Middle age is what happens to you when you wait 32 years to see your favorite heavy metal band. I bought Iron Maiden’s first record a life time ago yet somehow never got around to seeing them in concert -- until this weekend. As luck would have it, I landed a precious ticket to their Friday night show at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The time was now. The destination was Irvine. No more excuses: I was finally going to see my metal gods in the flesh.
I was fine with the arduous drive south, slogging through traffic on the 5 for what I hoped would be a huge payoff. The parking lot was filled with fans clad in the heavy metal uniform of black jeans and vintage tour T-shirts. Random chants of “Maiden, Maiden, Maiden” broke out as revelers drained their Bud Lights, and I strode purposely to the front gate. The final notes from opening band Coheed and Cambria echoed into the nearby hills as I took my seat. The wait was finally over.
The stage lights dimmed, the cheering of the crowd hit a crescendo, and the first blistering notes poured forth into the hot Southern California night. I was instantly transported back to my inner teenager. Head-banging commenced, devil horns were thrown, and as I lost myself in the long anticipated moment, I couldn't help but wonder, “Am I too old for this?”
A quick peek at my loyal Iron Maiden neighbors sharing the same indulgence, and all was forgiven. Lead singer Bruce Dickinson reached every inconceivable high note he ever hit on record, running a virtual marathon back and forth across the stage, endlessly beckoning the crowd, “Scream for me, Irvine!,” to which we joyfully obliged.
The band filled the set with my favorite songs, and judging by the massive sing-along for each tune, the other 12,000 atendees felt the same way. Song after song unfolded with intricate riffs played at eardrum-breaking volume, triple lead guitar solos, earth shaking bass guitar, and drums. Not to mention the 14-foot walking skeleton dressed as General Custer; he looked like Satan incarnate. Did I forget the giant flame throwers? Pure metal bliss. As the show rumbled along, I saw middle aged rockers all around me hoisting their sons onto their shoulders, passing the torch to the next generation of metalheads. After a three-song encore, the sweat drenched band (and the even sweatier audience) called it a night.
Note to self: Don’t wait another 32 years to see Iron Maiden again.