Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 07/15/2017)

On a pleasant summer day in the city of Toronto, over 18,000 metalheads had a beautiful time screaming, singing, jumping up and down, raising their horns and “climbing like a monkey” to the flammable music by the unparalleled Iron Maiden.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

As opposed to last year’s Iron Maiden concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, when it was freaking cold and a snow blizzard covered the city and made driving a true nightmare, this Saturday the weather couldn’t be more perfect, with a temperature close to 30 degrees in a sunny day, resulting in another memorable night for all Maidenmaniacs that attended the concert at the always amazing Budweiser Stage (which used to be called Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). You could see in the eyes of the fans that everyone was in a great mood, probably because they spent the whole day getting ready for the concert, drinking beer, enjoying a nice BBQ or simply listening to Iron Maiden while getting tanned by the nice afternoon sun. And besides, everyone would have the whole Sunday to recover before returning to work on Monday (unless you were also seeing Metallica on Sunday, but that’s a different story).

It was around 7:30pm when the opening act hit the stage, Heavy Metal blue-eyed boys GHOST, who for some reason are deeply loved by most musicians, but not as much by fans of metal music. Even Metallica’s James Hetfield himself was at the venue watching the performance by Papa Emeritus III (also known as Tobias Forge) and his nameless ghouls. Anyway, this was my second time seeing Ghost, once again opening for Iron Maiden as in 2014 in the Czech Republic, and this time was way better than the first, I must admit. Papa Emeritus III was more dynamic on stage, more communicative and less “stuck” to the pope gimmick. A considerable amount of fans that were at the venue enjoyed their performance, singing together with the band songs like Ritual, Year Zero and Absolution, and as their performance wasn’t too long I guess not even the most diehard fan of Iron Maiden got bored with Ghost.

Setlist
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
Square Hammer
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Ritual
Cirice
Year Zero
Absolution
Mummy Dust
Monstrance Clock

Band members
Papa Emeritus III (Tobias Forge) – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:

  • Fire – lead guitarist
  • Ether – rhythm guitarist
  • Water – bassist
  • Wind – keyboardist
  • Earth – drummer

IRON MAIDEN

Finally, after over one year (and another cold winter), it was time for Toronto to scream one more time for the one and only IRON MAIDEN, this time during their The Book Of Souls World Tour 2017, the second leg of their majestic tour promoting their 2015 masterpiece The Book Of Souls. The setlist was pretty much the same as last time, except for Tears of a Clown being replaced with The Great Unknown, and the saddest change of all time, Hallowed Be Thy Name being replaced with Wrathchild due to a legal dispute with retired rock band manager Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over the song. Barry claims Hallowed Be Thy Name reproduces major parts of a song titled “Lying in my Shadow”, written by musician Brian Quinn (under the name Brian Ingham), and because of that Iron Maiden couldn’t play one of their most beautiful and powerful classics during their 2017 tour.

That didn’t stop Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris & Co. to kick ass one more time on stage for the delight of over 18,000 metalheads at the Budweiser Stage, blasting as usual a well-balanced mix of old school songs and newer compositions. Fans were already pumped up during the classic “Doctor Doctor” intro, exploding into sheer ecstasy when Bruce appeared at the top of the band’s Mayan-inspired stage to ignite their “ritual” with the initial spoken words of their new classic If Eternity Should Fail. After that it was an avalanche of hits played to perfection with Bruce interacting with the crowd all the time, while Steve was unstoppable with his galloping bass and Janick seemed as if he was high on something so electric his performance was. And I guess I don’t need to say how awesome Adrian, Dave and Nicko were with their instruments, right? There was only one minor issue with Bruceç mic, which kept failing a little once in a while, but nothing that could harm such sensational concert.

In my humble opinion, the best sequence of the night started with the classic Children of the Damned, where Bruce gave his already traditional speech about most of the fans not being born when the song was written and, for the ones born in 83 or 84, they might be the true “children of the damned”, conceived when the song was written in 82 (as Bruce mentioned, your parents had sex at least once in their lives!). After such stylish composition, the band invited all of us to fly with them and “fight” the Red Baron in the high-octane Death or Glory, with Bruce and his monkey mask enticing us to “climb like a monkey”, a fun move he started last year that became sort of mandatory every time they play this song. And the stunning sequel went on with the 13-minute hymn The Red and the Black, with all fans jumping up and down and singing the “Oh-oh oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!” parts along with Bruce, followed by one of my top Maiden songs of all time, The Trooper, where guess what? It was time to burst our lungs again screaming the song’s famous “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” together with the band. And closing their killer sequel, the imposing Powerslave, which almost made me blind with its initial flames as I was quite close to the stage.

