the Hills”, and to steal a phrase from Pantera, it was goddamn electric.

One thing of note: this dude sitting in front of us asked us before the show started if we were sitters or standers, and went on to say that he was in attendance at the Pittsburgh show on 8/17 was yelled at several times to sit down. We then found out that he was, in fact, attending his 5th show of the tour, with one more to go before returning home to Atlanta!(!) Iron Maiden fans are insane, and Justin from Atlanta is one of the good ones. When the show was over, he turned to me and said “how is Indianapolis the best?” I replied “I don’t know, it’s often the worst”, and I wasn’t wrong about that, but no bullshit, that crowd was absolutely figuratively on fire.

I’ve been to hundreds and hundreds of shows in all kinds of venues over the past 26 years or so, and this was certainly one of the two or three best shows I’ve ever attended, and hands down the most exciting. Music is my religion, live music is my church, and I absolutely saw the face of god on the night of August 24, 2019.

Thanks for reading, friends. Stay heavy, and Up the motherfucking Irons.

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Mixtape Monday (Friday Edition), Volume 10: Sadness Will Prevail

I haven’t done one of these mixtapes in a while, but I find myself with time to write and unable to think of much to say. One of my best friends left town yesterday to move 1,000 miles away, and I’m fuckin sad about it. I spent a while pretending it wasn’t really happening, then as time marched forward in its unceasing way, I tried to not think about it. At his going away party last Saturday, I may or may not have broken down and cried in front of everyone (I did) (although alcohol may have played a role in said possible breakdown), and since I last saw him Wednesday night, I’ve just been in a weird funk, and I thought maybe putting together a sadness-themed mix might help me move past it.

i-had-friends-on-that-death-star

Part of the sadness is undoubtedly due the fact that he’s one of like 4 friends who lives around here who doesn’t have any kids, and please do not misunderstand – I love my friends with kids (and those kids) dearly, but with Mrs. Stay Heavy and myself being in our mid-to-late 30’s, childless friends are becoming more rare these days than a PhD at a Five Finger Death Punch concert, and sometimes we wanna hang out with no kids around, y’know?

Aside from his lack of dependents, though, he’s just an all around awesome guy. Like me, he grew up watching the Golden Era of professional wrestling. Like me, he’s a fan of horror and science-fiction, and a music aficionado (although his tastes do not lean as heavy as mine), plus he’s the only person I’ve ever known who always gets it when I quote The Simpsons.

My selfish sadness aside, I understand why he moved, and it’s not like I’m never gonna see him again. I know I’ll get over it, and if I don’t, then it’s my problem, isn’t it? Either way, let’s move on to the substance of this post, then shall we?

These are in no particular order, and the title of this mix is taken from an album by Today is the Day. I included a song of theirs here, but nothing from that album, because I’m not familiar enough with it. Also, I wanted to include something from Louisiana sludge kings Acid Bath, but everything of theirs that gets put up on YouTube gets taken down almost immediately. You should check them out on your own time, though. You can just pick a song, and it’s pretty much guaranteed make you sad, creep you out, or, in many cases, both.

Anyway, this is for you, Sal, even though you’d probably only like maybe two of these songs.

Life of Agony – “Let’s Pretend” (from Ugly – 1995) – I have plans to write about Life of Agony at length, hopefully sooner than later, so I don’t want to say too much here, but sweet merciful crap, is this song ever sad.

“But sometimes I like to pretend, that she knows me, that she holds me…
I guess I can’t, ’cause she doesn’t know who I am.”

Metallica – “Fade to Black” (from Ride the Lightning – 1985) – If you’re reading these words, I’m going to assume you’ve heard this song at least a few times before, so I’ve included the live version from the Cliff ’em All home video, which you should own.

“No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try.”

Type O Negative – “Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family)” (from Bloody Kisses – 1993) – If you’re not familiar with Type O Negative, you might be surprised to learn that they were often light-hearted and hilarious in their lyrics, with late singer/bassist Peter Steele planting his tongue so firmly in his cheek that plenty of people didn’t get the joke. However, when Type O Negative made a sad song, Type O Negative went ahead and made a sad, sad bastard of a song. RIP Mr. Steele.

“A pair of souls become undone
Where were two, now one
Divided by this wall of death, I soon will join you yet.”

