Concert Review – Tarja Turunen (Tom Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil, 10/24/2015)

Tarja’s fans never disappoint when she plays in Brazil and, this time, they said goodbye to the “Colours in the Road” tour in a night full of love, gratitude and amazing songs.

OPENING ACT: Mad Old Lady

Tarja_Saturday night, October 24, was an example on how multicultural a big city like São Paulo can be. That night, the city hosted several concerts, on small, medium and big venues, of small and big bands and there was no reason to one stay at home. One of the shows that night was of the Finnish singer Tarja Turunen, at Tom Brasil. She came back to the country a year after her last show here and, this time, with nothing less than seven dates in Brazil to end the Colours in the Road tour, that also had dates in Mexico and El Salvador and ends with concerts in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina in November.

The Brazilian band MAD OLD LADY were the opening act of the night. Formed by Eduardo Parras (vocals), Guga Bento (drums), Rafael Agostino (keyboards), Timo Kaarkoski and Tiago de Moura (guitars) and Fernando Giovanetti (bass), they were one of the bands that recently played at Motörhead’s MotörBoat (the only Brazilian act in this edition) and, back to Brazil, they were responsible for entertaining the audience that was waiting for the Finnish soprano. Mad Old Lady are a well-known band by Tarja’s fans for they also were the opening act of her previous concert in town, in 2014. The fans enjoyed an honest concert and saw on stage competent musicians playing songs of their album Power of the Warrior, and even a cover for Metallica’s Enter Sandman, sang by the bassist Fernando, the highlight of their show for many.

Band members
Eduardo Parras – vocals
Timo Kaarkoski – guitars
Tiago de Moura – guitars
Fernando Giovanetti – bass
Rafael Agostino – keyboards
Guga Bento – drums

TARJA TURUNEN

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

All the expectations of the night, of course, were kept for TARJA TURUNEN. October marked the tenth year since Tarja left Nightwish and the fans, always loving and supportive, were excited to see her once again on stage. The enthusiasm of the crowd was in high levels with the entrance of the musicians that form Tarja’s band in this tour: Guillermo De Medio (keyboards), Nicolas Polo (drums), Pit Barrett (bass), Alex Scholp and Julian Barrett (guitars). To the sound of the first tunes of The Phantom of the Opera, composed by Baron Lloyd-Webber, Tarja was the last one to come onstage and drove her fans to pure happiness while singing the famous song of the musical.

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

Smiling and talkative all the time, Tarja showed that she deserves the title of one of the greatest divas of heavy metal: between the songs, she always took a moment to thank the love and support of the fans, in English, Spanish and even in Portuguese, received many presents, like stuffed bears, dolls and love letters, and said that she considers Brazil as her fourth home. The setlist of the night was very generous and mixed songs from her three solo albums, some covers and even a new and yet unreleased song, No Bitter End, that Tarja said it will be in her upcoming album, to be released in 2016. The fans made a beautiful side show following the singer all the time clapping, screaming and singing along with her.

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

Among the covers, Tarja also revealed being an huge fan of James Bond’s movies and sang Goldfinger, theme song of the movie released in 1964. The Finnish diva also sang Slaying the Dreamer, a Nightwish song that she hasn’t sung since her departure of the band, and the night ended up with Gary Moore’s classic Over the Hills and Far Away, also famous as a cover released by her former band. There was still room in the night for a special birthday celebration to drummer Nicolas Polo, with everybody singing for him and Tarja bringing him a cake in shape of a snare drum. During this moment of the party, Tarja once again showed her gratitude to her loyal fans and said it was a pleasure and an honour to come to Brazil at the beginning and also at the end of this tour. When the show was almost over, during Until My Last Breath, one of the most known songs of her solo career, she came down the stage to salute all the fans that were on the front row.

Undoubtedly that was a memorable and very special night. Tarja is a talented singer like no other, she has a very strong presence and a charisma that few vocalists in heavy metal show in and out of the stage, as well as a legion of really dedicated and passionate fans. If it was an honour for her to play twice in Brazil with this tour, can you imagine how special it was to her fans? Certainly we all are already waiting for the return of this beautiful Finnish diva with the release of the new album, next year.

