Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/10/2019)

Who’s ready for another night of Iron Maiden and their ass-kicking Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 in Toronto?

INTRODUCTION: “No FTTB nor The Raven Age for you”

As I wasn’t selected for the First To The Barrier experience by the Iron Maiden Fan Club for the second night of the one and only Iron Maiden in Toronto at the always pleasant Budweiser Stage, and as a few friends invited me to a BBQ with lots of beer and metal music before the concert, let’s say that I “had to” miss the opening act THE RAVEN AGE, which in the end was more than good for me because watching their concert in full from the first row on Friday wasn’t what we can call a very entertaining experience. If you were there on the second day and saw The Raven Age, I’m pretty sure it was the exact same thing as the previous night, with the same band’s lineup, the same setlist, and the same confusing sonority. However, if you missed The Raven Age both days you can take a look at how their concert was by clicking HERE.

IRON MAIDEN

Just like what happened on Friday, 15 thousand fans from the most diverse countries such as Australia, Peru, India, Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Colombia, Sweden and so on (including WWE badass superstar and a true metalhead Erick Rowan, whose real name is Joseph Ruud) were gathered together at the Budweiser Stage at around 9pm to enjoy another round of classics by the one and only IRON MAIDEN, once again as part of their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019. Their setlist was the absolute same as Friday, of course, but because I wasn’t so close to the stage let’s say I was able to move more, to jump up and down a lot more, and to have a much more complete view of the stage, including Janick Gers who I must confess I couldn’t see much on the previous night. I was really tired from the previous day and I thought I was going to take it easy on Saturday, but you know what? As soon as Doctor Doctor started playing on the speakers, it was pure madness one more time.

As I mentioned, this time I could enjoy their full stage without having to force my neck up, right or left too much, and my neck is very thankful for that. The whole band was on fire as usual, with Dave and Adrian delivering their traditional crisp and crystal clear riffs and solos while Steve was the beast incarnate on stage. How can he do that? He doesn’t stop smashing his bass chords, singing, running around the stage and jumping up and down not even for a single second, and he’s already 63 years old! It’s absolutely impressive, reminding me why I admire and respect his work and passion for Iron Maiden so much. It’s always a pleasure to watch him play The Trooper, “galloping” his bass as if he was riding a horse into the battlefield, and his endless energy while screaming the famous “Oooh! Ooo-oooo-oooh!” together with the crowd during Fear of the Dark. After another superb and impeccable performance by Bruce, Steve & Co. was over (and this time Bruce’s flame thrower worked during Flight of Icarus), I started thinking how boring the world of music will be without Iron Maiden when they call it quits, but that’s something we don’t need to worry about at least for the next few years, as Bruce himself promised they’ll return to Toronto, most probably after the release of their upcoming studio album. I wish I could attend more concerts from their current tour, but for obvious reasons like time and money, for now I’ll have to  content with two nights in Toronto I’ll never forget. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
Revelations
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

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

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/09/2019)

How about witnessing the almighty Iron Maiden and their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 from the best spot of the Budweiser Stage in Toronto on a perfect summer day?

INTRODUCTION: First To The Barrier

Thousands of fans from all over the world, a perfect sunny day, a lot of (overpriced) beer, and another memorable performance by the unparalleled Iron Maiden at the Budweiser Stage to shake the foundations of our beloved city of Toronto. That would have already been a damn good summary of the night if I hadn’t been one of the 40 lucky bastards (plus one guest each) from the Iron Maiden Fan Club who were chosen to get into the venue before the rest of the crowd and bag the best spot at the barrier, which is obviously right at the front. That’s what’s called the FIRST TO THE BARRIER (or FTTB if you’re a fan of acronyms) experience, a fun but quite exhausting adventure as you have to be there at the venue several hours before the concert starts, most of the time without food or anything to drink, and if you move or try to go to the washroom you simply lose your spot and all that effort will be in vain.

Fortunately, I can say I’m good at standing for hours waiting for a concert to start without eating or drinking anything, and all I can say is that the whole experience was more than amazing. What an unforgettable night in another celebration of classic Heavy Metal, where all fans had the chance to not only sing and scream lots of classic together with the band, but a night where we were also able to make new friends, uniting our metal universe even more. Even if you’re not part of the Iron Maiden Fan Club, you can try to be someone’s guest by asking people on Facebook’s FTTB Public Group if they have a spare available when the band takes your city by storm. That’s totally worth it, and that’s how I met a very nice Maidenmaniac who drove hours from Montreal wearing his Aces High pilot hat to join me a couple of feet from the stage from around 5pm until the end of the show.

