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Saturday, March 17, 2007, 6:30 am – I am already awake much before the alarm goes off; the mission today is simple but pretty much different from the clockwork agenda. (No, this has nothing to do with the India-Bangladesh skirmish; we all expect that India will wash them out anyway…) This is something bigger… The biggest concert by one the biggest rock bands of all times, this is IRON MAIDEN rocking Bangalore! I get up, get ready and as soon as my buddy Rajesh arrives, we head down to our very own Chhatrapati Shivaji Domestic Airport to catch our flight to the City of Rock, Bangalore…

As usual, “Why not Mumbai?” is the frustrating question that we ask ourselves whenever we hear of concerts in Bangalore, and we know the standard list of answers and we know the solution too, someday maybe…?  

Saturday, March 17, 2007, 11:00 am – We land in Bangalore and head to Jatin’s place, a nice and cozy home in a quiet area called Cox Town (I had met up with my school friend Jatin over some beer where amongst other things he suggested that we put up at his place in Bangalore).

Saturday, March 17, 2007, 6:00 pm – After a much needed afternoon siesta, we head to the Palace Grounds. The guest band Parikrama (the lucky ones eh?) is performing and the crowd is gathering. The next performance is by rock vocalist Lauren Harris, the daughter of Steve Harris. The guitarist is monotonous but pretty good with what he is doing. The vocals, well… better left unsaid. It’s getting darker and the crowds are still pouring in. We park ourselves at a place near the centre of the ground to the left of the sound console. The view looks good and the sound too is full.

The crowd as told by the press next day was around 45000!!!! 

Saturday, March 17, 2007, 8:05 pm – Its dark, the lights come on, the Palace Ground is packed. The fans are ready for what they came here for… IRON MAIDEN is on stage and with a brief intro music followed by the intro riff of A Different World (also the opening song in the latest album A Matter Of Life & Death) the band has set fire to the stage. All of a sudden the crowd goes mad, there is a huge rush, pushes from here and there and before we know what hit us, the good view of the stage we had, is completely gone! All we can see is a sea of heads and raised hands in front of us! There is nothing that we can do about this, so we stand and we hear and we try to look at the stage. I am 5’11” and I somehow get to see the band but Rajesh and I guess another 80% of the crowd just cannot see anything except the back of the guy standing in front of them. 

The HIGHS

This was a typical Iron Maiden show pretty much similar to the DVDs we’ve seen before. Steve Harris running around the stage with his galloping bass lines following him, Bruce Dickinson jumping around while also screaming in perfect pitch, Dave Murray in a corner firing away to glory, Janick Gers bang on target with his leads, Adrian Smith with his guitar swirling antics and Nico McBrain blasting away on the drums. Bruce was on a different high and with what he mentioned between the songs, it was clear that he too did not expect such a mad fan following in India. Amongst other antics he pulled, he climbed all the way up on one of the light pillars and descended sliding down the pole like a fireman on a rescue mission. Of course the band’s core member Eddie was also present. He made his first appearance on a tank and then also walked the stage. The crowd chanting the entire song including the riffs of Fear Of The Dark was the highpoint of the show.

The Set List: 

  1. A Different World (from A Matter Of Life And Death)
  2. These Colours Don’t Run (from A Matter Of Life And Death)
  3. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (from A Matter Of Life And Death)
  4. Wrathchild (from Killers)
  5. The Trooper (from Piece Of Mind)
  6. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg (from A Matter Of Life And Death)
  7. For The Greater Good Of God (from A Matter Of Life And Death)
  8. The Number Of The Beast (from The Number Of The Beast)
  9. Fear Of The Dark (from Fear Of The Dark)
  10. Run To The Hills (The Number Of The Beast)
  11.  Iron Maiden (from Iron Maiden)
  12.  2 Minutes To Midnight (from Powerslave)
  13.  The Evil That Men Do (from 7th Son Of A 7th Son)
  14.  Hallowed Be Thy Name (from The Number Of The Beast)

  Some quotes from Bruce:

“I’ve been told that it is not just Bangalore but our fans have come from all parts of India and we also have some from Nepal” 

“Some of our fans here have waited 17 years for this, and I promise that you won’t have to wait for 17 months till we come here again” 

“There was this fan on a bike who saw our car on the road, he jumped off the bike and came down to our car and screamed that he would be right up in front centre at the show. Where is he? Aaah there he is!!! Keep rocking guys!” 

“This is the first time since 1984 in Poland we have felt the energy of the crowd. We are looking forward to coming back next year….maybe Mumbai”  

The LOWS

Apart from the live stage energy, one thing very surprising was that every song they played was note-to-note perfect as one would hear on a CD. No individual solos by any of them nor did we see any breakaway live jams at all. The only thing we heard different was a slight change in the groove of Hallowed Be Thy Name.  I am extremely upset at the event organizers for:

  1. Not anticipating this kind of a crowd
  2. They could have easily had 2 shows in India
  3. The least they could have done is set the stage a bit higher
  4. The sound was not up to the mark at all. Roger would have done a 1000 time better job than that stupid Reynolds team.

So all said and done, while I must thank Iron Maiden for making it to India, I must also mention that most of us have forcefully satisfied ourselves by claiming to have enjoyed the show just by the fact that “we were there!!!” but the feeling deep inside is that we would have really loved it if we could see the band live rather than stand and hear them live.  

Bottom Line: The question that I have yet to answer is “Was I there?”

Nostalgia

At this point I also want to share with you some of the other concerts that I have attended and the kind of “luck” that I have had… 

April 7, 1995 – The Deep Purple sound check in Andheri Sports Complex, where we are among the 50-odd people present right in front of the stage, watching them perform live and then we (members of my band Pythagoras & The Right Angles) actually ended up chatting, drinking Heineken and clicking photographs with the band post sound check. Sarosh (our guitarist) also accompanied Steve Morse to the loo! How did we do it? Wizcraft, the event company was looking for volunteers and there we were. 

August 9, 2001 – The Scorpions concert in Palace Grounds, Bangalore where we were inside the stage enclosure through out the show and the highlight was of course Mr. Matthias Jabs personally handing me his pick!!! I must also quickly mention here that as per me, this was the best rock concert that India ever saw. 

…more

Europe & Nazareth – Front Row

Robert Plant & Jimmy Page at the Channel V Awards – Front Row

Bryan Adams – Front Row

Jethro Tull – Front Row

Jeremy Spencer – VIP Enclosure

Roger Waters (Bangalore) – All Access

Roger Waters (Mumbai) – VIP Enclosure

Bon Jovi – Boring Show, but then again Front Row

Trilok Gurtu – Stage Enclosure

Zawinul Syndicate – Stage Enclosure

Shakti with John McLaughlin – All Access

Jean Luc Ponty – Front Row

Mark Knopfler – Front Row

Paul Di’Anno (Pune) – All Access & dinner with band

Joe Satriani – All Access (I Also Met Him)

All the One Tree Festivals – All Access

…and many more I don’t recall at this point of time. 

God has been kind, and more so, friends, colleagues and people have been kind too…

I Was There!!! That’s Me Alright