Setlist
The Phantom of the Opera
500 Letters
Ciarán’s Well
Falling Awake
I Walk Alone
Anteroom of Death
Never Enough
Dark Star
Neverlight
Until Silence
No Bitter End
Goldfinger
Deliverance
Victim of Ritual
Slaying the Dreamer
Die Alive
Until My Last Breath
Over the Hills and Far Away

Band members
Tarja Turunen – vocals
Guillermo De Medio – keyboards
Nicolas Polo – drums
Pit Barrett – bass
Alex Scholp – guitars
Julian Barrett – guitars

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Concert Review – Pop Goes Metal (Willi Willie Bar e Arqueria, São Paulo, Brazil, 12/27/2014)

When pop music goes metal, everything gets a lot better.

INTRODUCTION: Willi Willie Bar e Arqueria

pop goes metal 20141227If you’re planning on visiting São Paulo, Brazil anytime soon and need some advice on what to do and where to go to spend your nights in the city, especially if you’re a Rock N’ Roll person, an awesome option is a pub called Willi Willie Bar e Arqueria, the first Rock Bar with an archery in Brazil.

Located in a very nice neighborhood full of good hotels and restaurants, and close to one of the biggest shopping malls in Brazil, this neat and cozy two-floor pub has been providing their guests the best of rock and heavy music since 1978 with live performances from all types of bands, from purely cover/tribute bands to new indie groups with 100% fresh and original material. You can take a look at their monthly schedule by clicking HERE and decide which day is the most suitable for your music taste.

However, it’s not only the music that stands out at Willi Willie: the quality of the service, the excellent food, their variety of drinks and beers (including the already renowned Trooper Beer), the decoration full of pictures and posters of several Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal icons, and of course their archery will make you feel so welcome you’ll be back there every single night if possible. The pub also offers stand-up comedy nights on Sundays in case you’re up to this kind of entertainment. They’re closed only on Mondays and Tuesdays, but that’s not an issue as you can use those days to recover for more Willi Willie on the following nights.

POP GOES METAL

pop goes metalFounded in January 2013 in São Paulo, Brazil, Pop Goes Metal play hard and heavy versions of lots of 80’s and 90’s pop music classics at least once a month at Willi Willie. Do you want to know how Michael Jackson’s all-time classic Smooth Criminal would sound with an extra touch of heaviness? Pop Goes Metal will give you that.

The band was formed by the famous Brazilian guitarist Silas Fernandes, who during his career has already played with Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) and more recently with Brazilian Alternative/Industrial Metal band S.T.A.B., which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore. Also, if you’re a guitar player do not miss the chance to check out his official YouTube page, there are lots of interesting videos from his series named Rig On Fire.

2014-12-28 00.29.57The other members of the band are as professional and competent as Silas, making the whole experience even better: Pedro Henrique Cordeiro is the voice of the band, Carol Monteiro is the “chick that rawk” on the bass guitar, MV Silva is the man behind the keyboards, and Marcelo Camarero keeps pounding his drums like a maniac during their entire performance. By the way, Maniac by Michael Sembello (that famous song from the 1983 cult movie Flashdance) is also part of their setlist.

From all the songs played by the band, I would say my favorites are Footlose, Smooth Criminal, Rebel Yell, Maneater and Don’t You (Forget About Me), all boosted by some heavy riffs by Silas and crazy beats by Marcelo. And if you’re lucky and they have some extra time, you can even enjoy PGM playing some other classics like Rock N’ Roll by Led Zeppelin.

2014-12-28 00.29.37Unfortunately, Silas is leaving the band pretty soon due to personal reasons (he’s moving with his family to the United States), which means you have just one last chance to see him with the band this Friday, January 16, 2015, at Willi Willie. But don’t worry, after that the band will have a new guitar player and will keep playing pop classics louder and heavier than anyone else.