OPENING ACT: THE RAVEN AGE

Let’s say the only part of the day that wasn’t exactly fun was having to endure British Melodic Groove Metal act THE RAVEN AGE’s performance in full from the first row without having the option to simply ignore them and go grab a beer. Formed in 2009, this London, England-based band has just released a new album named Conspiracy, featuring new vocalist Matt James, who joined the band in 2018. I’m not going to say it was a bad concert, but I think due to the fact those boys are still trying to find their core essence, playing a confused mix of Power, Thrash, Death and Heavy Metal with Hard Rock and even Southern Rock, it was tough to follow them and to actually enjoy their concert. There were a few good moments, though, like the opening song Betrayal of the Mind and the closing tune Angel in Disgrace, especially the last one as it was the heaviest and most detailed of their setlist, but overall it wasn’t the warmup I was expecting for the main attraction of the night. And believe me, standing there for almost one hour listening to something you don’t really enjoy was not what we can call a nice experience. On a side note, both guitarists Dan Wright and George Harris (and yes, he is Steve Harris’ son) are quite talented and have a great future in heavy music. Just maybe not with The Raven Age, unless they stop trying to sound like a generic version of Trivium or Avenged Sevenfold and find their own sound in the future.

Setlist
Bloom of the Poison Seed
Betrayal of the Mind
Promised Land
Surrogate
The Day the World Stood Still
The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships
Fleur De Lis
Grave of the Fireflies
Seventh Heaven
Angel in Disgrace

Band members
Matt James – vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Matt Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Finally after a short break, when it was around 9pm, the almighty IRON MAIDEN hit the stage to stun us all with their flawless Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, obviously inspired by their successful mobile game Legacy of the Beast (don’t forget you can also follow the game’s official Facebook page for news, updates and other shenanigans). As a matter of fact, the short and sweet video showing scenes from the game and several of its versions of our beloved Eddie (most of them already available as Legacy of the Beast Figurines), while the classic instrumental tune Transylvania was playing in the background, was more than enough to warm up our senses for the metallic hurricane that was about to start, but we all needed of course to sing in unison UFO’s all-time classic Doctor Doctor and scream the spoken words from Churchill’s Speech to properly invite Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain to crush our minds with my favorite Iron Maiden song of all time, the one and only Aces High, while a giant airplane was “flying” above their heads.

That beyond epic start was followed by an avalanche of the band’s old and not-so-old classics, with Where Eagles Dare, The Clansman, The Wicker Man and Flight of Icarus being the highlights of the night for me. By the way, Bruce’s speech before The Clansman was quite fun, where he “complained” about the fact an Australian (Mel Gibson) portrayed one of the most important Scotsmen of all time, Mr. William Wallace. The song was played to perfection, of course, with all 15 thousand fans at the Budweiser Stage screaming “FREEDOM!” together with Bruce & Co. at the top of their lungs (including of course this guy here that’s writing this review). Another memorable and extremely funny moment was when Bruce’s flame thrower just stopped working in the middle of Flight of Icarus, and after blowing raspberries (yes, he did that), why not showing everything he got by beautifully and powerfully screaming “FLY AS HIGH AS THE SUN” to end the song in great fashion? We might not have had Bruce’s flames in our faces, but we got something even better than that, his unique, trademark high-pitched scream piercing our ears and minds.

It was also amazing to witness all fans singing together with the band even the longest and most obscure songs (or maybe not as classic as the others) of their setlist, those being For the Greater Good of God and Sign of the Cross, proving once again not only Iron Maiden’s newest creations are still meaningful and appreciated, but also that it doesn’t really matter how long their songs are, they are never ever tiresome or boring. And what to say about the poetry found in the lyrics for the gorgeous Revelations? I’ll never get tired of witnessing Bruce declaiming those dark and touching lyrics live, no doubt about that. Well, after almost two hours of perfection, with an encore that brought to our avid ears the insanely awesome The Evil That Men Do, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Run to the Hills (needless to say, all three perfectly executed), it was time to enjoy Monty Python’s inspiring hymn Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and get ready to see the boys in action once again on Saturday. Because you know, one Iron Maiden concert is never enough.

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Churchill’s Speech

Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
Revelations
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

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

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Interview – Ben Colton (Neverworld)

If you want to know more about the past, present and future of Neverworld, one of the most promising Heavy Metal bands from the UK, take a shot at this fun interview with the band’s lead singer and guitarist Ben Colton. Can you guess which songs he would save for the future of mankind? You will surely enjoy his list.

ben colton_neverworldThe Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to the readers who are getting in contact with Neverworld for the first time? What’s the origin of the band, your main objectives and your dreams? And what was the inspiration for the name Neverworld?

