The words I'd describe the night... The temperatures rose to a sweltering 102 degrees while the moisture in the air made the humidity almost unbearable. I was wondering if we were going to make it. Water...the panacea of the gods, was a necessity. Armed with 24 oz refillable bottles of H2O, Tender Heart Bear and I strolled through the gates of Milwaukee's largest music festival, Summerfest. Slapped with Extreme Heat Warning by the National Weather Service, Summerfest provided the means necessary to find relief from the inferno: misting stations, air conditioned buses parked on the grounds and over staffed medical teams ready for emergencies.
It didn't stop us from having a good time... After we met up with good, close friends of ours, we strolled across the scorching asphalt to the Marcus Amphitheater to see Iron Maiden with special guest Alice Cooper. Surprisingly, it was a little cooler inside than I expected it to be. Thank god, for the gentle breezes off of Lake Michigan for some relief. Every little bit counts...
As the clock struck 7:30, the curtain dropped for the opening act, Alice Cooper. Six musicians burst into action, crowding the stage that was already filled by Iron Maiden's super-sized stage. On stage left was Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henrikson, both on the guitars. Filling the other side was the 27 year old blond guitarist Orianthi from Micheal Jackson's band and bassist Chuck Garric. Filling in the skins for Glen Sobel was Jonathan Mover. Where was Alice Cooper, the Master of Macabre himself? Perched high on the right stage pedestal wearing a mechanical spider arms like contraption belting out the words to "Black Widow". A vision of Dr. Oct from Spiderman came into my mind upon seeing this. The theatrics had begun...
The 64 year old rocker roamed across the stage like a confident and seasoned veteran. His conviction and charisma captured my undivided attention. The band, especially Orianthi (I originally thought that was Alice Cooper's daughter, but it ain't) rocked hard, bringing on the retro feel and bringing me back to the '70's. Well, almost... That odd feeling almost left me when we began to notice two young kids more half our age head banging and singing away to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Thinking I knew a quite a bit about Alice Cooper, these kids knew more!
At this point, I was seriously getting into the show. Although crude at times, the macabre theatrics amazed me. Some of them I guessed would happen. After all, THIS is Alice Cooper, the shock rock king. The snakes, top hats, baton twirling, fake blood, the make up, the costumes, a guillotine and what? A 20 foot Frankenstein! And yes, in Alice Cooper's image... Each had its place among his set of classics- "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Billion Dollar Babies", "I'm Eighteen", "Poison" and "Hey Stoopid". When the confetti fell on "School's Out" the show was over. I was begging for more....
The Black Widow
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Billion Dollar Babies
Feed My Frankenstein
Wicked Young Man
I Love the Dead
Wrapping the spotlight around tunes mostly culled from their 1988 release, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album, Iron Maiden mainly focused on their earlier work on this tour. Its a wonderful approach, yet it has its flaws. I'll try to explain as I go on....
Bouncing into action, Dickinson takes control of the stage and making it his domain. At the age of 53, his athletic skills are outstanding! He jumps and leaps over stage monitors. He runs around the back stage props like a demon unleashed, jacked up upon adrenaline like a Monster drink junkie. I seriously don't know were his gets his energy from. but it's unbelievable! And that was the beginning of the action...
From the opening bars of the show's first tune, "Moonchild", Steve Harris' rapid fire bass was relentless, thundering the arena into submission. The triple axe threat of the guitar trio, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and newcomer Janick Gers intertwined and weaved through the endless time progressions, laying down maps of emotions, leaving listeners in awe- especially on the show's haunting centerpiece "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". Driving a pulsating beat, connecting and combining the elements together, drummer extraordinaire Nicko McBrain lays down a solid foundation for the band to stand on... This is a force to be reckoned with!
Was this my favorite show ever? No. The Rush show I saw two years ago was much better. The seats I were in wasn't the greatest. I couldn't even get a glimpse of Nicko's drum set. Although Maiden did play many classic tunes like "Run to the Hills" and "The Number of the Beast", I would have preferred to hear "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", "Flight of Icarus" and "Hallowed be thy Name" over "Fear of the Dark" or "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" any day. For the die hard Maiden fans this would work, but me....ehh....
Can I Play With Madness?
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Number of the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Run to the Hills
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Fear of the Dark
Evil That Men Do
As for the heat, we endured....Grinned and bared it... Got relief on the shuttle bus on the way to our car. The temperature read 89 degrees.
This Saturday is Aerosmith with Cheap Trick....