Setlist (not necessarily in this order)
Footlose (Kenny Loggins)
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (Backstreet Boys)
Maniac (Michael Sembello)
Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson)
Poker Face (Lady Gaga)
Shout (Tears For Fears)
Kiss from a Rose (Seal)
Rolling In The Deep (Adele)
Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)
Maneater (Hall & Oates)
You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette)
Come Undone (Duran Duran)
Don’t You (Forget About Me) (Simple Minds)
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (Elton John)
Lanterna dos Afogados (Paralamas do Sucesso)

Band members
Pedro Henrique Cordeiro – vocals
Silas Fernandes – guitars
Carol Monteiro – bass
MV Silva – keyboards
Marcelo Camarero – drums

Concert Review – Nova Rock Festival 2014 (Pannonia Fields II, Nickelsdorf, Austria, 06/14/2014)

A flawless festival at one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

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INTRODUCTION: The City of Nickelsdorf and 10 Years of Nova Rock

The town of Nickelsdorf is located in the district of Neusiedl am See in the Austrian state of Burgenland, it belonged to Hungary until 1920 (like the whole province of Burgenland) and it has a population of less than 2,000 people. Those details alone wouldn’t encourage anyone to visit this little town in the middle of nowhere in Austria, don’t you agree? However, over the past 10 years there are three very special days between the second and third weeks of June when its population increases almost 100 times and Nickelsdorf becomes the world capital of heavy music: that’s what happens when the awesome Nova Rock Festival hits the town.

It was from June 9 to June 12, 2005 when the first edition of Nova Rock brought to town names such as System of a Down, Marylin Manson, Nightwish, Audioslave and Green Day, with over 30,000 fans per day. The following year, with huge bands like Metallica, Motörhead and Guns N’ Roses, the festival received over 150,000 visitors, becoming the largest ever rock festival in Austria. Since then, names like Volbeat, The Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Rammstein, Kreator, Testament, In Flames and many other heavy music icons have helped put Nickelsdorf in the route (and in the hearts) of metalheads from all over the world during the always incredible European summer.

This year the lineup was once again more than amazing, starting on Friday, June 13 with the power of Volbeat, Slayer, Steel Panther and Sepultura; kicking fuckin’ ass on Saturday, June 14 with Epica, Trivium, Anthrax, Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden (and believe me, American actor David Hasselhoff); and topping it off with Rob Zombie, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Arch Enemy and Black Sabbath. You can take a look at the full lineup per day by clicking HERE.

As I was travelling around Austria and Eastern Europe I couldn’t attend all three days of the festival due to time and money restrictions, so this review is solely in regards to Day 2, with focus on the performances by Trivium, Anthrax, Amon Amarth and Iron Maiden. Unfortunately (or not), I couldn’t stay later to see “The Hoff” singing the hit song Du or doing whatever he was going to do there.

NOVA ROCK FESTIVAL: Where to Stay, How to Get There and Overall Organization

If you’re planning on attending Nova Rock next year for only one or two of the three days of the festival, or if you’re not a huge fan of camping sites, the two best options available are staying in the capital Vienna (about 70km from Nickelsdorf) and driving for about one hour or taking the train to the festival, or staying in the very pleasant city of Bratislava, in Slovakia, which is only 40km from Nickelsdorf (or a quick 40-minute drive). We chose to stay in Bratislava, mainly because it was our first time in Slovakia and our chance to know that amazing city, and we do not regret that at all: it’s a lot cheaper than Vienna, the food and drinks are amazing, and it is full of breathtaking views like the one of the entire city from the top of the Bratislava Castle during the sunset.

The festival itself was very well-organized, with a huge free parking lot, good camping space, lots of different options to eat, good toilets, decent prices for the merchandise available, and more important than all that, both the blue and the red stages were set up in a way you could see and listen to everything no matter where you were. There were also lots of different activities going on, keeping the fans entertained before their favorite bands hit the stages, including a huge party zone. The only issue this year was the unbearable dust that impregnated the entire festival due to the dry and sunny weather in Nickelsdorf, which was responsible for lots of people wearing bandanas to cover their faces like if they were some kind of outlaws. Anyway, it was better than a heavy storm, especially because driving back to Bratislava all covered in mud wouldn’t have been a nice experience.