My Dying Bride – “The Cry of Mankind” (from The Angel and the Dark River – 1995) – Since the late 1980’s, British indie label Peaceville Records has been putting out some extremely high-quality extreme music. Bradford, England’s miserable sonsabitches My Dying Bride, along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, were part of what was known as the “Peaceville Three”. All three bands were signed to Peaceville in the early 90’s (when metal was dead), and were pioneers in the death/doom metal genre that has since blossomed like a rotting black rose.

“I will make them all lie down
Down where hope lies dying.”

Voivod – “Morpheus” (from Infini – 2009) – I’m still working on my continuation of the Voivod saga, the first three parts of which can be viewed here, here, and here, so I don’t want to discuss this album much, but I will say that the lyrics were inspired by late guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour’s death from cancer. RIP Piggy.

“The thing inside me, won’t let me be
This nightmare is real, let me out of me.”

Iron Maiden – “When the Wild Wind Blows” (from The Final Frontier – 2010) – This is the last song on what is currently Iron Maiden’s most recent studio album (The Book of Souls is out in less than one month!), and it’s my favorite song on that album by a pretty wide margin. The song is inspired by a 1982 graphic novel called When the Wind Blows, and by a 1986 animated film of the same name, however, the song has a different ending than the book and movie. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried the first time I listened to this song, and, in fact, I have cried many times since while listening to it, most recently when I watched the video below, which uses scenes from the movie.

“Have you heard what they said on the news today?
Have you heard what is coming to us all?
That the world as we know it will be coming to an end
Have you heard, have you heard?”

Candlemass – “Solitude” (from Epicus Doomicus Metallicus – 1986) – I only know like three songs from Swedish doom merchants Candlemass, but all three of them rule. I should listen to more of them, and you should, too.

“I long for my time to come
death means just life
Please let me die in solitude.”

Testament – “Cold Embrace” (from Dark Roots of Earth – 2012) – I don’t really have anything new to add, re: Testament, as it’s all pretty well documented. Just look around. See?

“The sun will never shine on you
Daylight blinds your way…
Now accept this cold embrace.”

Vallenfyre – “Seeds” (from A Fragile King – 2011) – Vallenfyre began as a side project formed by Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh to write out the pain he was feeling after the death of his father. Hamish Glencross, formerly of My Dying Bride, plays guitar in the band as well, so the misery pedigree is not to be fucked with.

“I face an eternal winter
Without you I will cease
You were my idol
I am your priest.”

Suicidal Tendencies – “Nobody Hears” (from The Art of Rebellion – 1992) – This song instantly transports me back in time, to the days when metal was dead, and Suicidal Tendencies, Pantera (“Walk”), and Sacred Reich (“Crawling”) all had songs in rotation on the “alternative rock” station out of Indianapolis, all receiving regular airplay alongside the likes of HelmetWhite Zombie, and others. This song is a bit of a rarity in the ST catalog, in that it does not have a positive resolution at the end. It just starts and ends as a bummer. It still kicks a ton of ass, though.

“So what do I have to do
To make you comfort me
Now I’m sitting here screaming inside myself
Don’t understand why nobody hears.”

Thergothon – “Crying Blood + Crimson Snow” (from Stream From the Heavens – 1994) – To be perfectly honest, I know very little about Thergothon, except that they were a Finnish band, and are considered one of the first bands to play the style that has since come to be known as “funeral doom”, which means they obviously fit this theme.

“Oh, the everlasting winter of my soul
Ice burns my skin, I writhe in cold and grief.”

Anthrax – “A.D.I./The Horror of It All” (from Among the Living – 1987) – As a kid, I used to try and figure out what “A.D.I.” stood for, thinking it must be something deep and profound, only to find out a few years ago that it was short for “Arabian Douche(bag) Intro”. Depending on the source, it was either a way to poke fun at the then-common practice of Bay Area Thrash bands including an acoustic intro to big, bludgeoning tracks, or a way to poke fun at then-lead guitarist Dan Spitz, who was always tooling around with it before it was included as the intro to “The Horror of It All”, which is a song about the death of a loved one.

“You’re not supposed to question, but why’s there so much pain
When someone’s taken from you?
What can you do or say?”