Ben Colton: Howdy! Certainly. I am Ben, lead guitarist and vocalist of the band Neverworld. We formed in late 2009 and the plan was always to take it as far as we possibly could. We sat down and discussed at length about the music we wanted to make and it became apparent quite quickly that we would need a suitable name. A name that would give us the scope to be the audio/visual outfit that we wanted to be. So Neverworld was born and 6 and a half years and 3 releases later here we are! Our main objectives at this point in time are to keep progressing, keep pushing the boundaries, keep playing awesome shows and to keep having lots of fun doing it!

THM: I have to admit I can’t stop listening to your brand new album, the excellent Dreamsnatcher. It’s perfect for listening at home, at the gym, on the road or anywhere else. How did the whole process to compose the album go? Was there anything you think that could have worked better in the recording period?

BC: Well thank you very much that means a lot to us and I really appreciate the feedback. The recording process this time around was actually a lot of fun. We knew what we had to do and that was better than ‘Visions Of Another World’. So every week we would go into the studio and write riffs, choruses, verses, intros etc. until we felt we had 10 songs that completely summed us up. ‘Dreamsnatcher’ is an album that defines who we are right now and for that reason it was a great relief to achieve that. We learned a lot doing our first album so we didn’t make the same mistakes. All the music was written in about 8 months and then it was a case of writing the vocal melodies and lyrics. From the writing process to the demo stage to the actual release it took 18 months which was awesome. When you’re a perfectionist, and this band has a few, you will probably always look back and say I could of done that better but there comes a point where you just have to bite the bullet and leave it to the critics mercy! So far so good!

THM: Although none of your releases are concept albums, there’s a special concept behind the band as a whole. As quoted on the review for your 2014 release Visions Of Another World, you said that “Neverworld is a place of dreams, a world we all visit in our sleep and the band explore this magical realm in their lyrics and artwork.” Having said that, what’s the link between Visions Of Another World and Dreamsnatcher? Is there any type of storyline connecting both albums, and even your debut EP Welcome To…, from 2010?

CD Cover ArtWork - Dreamsnatcher (2015)

Album Review – Neverworld / Dreamsnatcher (2016)

BC: Basically there are some links in certain songs like ‘Visions Of Another World’ and ‘Dreamsnatcher’ but we are yet to explore the Neverworld concept fully. We are writing and recording demos already and the plan is now to release an EP toward the end of this year and then a concept album. It’ll be our third full length album and that feels like the right thing to do. We’ve discussed it in the past and we all knew the day would come where we did the whole concept thing. It’s very early days yet but we are planning the story and will write accordingly to fit that. It’s likely to be pretty dark but all will become clear as to what Neverworld is and what can happen there!

THM: There are several details that make Dreamsnatcher a must-have for fans of traditional Heavy Metal. The guitars are heavier than ever, the overall production is a lot more consistent than in your previous releases, there are many interesting additional layers of intricacy added to each and every song, among other things. How do you see the evolution of your music so far, and what can we expect from Neverworld in the future?

BC: Evolve is a great word where music is concerned. It’s something you have to do to keep it fresh and interesting. We will never make the same album twice. You’ll always know it’s us but you won’t always be able to predict what’s coming! You are one of the first people to mention the added layers of the songs and I’m really pleased you noticed! That was a very conscious thing. I love the way certain bands build songs with layers. They can be very subtle and you may not notice them initially but take them out and the song can sound naked! The future of our music I guess will depend on many factors but for me I’d like us to add more progressive elements. Mainly for the reason that there really are no rules with progressive metal and I love that. I hate restrictions. Fortunately we have none really. If an idea is cool then we use it. We do exactly what we want and that is make music that we’d like to listen to!

THM: Before we talk about a couple of specific songs from Dreamsnatcher, I just wanted to quickly go back to Visions Of Another World, where you performed an amazing duet with British singer Christina Gajny in the powerful ballad Blood and Romance. Can you tell the readers more about how Christina got involved with Neverworld and how this beautiful song was recorded? And why are there no guest musicians in the new album?