TRIVIUM

IMG_1976Because I had some sightseeing to do in the morning and part of the afternoon, I was able to get to Nova Rock only at 4pm, which means I unfortunately missed Epica (and fortunately missed Ghost). However, I was there just in time for one of the best bands of the past 10 years: American Heavy Metal band Trivium started their powerful and fun concert at around 4:30pm setting the crowd on fire, especially the ones in the front row/section. The band’s sonority was better than the last time I saw them, partially thanks to drummer Mat Madiro: he seems to be an excellent replacement for Nick Augusto, helping the band sound more cohesive with him on drums.

A constant presence in previous editions of Nova Rock, the band seemed pretty happy to be back in Austria and, with heavy and technical songs such as Strife, Black, Through Blood and Dirt and Bone and Down from the Sky, Matt Heafy and his crew delivered what in my opinion was the second best show of the day, only behind Iron Maiden. Matt said numerous times the fans were kickin’ ass at Nova Rock, which is an absolute truth, leaving the doors open for more Trivium at future editions of the festivals, maybe one day as the main attraction (and they indeed deserve that opportunity).

Band members
Matt Heafy – lead vocals, guitars
Corey Beaulieu – guitars, backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto – bass guitar, backing vocals
Mat Madiro – drums

ANTHRAX

IMG_1996After a short break, American Thrash Metal icons Anthrax started their energetic show at around 6pm, showing why they have their spot in the famous “Big Four”. What an amazing performance! Mixing some old mighty classics like Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time, Indians and Antisocial with songs from their latest album from 2011, Worship Music (with highlights to the fun zombie-anthem Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t), Anthrax kept a very positive energy flowing among the fans and got the recognition they deserved from everyone in the end.

Two things should be said about their performance: first of all, in regards to the band members, Joey Belladonna proved one more time why, just like Ozzy, he’s a horrible singer but an incredible frontman. The man doesn’t stop running around the stage, cheering up the fans and making the whole experience of watching Anthrax live really awesome! And Scott Ian might not be the best guitar player in the world, but he is a true Heavy Metal hero, banging his head and delivering lots of awesome heavy riffs during all songs.

And last but not least, the tribute the whole band payed to Dio (R.I.P.) and Dimebag Darrell (R.I.P.) with the banners and the song In the End, and the other tribute to Australian masters AC/DC in the form of a beautiful cover version of T.N.T., just proved how humble all members of Anthrax are and how much they love heavy music. Anthrax were not only an excellent warm-up for Iron Maiden, but a superb lesson in Thrash Metal for everybody at Nova Rock.

Band members
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums, percussion
Frank Bello – bass guitar, backing vocals
Jonathan Donais – lead guitar 

AMON AMARTH

IMG_1997Then came one of the most anticipated attractions of the day for me, as I love most of their albums and it was the first time I was able to see them live, but sadly it was not as powerful as I was expecting: Swedish Melodic Death Metal warriors Amon Amarth had a very competent performance, playing some great tunes such as Father of the Wolf, Guardians of Asgaard and The Pursuit of Vikings, and Johan Hegg is becoming one of the top frontman in heavy music. However, probably due to the fatigue everyone was feeling after so many electrifying attractions that day, their concert sounded a bit tiring after a while.

I don’t know if most of the fans there were not that much into their Viking theme, but I saw lots of people simply static and some even yawning during the entire show. I would say that huge festivals are not the best place for a band like Amon Amarth, because let’s face it: singing about Vikings is not considered cool by a huge part of the society, so I’ll wait until they come to Toronto this fall during their own tour to better analyze them live. I’m pretty sure it will be a lot better than their performance at Nova Rock.