Today is the Day – “Death Curse” (from Pain is a Warning – 2011) – Aside from one song on a Relapse Records sampler (I can’t remember which song, but I think it was “In the Eyes of God”), Pain is a Warning was my introduction to Today is the Day. I bought it at the now-defunct Ear-X-Tacy Records in Louisville, KY, along with Hater by Total Fucking Destruction and the vinyl reissue of D.R.I.‘s Crossover, and at the time, I was working a job that was slowly destroying my soul. Pain is a Warning played a pretty significant role in my survival of that year. I adore it from beginning to end.

“It’s a lie
It’s a lie
Work until you die
It’s my life
Liars!
Liars!
Work and then you die
Death curse!”

Deftones – “Teenager” (from White Pony – 2000) – Here’s a nice mellow way to wind things down. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about the Deftones; I think they kick some serious ass, and I sincerely believe that they get unfairly maligned due to their association with shitty nü-metal bands, when they are, in fact, head and shoulders above nearly all their late-90’s/early 2000’s peers. I admittedly haven’t heard much of their work past their 2003 self-titled album, but I’ve yet to hear a Deftones song that I don’t enjoy. They really do  the whole quiet/loud dynamic thing exceptionally well, and this song is just heartbreaking.

“I drove you home
Then you moved away
New cavity moved into
My heart today.”

That’s all I got for today, heavy people. For the record, it did help alleviate my sadness a bit. Time will tell how long that lasts. Until next time, stay heavy, always.

Am I Right Or Wrong, Or Just Confused?: Yet Another Brief Update

Holy shit, it’s been far too long since I’ve sat down to update this thing. I’m finally reaching a state of normalcy re: my work schedule, so I’m committed to writing more regularly, because, if nothing else, my sanity requires it. I’m shorter on time that I thought I’d be, so for now I’ll just give an update on some upcoming heavy things that I am 100% stoked on right now, in chronological order.

1. Death Angel is releasing the long-awaited A Thrashumentary one week from today (it’s out today in Europe, lucky bastards)! The documentary DVD is accompanied by a live album The Bay Calls for Blood, which was recorded in the band’s hometown and the epicenter of 1980’s thrash metal, San Francisco, CA. I pre-ordered mine weeks ago, and I’m about to shit myself with excitement. More info here. Spoiler alert: it’s only 15 fucking dollars, plus shipping!

Get fuckin pumped, y’all!

2. Iron Maiden will be releasing their new album (and first ever studio double album), The Book of Souls, on September 4. Some of their post-1988 material has been hit-or-miss, but in my opinion, it’s been mostly hit, and if you’re any kind of regular reader of Stay Heavy, you know that I’d rather listen to the least good Iron Maiden than no Iron Maiden.

Here’s an Iron Maiden song that is not the worst:

3. MotörheadSaxon, and Crobot will be playing in Indianapolis on September 9, and there is a 98% chance that I’ll be there. Anthrax replaces Saxon in the direct support slot beginning September 12 in Detroit, and I would definitely rather see that version of the tour, but whatever; this is quite possibly the last chance I’ll get to see Motörhead live, and it’s not like I hate Saxon or anything.

4. Full Terror Assault, the first European-style open air metal festival to be held on this side of the Atlantic, will be happening at Cave-In-Rock, Illinois September 10-12. Napalm Death and Obituary are the headliners, and TerrorizerWarbeastEyehategod, and a whoooooole bunch of other kickass bands will be there. I will unfortunately be unable to attend this, but I urge everyone who can attend to do so; I want it to happen again next year. Oh, and if Cave-In-Rock sounds familiar to you, it might be due to the fact that it was the location of the Gathering of the Juggalos from 2007 until 2013. Hopefully there are no Juggalos (or Juggalettes) hiding inside the cave, or in the surrounding forest. More information about FTA can be found here.

5. D.R.I. will be playing a show in Indianapolis on September 30. I didn’t see them when they played Indy last year, and I won’t make that mistake again. This show is happening thanks to Metalhead Productions, the company responsible for bringing Death Angel to Indianapolis back in April. This will be a rager of epic proportions, friends.