BC: Christina was just meant to be for us. I woke up one day and just thought it would be cool to do a duet with a female vocalist. So I hit the net to seek one out. She was the first one I looked at and the last. I listened to her doing a cover of ‘Black Velvet’ and was blown away. She is an incredibly versatile singer with a staggering grip on melody. I think Blood and Romance really helped us. Christina was in a band called Interlock just prior to doing the duet and was fairly well known in London. Because of her when we started playing London there were actually people there to see us! I did want her on ‘Dreamsnatcher’ too but in the end we decided that we had the 10 songs we needed and also it was another 10 songs we could add to our live performance. We’d been playing pretty much the same set for 2 years and we desperately wanted to be able to pick from a bigger selection so we could give our die hard fans a new experience every time we played. However we are indeed working on the follow up to Blood and Romance with Christina. It’ll probably be called ‘A Gothic Tragedy’ and will be part 2 in the vampire/mortal love saga. Writing is under way and it will be on the EP release so if you love Christina’s voice as much as we do you can get excited about that! I know I am!

THM: Now let’s get back to Dreamsnatcher, more specifically to the opening track, the epic Into the Mouth Of Madness. This is not a regular opening song for an album, being more progressive, more melodic and a lot longer than the opening songs found in most Heavy Metal albums. I would say it’s a similar situation to what Iron Maiden did in their 1995 album The X Factor, when they had the 11-minute masterpiece Sign of the Cross kicking off the album. Why did you choose this specific song to be the first of the album? Aren’t you afraid it might be too complex or maybe too lengthy for the average listener who’s just getting to know the music by Neverworld?

BC: Into The Mouth Of Madness was actually the first track we wrote when we went back into the studio again. I think it was what set the bar for the whole album really and also sums Neverworld up in 9 minutes or thereabouts! It’s kinda got everything. The intro, the prog, the metal, the big chorus, the epic solo section, light and shade etc. It seemed the obvious choice to us to kick things off for ‘Dreamsnatcher’. If you don’t ‘get’ that track then I don’t think we are for you! So no I wasn’t worried about it putting anyone off because anyone who doesn’t like it probably won’t like the rest of the album either! From a personal point of view a lot of my favourite songs are long, epics. ‘Still Remains’ for example by Fates Warning is my all time favourite song. It has everything! I think every album we do will end up having a few epics on.  It’s becoming a bit of a habit for us! A cool habit though I think!

THM: My favorite song in Dreamsnatcher is by far the high-octane Under The Asylum. As mentioned in the review of the album, this song has the perfect balance between aggressiveness and harmony, being highly recommended for any type of metalhead from anywhere in the world. What inspired you to write this song, and can you provide us some details on the story being told through its lyrics?

neverworld_logoBC: Thank you! I’m glad you dig! It’s a lot of fun to play live too. The inspiration for the song comes from a couple of things. I grew up near a mental asylum. Near it. Not in it! It was a Victorian era one and only shut down in 1998. Going round the place when it was derelict was an eye opening experience to say the least. That place was dark. It had its own atmosphere and was the size of a village. It just oozed sorrow and woe. I’d always felt it was a great theme for a song anyway but then American Horror Story season 2 came out and that kicked the idea off again. So really the song is about the underground workings of an asylum and all the nasty shit you don’t see happening. Very Neverworld!

THM: What are your biggest influences in music? Do you only listen to Heavy Metal, or do you also drink from the fountain of Jazz, Blues, Pop or any other type of music? And if you had to select five albums that define who Neverworld are today, which ones would you choose?

BC: Haha well I certainly don’t drink from Jazz fountain but I listen to all sorts really. Obviously being a guitar player and a singer it’s either guitar or vocal based but of course I prefer it when it’s both! Heavy Metal was my first love as a child and that just captured my imagination. In later years you learn to appreciate different things. I love classic rock as in Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, Boston, The Eagles etc. I love prog, hair metal, Thrash, Motown, even Grunge era stuff too (although I don’t call Mother Love Bone, Candlebox, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam or Alice In Chains ‘Grunge’). I just like good music. Well played, well sung, well written. I don’t have any rules anymore. I just like what I like. Ok picking just 5 albums is a really hard thing to do but because it’s what influences my own part of the Neverworld sound it’s a bit easier. As much as I love Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Manowar I find that I am no longer influenced by them. It’s strange but I lean towards more progressive stuff now just because there are so many more elements going on to keep your mind occupied. Ok here goes!…

1. Fates Warning ‘Disconnected’ – Brilliant album by the criminally underrated Fates. This album is the soundtrack to my life. Love it!

2. King Diamond ‘Conspiracy’ – King seems to have got bigger and bigger over the years and that pleases me a lot. The guy is an evil genius and Andy LaRouque is one of my favourite guitar players. It’s not until you sit there trying to work out King’s music you realize how complex it is, how clever it is. Love this album. A huge influence on me.