Band members
Johan Hegg – lead vocals
Olavi Mikkonen – guitar
Johan Söderberg – guitar
Ted Lundström – bass
Fredrik Andersson – drums 

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_2010And at around 9pm, guess what happened? My sixth “Maiden England” concert, which was also my second one in less than a week (and of course the second of this Maiden England Tour 2014), was once again totally awesome. Because it was a festival, which means you’ll find all types of people there and not only true Maidenmaniacs, I just felt the audience wasn’t as great as in Brno, but that doesn’t mean people didn’t go crazy with classics like Aces High, Run to the Hills, The Prisoner and The Trooper. Revelations was again one of the top moments in my opinion, and the energy people put into singing Fear of the Dark always reminds us why they keep it in the setlist even if lots of diehard fans want them to change it for something else.

I’m not sure if the band was running out of time or if they just wanted to end the show earlier to watch the World Cup match between England and Italy, but without any further explanation they simply removed Wrathchild from that night’s setlist. I bet it was because of the match, as Bruce was wearing a weird English white jumpsuit during Aces High and said a couple of times that we all had to get back to our tents to see England beat Italy 10-0. Well, I guess Mick Jagger is not the only jinx around.

Apart from that minor upset (I’m talking about Wrathchild, not about England losing to Italy, of course), all fans were able to witness another memorable performance from the most influential Heavy Metal band of all time, which was corroborated by everybody happily singing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life when the concert was over. Now I really hope “Maiden England” is over (after three years) and they come back with a new album, because although I’m 100% passionate about all those classics, I also love when Bruce, Steve & Co. provide us some fresh compositions. Let’s hope they deliver us something as good as The Final Frontier, and that they keep on rockin’ all over the world with their unique and marvelous tours.

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, backing vocals
Dave Murray – guitars
Adrian Smith – guitars, backing vocals
Janick Gers – guitars
Nicko McBrain – drums

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Brno Velodrom, Brno, Czech Republic, 06/08/2014)

SCREAM FOR ME, BRNO!

INTRODUCTION: The City of Brno

tour_500Finally back from my awesome trip around Eastern Europe, there couldn’t be a better way to “reignite” the moose than with a review of another flawless performance from Heavy Metal behemoths IRON MAIDEN! But before I talk about the concert itself, let me do a quick intro about the city of Brno, where Maiden played for the first time ever in their brilliant career.

With a population of almost 400,000 people, Brno is the capital of the South Moravian Region and the second largest city of the Czech Republic (Prague is the first one with 1.3 million people). This beautiful city is located about 200km from both Prague and Vienna (Austria), so it doesn’t really matter where you fly to if you don’t live in Europe and want to visit there.

And believe me, it’s definitely worth a visit: the people from Brno are very friendly and beautiful, their food is amazing, their beer is not only delicious but also very cheap, and of course, there’s a lot to do in the city such as visiting the imponent Špilberk Castle (you can have a pint of Brno’s awesome Poutník light draft beer for less than two Canadian Dollars at the pub on the top of the castle), seeing the mummies at the Capuchin Crypt and Church, or visiting the Brno Ossuary. Or maybe if you’re planning to have a very romantic dinner in the city, my suggestion is the excellent La Bouchée Restaurant. You can find some good info about the city and its hotels, attractions and events at the website Brno.me.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

IMAG2183We flew from Toronto directly to Vienna from the evening of June 7 to the morning of June 8, picked up a car at the airport, enjoyed the 2-hour drive to Brno, checked in at our hotel located only 500m from the venue (the open-air Brno Velodrom, which seemed really old and not very well-maintained from the inside), slept for about 2 hours to recover our energies, and then simply walked to the Velodrom. When we got there, Swedish Hard Rock band Ghost was already onstage, but we couldn’t care less as we’re not fans of the band nor will ever be. We really don’t get why so many people love this overrated band. Well, Ghost did exactly what we expected: despite their good instrumental, interesting lyrics and all their theatrical performance, the vocals are extremely bad and the songs sound way too boring for big venues or festivals. I wasn’t able to distinguish any of the songs from one another, so for me it sounded like a single 40-minute boring song being played all the time. Anyway, even the most diehard fans of Iron Maiden respected the band and not even a single boo was heard, which was good for the band members, but that left me wondering how cool it would have been with Anthrax instead of Ghost opening for Maiden, as it happened in previous concerts this year.