6. Maryland Deathfest announced their final lineup for next year’s event, May 26-29, 2016. The announcement was made today, and I am going to try my goddamndest to go next year. I’ve wanted to make it out there every year so far, but one thing or another has prevented it every single time. But look at this lineup, y’all:

My head almost exploded three times already from looking at this.

My head almost exploded three times already from looking at this.

TestamentNuclear fucking Assault! (!), RepulsionHiraxParadise LostDischargeDoomVenom! Fucking GoblinGeneral SurgeryBuzzov-en! Holy shit, so much more!

I have to wrap this up, but keep your eyes on these pages in the coming days; I will be updating on a more regular basis, and I have so many ideas. You could “like” Stay Heavy on Facebook, or follow Stay Heavy on Twitter, or sign up for email updates down there at the bottom of this page. However you decide to keep up, make sure you stay heavy, always. Thanks for reading.

When We Go Drinking, We Shout About You: Another Brief Update

The new job is still eating away at my time, and at times, my soul. Blergh. I’m off today and tomorrow, but I’m leaving town with Mrs. Stay Heavy in a couple of hours for a wedding, and I won’t be back until tomorrow evening, and then I have to work at 6 AM Monday, so this is it as far as time goes for the next few days. My last update worked out well enough, so I figured I’d do another one like that, just in the interest of keeping up appearances. Without further ado, some songs I recall hearing since the last post (in no particular order):

I ignored the hype on Atlanta, Georgia’s Royal Thunder up until Wednesday morning, when I inexplicably woke up after 3 hours of sleep and decided on a whim to give them a listen. Suffice to say that I’ve been a damn fool, and that this song has been lodged firmly in my gray matter ever since. It evokes so many different influences and genres, yet manages to sound completely fresh and original. I’m convinced. Don’t miss out on this one.

I’ve still only heard one album from Irish thrashers Gama Bomb (2009’s Tales From the Grave In Space), but I absolutely fucking adore it. You can download it for free (and legally) here, so you have no excuses to not check it out.

San Pedro, California’s Minutemen were not a metal band, but they were sometimes heavy, and they fucking ruled, and you should listen to them. They’re perhaps best known for their song “Corona”, which was used as the opening theme from Jackass. Please don’t affiliate the band with that stupid show…they stopped being a band long before the show became a thing. Posted above is their 1981 debut album, The Punch Line, in its entirety. It’s 18 songs in 15 minutes, and it just might change your life.

Suicidal Tendencies at their best were so bloody phenomenal. The line “you wouldn’t know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eatin Froot Loops on your front porch” alone is worth the price of admission on this song (which, by the way, is $0.00 if you listen in the link above), but the rest of the song kicks major ass as well. In fact, I’ll go ahead and declare the entirety of the album (1990’s Lights…Camera…Revolution) to be utterly untouchable.

NYHC giants Sick of It All are fucking great, and arguments can be made for nearly all their albums, but for my money, 1994’s Scratch the Surface is their masterpiece. It’s the primary catalyst that got me into hardcore in the late 90’s. If you get a chance to see them live, fucking do it.

Iron Maiden’s massively underrated 1990 album No Prayer for the Dying gets positively shat upon by a large majority of fans, and by most of the band as well, but I think it’s a solid album. It’s obviously not as good as its precursor, 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, but in my opinion it’s miles ahead of its follow-up, 1992’s Fear of the Dark, in nearly every way. Fear of the Dark has three great songs (the title track, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”, and “Be Quick Or Be Dead”) and better production, but otherwise, it’s just not as good as No Prayer for the Dying. The point? “From Here to Eternity” is one of the less-than-great songs from Fear of the Dark, but it’s still better than a vast number of other songs in existence, because it’s Iron Fucking Maiden.

That’s all the time I got for today, kiddies. Stay heavy, always.

The Number of the Views

Woe to you, oh Earth and Sea: Stay Heavy reached 666 views yesterday afternoon.  It’s a silly thing, yes, but it’s also kind of awesome. I was unable to post anything when I noticed, and the number has gone up a few since then, but I wanted to commemorate the milestone with a couple of songs.

The first one is obvious.  Iron Maiden rules the entire world, and this song, almost as old as me (I was in kindergarten when it was born), is still one of my favorites.