3. Crimson Glory ‘Transcendence’ – This album is just timeless. A masterpiece by a band who should have been playing arenas. Very classy, very intelligent music!

4. Winger ‘Pull’ – I imagine a few people will shake their heads at this choice but Winger are an amazing collective of breath taking musicians. Kip Winger is one of the most intelligent song writers out there. When you really listen to a Winger song and analyze it you can hear all the magic that has gone into making it. I chose ‘Pull’ for the groove aspect. Some of the riffs on this album are jaw droppers! Also Kip is one of my favourite singers and Reb Beach is one of my favourite guitar players. Another big influence for sure.

5. Queensrÿche ‘Rage For Order’ – Geoff Tate has a pretty bad rep these days. Personally I couldn’t care less what people think of him as a person, he’s a God of a singer. Just watch ‘Live Evolution’ to see his prowess in all its glory. I adore this album. The songs are great, the vocals are soulful, theatrical, grand, unusual. A perfect album!

So there are my 5. Just want to give a quick shout out to Lost Horizon, Circus Maximus, Redemption, Megadeth and Magnitude 9 too. They are all big influences on my part of the Neverworld sound too!

THM: If you were given the task of saving only between 10 and 20 songs from any music genre, band or artist for the future of mankind, which ones would make it to that special playlist? Let’s imagine you would add those to a capsule that would be preserved for a very long time and opened only in a distant future, and those would be the only songs left on earth, just for you to have an idea of how important your mission would be.

BC: Haha that is a very important mission indeed! Ok all these songs mean something to me. They all helped me. They changed my life and the way I think about music. Here goes…

1. Fates Warning ‘Still Remains’
2. Candlebox ‘Far Behind’
3. Mother Love Bone ‘Chloe Dancer/ Crown Of Thorns’
4. Circus Maximus ‘The Last Goodbye’
5. Redemption ‘Black and White World’
6. Queensrÿche ‘Walk In The Shadows’
7. Iron Maiden ‘Where Eagles Dare’
8. Judas Priest ‘Victim Of Changes’
9. Manowar ‘Bridge Of Death’
10. Winger ‘Rainbow In The Rose’
11. Guns N’ Roses ‘Civil War’
12. Lost Horizon ‘Lost In The Depths Of Me’
13. Crimson Glory ‘Lonely’
14. King Diamond ‘Sleepless Nights’
15. Thin Lizzy ‘Wild One’
16. Temple Of The Dog ‘Say Hello To Heaven’
17. Van Halen ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’
18. Blue Oyster Cult ‘Astronomy’
19. Boston ‘Something About You’
20. Dan Reed Network ‘Stronger Than Steel’

A pretty eclectic mix there!

Front Cover

Album Review – Neverworld / Visions Of Another World (2014)

THM: Talking about what any musician loves the most, which is playing to a live audience, what are your current and future tour plans for the UK and/or any other countries? How difficult it is for you to schedule tour dates and to be on the road for long periods of time? And what has been the band’s most memorable concert to date?

BC: It is difficult to tour for long periods due to all of us having work and family commitments. However we are planning on doing a week long tour this year with scattered dates surrounding it. Playing live is very important to us. It’s a hard feeling to beat when you’re up there and the crowd are with you. We are always looking for dates in the UK and abroad so keep an eye out for us in the near future. I have several fond gig memories with Neverworld. Our home town club shows are always special. Very well attended and there’s always a great buzz but the 3 that really stand out for me are when we played with Freedom Call at the Barfly in Camden on the night we released our debut. The place was absolutely packed! We opened and went down a storm. That was awesome. The next is again in Camden but this time at The Underworld. Purely because it was The Underworld. What an honour to play that hallowed stage. I’ve seen most of my favourite bands there so it was great to be able to tick it off the list. Lastly when we played Larissa in Greece. We left this weird building in the middle of nowhere to get something to eat thinking well this is going to be shit! When we came back the place was full! Couldn’t believe it! That was a great night playing with our friends Wardrum and completed an absolutely awesome experience. We’ve actually been pretty blessed with live shows over the last 4 years. We’ve played with some fantastic bands too. Long may that continue!

THM: Thank you very much for your time, I truly appreciate that.  Please feel free to send a final message to all our readers and all metalheads not only in Canada, but everywhere else in the world.

BC: No, thank you! It’s been an honour. I just want to say a huge thank you to all the good people out there supporting us. If I could put into words how much we appreciate it I would! The Neverworld family is growing all the time and that my friends is awesome! I really hope you all enjoy the new album! Peace and good will to you all \m/

Links
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