Band members
Papa Emeritus II – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists (lead guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer, rhythm guitarist)

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_1829It was around 9pm when, after the traditional intro with UFO’s Doctor Doctor and the video showing scenes of ice meltdown with the epic orchestral song Rising Mercury in the background, Steve, Bruce & Co. hit the stage with the classic Moonchild (by the way, the sound quality was excellent). I don’t need to say how great that was, right? And it doesn’t matter if it’s a huge festival like Rock Am Ring or a small city like Brno: Iron Maiden are ALWAYS on fire and ALWAYS deliver the most electrifying show one can ever imagine! “What a lovely evening!”, Bruce said in regards to the sunny and hot weather in Brno, with the temperatures above +35°C making it even hard to breathe sometimes. Nothing that cannot be solved with some cold beer, though.

Besides that, it was clear to me that the vast majority of the fans there were not from Brno, but from other parts of Czech Republic and major European cities like Prague, Vienna and Bratislava (as well as other distant parts of Europe like England and Finland), which means only true Maidenmaniacs attended the concert, enhancing the connection between band and fans even more. Moreover, as it already happened in 2012 and 2013, each and every all-time classic like Can I Play With Madness, The Trooper, Wasted Years and Run to the Hills didn’t let the energy down not even for a single second throughout the entire concert. Not even the limited English from most fans in the venue curbed their enthusiasm and their will to sing along all songs with the band. And what was that crazy dude on the fence with the British flag? He was 100% drunk, his T-shirt was all torn because of the fence (and I believe he was also bleeding because of that), but he was so happy seeing Maiden live that none of that could stop him from enjoying every song played. That was awesome.

IMG_1809In addition, the highlights of this concert (and of the whole Maiden England Tour 2014) were once again the thrilling masterpieces The Prisoner and Aces High, the undeniable perfection of the epic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and of course the three changes the band made to the setlist this year. This was my fifth “Maiden England” concert (after three in Canada in 2012 and one in Germany in 2013), and by far the best in terms of setlist: replacing Afraid to Shoot Strangers, The Clairvoyant and Running Free by Revelations, Wrathchild and Sanctuary was an awesome move that added more power to their performance, especially the wonderful Revelations, one of my favorite Maiden songs of all time. Bruce had such an outstanding performance on this song, one of the best I’ve ever seen, that it was impossible not to get emotional with its perfect lyrics. Can someone please ask the band to NEVER remove it from the setlist again?

Talking about Bruce, he was singing A LOT better than a few days before at Rock Am Ring. For instance, during the encore it sounded like the concert was just starting, and we’re talking about very difficult songs to sing like Aces High and The Evil That Men Do. Maybe he had more time to rest until the concert at Brno, or maybe he feels more excited when it’s a smaller venue and not a huge festival? The same can be said about the other band members, especially Dave Murray and Nicko McBrain, who were both in top form even after so many years on the road. They simply love what they do, and that’s why we love them so much. Just Google it and you’ll see what I’m talking about, there are many good videos shot at the concert in Brno that you can compare with their performance at Rock Am Ring.

In summary, as the band itself always says, “Iron Maiden’s gonna get ya, no matter how far”, even if it’s as far as Brno, in the amazing Czech Republic. No one knows if Maiden will return to the city in the future for more concerts, but based on this first one and on all the beauty, peace and the enthusiastic people there, Brno truly deserves to be constantly visited by our beloved Heavy Metal giants. And if they do so in the following years, I hope I can take some days off again to witness Bruce shouting out loud “SCREAM FOR ME, BRNO!” under the beautiful and clear Czech sky during one more of their superb summer tours.

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, backing vocals
Dave Murray – guitars
Adrian Smith – guitars, backing vocals
Janick Gers – guitars
Nicko McBrain – drums

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