 

The second one is maybe less obvious to most people.  I’ve written a tiny bit about Brujeria before, and I don’t have time to get into them too much right now, but they are fucking badass.  “Seis Seis Seis” originally appeared on the band’s first EP, ¡Demoniaco! (1990), which was only released on vinyl and is long out of print, but it can also be found on their 1993 full-length debut, Matando Gueros, (which is my favorite album of theirs), and the 2001 compilation Mextrimist! Greatest Hits.  Each version is actually slightly different from the others, so I’ma include all of them here.  If you like death metal, grindcore, or deathgrind (but not necessarily metalcore), and you have a sense of humor, I wholeheartedly recommend Brujeria.

From ¡Demoniaco!

 

From Matando Gueros

 

From Mextrimist! Greatest Hits

 

That’ll do, pig.

Here’s to 666 more views.  Keep on staying heavy, heavy people.

 

Stay Heavy Birthday Club: ‘Appy Birthday ‘Arry

 

 

Fifty-eight years ago today, a true metal god was born.  Stephen Percy “Steve” Harris was born on March 12, 1956 in Leytonstone, England (a suburb of London), where he had dreams of playing (non-American) football professionally.  In his early teens, Harris began to become interested in rock music, and soon his desire to play professional football was replaced by a desire to play music.  He wanted to play drums, but was unable to afford a drum kit, so he chose bass guitar instead.  Lucky us.

steveharris

Harris onstage, in a familiar pose.

Ten months after buying his first bass, Harris joined a band called Influence, which later changed its name to Gypsy’s Kiss (Cockney rhyming slang for “piss”).  After a few gigs, the band split up, and Harris joined a band called Smiler.  He left Smiler when the band found the songs he was writing too complicated to play, and formed the first version of Iron Maiden on Christmas Day 1975.

Today, Harris remains the sole original member of Iron Maiden, and has been the band’s chief composer and lyricist, in addition to directing and editing many of their live videos and music videos.  There’s not much time left in his birthday, so I recommend stopping everything right now and jamming the Iron Maiden album(s) of your choice.  You really can’t go wrong.  You should probably also take some time to watch some live footage, either on YouTube, or, if you own any, on one of the band’s numerous live DVDs or VHS tapes.

Here are a few of my favorite Steve Harris-penned Iron Maiden songs, in order of their original release.

“Phantom of the Opera” (from Live at the Rainbow – 1980) (originally appeared on Iron Maiden – 1980) – Iron Maiden was the first of two albums to feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals.  Bruce Dickinson joined the band after the tour for 1981’s Killers, and made his recording debut with the band on 1982’s Number of the Beast.

“To Tame a Land” (from Piece of Mind – 1983) – This is the last song on my personal favorite Iron Maiden album. The lyrics are based on Frank Herbert’s magnificent 1965 novel Dune, and this awesome fan-made video features footage of David Lynch’s 1984 film version of the story

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (from Live After Death – 1985) (originally appeared on Powerslave -1984) – Watch Steve’s fingers move like a hummingbird when he plays this song.  The lyrics are based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 poem of the same name.

“Caught Somewhere in Time” (from Somewhere in Time – 1986) – The band introduced synthesized guitars on this album, and brought in full-on keyboards on the follow-up, 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (which, along with a few other albums, is not featured here, because regardless of what the song says, time is not, in fact, always on my side).  Many people were angry with the addition of synthesizers.  Those people are chumps, because this shit is obviously the shit.

“Fear of the Dark” (from Flight 666 – 2009) (originally appeared on Fear of the Dark – 1992) – I featured a more recent live version of this song because this crowd is fucking amazing.  Fear of the Dark was the last album to feature Bruce Dickinson on vocals until 2000’s Brave New World.  He was replaced by Blaze Bayley for two much-maligned (but still pretty good) albums.

“The Clansman” (from Virtual IX – 1998) – This was the second and final album with Bayley on vocals.  It’s not as strong overall as the first (1995’s The X Factor), but I think this is the best Harris-penned song from either album.  It is lyrically inspired by the same stuff that inspired Braveheart.

“When the Wild Wind Blows” (from The Final Frontier – 2010) – This is the last song on the band’s most recent album.  The lyrics are amazing, and sometimes they make me cry.

That’s all for today. Happy birthday Steve Harris!

UP THE IRONS!

Stay heavy, y’all.