The newer songs like The Great Unknown and the epic The Book of Souls (where Eddie had his heart “ripped out” by Bruce) kept their momentum going, making everyone even more excited for their final batch of unparalleled classics such as Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (with the stage fires making us literally burn), and Wasted Years. However, it was their 2000 creation Blood Brothers that really stole the show, with all fans signing its heartening lyrics together with the band, after Bruce’s inspiring intro where he spoke about how diverse and welcoming the city of Toronto is, and how there shouldn’t be no differences among us all, as we’re all blood brothers. What a brilliant performance of such amazing tune, I have to say! One of the best I’ve seen live together with the one from Rock In Rio III in 2001. As Bruce said close to the end of the show, Iron Maiden are far from being done, and they’ll return to Toronto with more of their unmatched metal music in a not-so-distant future. Needless to say, all 18,000 fans at the concert Saturday are more than eager for that without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot and sunny day like this Saturday or if it’s in the middle of a cold winter, we all know that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
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 (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, 04/03/2016)

Not even a bitterly cold and snowy night in Toronto could stop Iron Maiden from writing another beautiful and epic chapter in The Book Of Souls.

OPENING ACT: The Raven Age

iron maiden_the book of souls world tour 2016Here we go again, another blistering cold night in Toronto when it was supposed to be already warming up, with around 15cm of snow out of nowhere just to make the beginning of this spring even weirder than the warmest winter in history. However, when you have the best Heavy Metal band in the entire world playing live in the city, who truly cares about some harmless snowflakes? My only concern was if we were going to have the same sound issues from the concert Friday night in Montreal also here in Toronto, but fortunately the sound quality at the Air Canada Centre was a billion times better than at the Bell Centre, making the whole night even more memorable.

After facing over 30 minutes out in the cold in a never-ending line where there was even an Elvis with an Eddie mask from Powerslave (would that make him the “Presleyslave” or the “Elvis High”?), I got back to the place where I belong in concerts, the floor section (and not those uncomfortable seats from Bell Centre). I might be wrong, but the floor section was quite empty for a sold out concert, even during Iron Maiden. If that’s for safety reasons, no problem, but I think they could have added at least a thousand extra tickets for that area. Anyway, my comments about the opening act, British Melodic Metal THE RAVEN AGE, are exactly the same from Friday night, which means if you read my review for Montreal you can apply each and every word to Toronto as well.

Setlist
Uprising
Promised Land
The Death March
Eye Among the Blind
The Merciful One
Salem’s Fate
Angel in Disgrace

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

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_1236While some bands look and sound the exact same every single night, there’s something about IRON MAIDEN that makes each of their live performances unique even if they do not change anything in their setlist during the entire tour, as it’s happening during the amazing The Book Of Souls World Tour 2016. We all know which songs they’re going to play, and some people even complain about the band’s predictability, but when the concert starts Bruce, Steve and Co. manage to be different, to sound different and to always offer something new to their fans. Maybe that’s the main reason why they’re who they’re today, right?

Thanks to the almighty Eddie, there were no problems with the sound! Quite the contrary, each instrument was loud and clear, especially the pounding drums by the one and only Mr. Nicko McBrain and the rumbling bass guitar by the band’s mastermind Mr. Steve Harris, who made the epic tune The Book of Souls sound more powerful than ever. By the way, what an amazing reaction the fans had to all new songs from The Book Of Souls, especially the opening song If Eternity Should Fail and what was once again the highlight of the show for me, The Red and the Back. Of course fans went crazy when they played classics such as The Trooper, Powerslave (with Bruce wearing the same “luchador” mask from the past couple of shows due to Wrestlemania weekend), Hallowed Be Thy Name (with everyone at the ACC beautifully singing it together with the band), The Number of the Beast and Wasted Years, but it’s nice to see Iron Maiden are not trapped in the past and are still releasing awesome music for our total delight.

iron maiden torontoNow let’s talk about those special details that made last night unique, and I’m not talking about the cold and the snow. We all know how intelligent and skillful Mr. Bruce Dickinson is, and that was once again proved after the band performed the heavy and fast Death or Glory. Any other musician would have ignored the fact the song has a special importance to Toronto and to Canada, but Bruce made sure he spent the necessary time to explain the song is about Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the “Red Baron”, who was shot down by Canadian air ace Captain Roy Brown in 1918, and that the seat of Red Baron’s triplane was donated by the dauntless Canadian pilot to a museum in Toronto. Bruce only forgot to mention the name of the museum, so if you’re interested in visiting it and seeing the airplane seat from the renowned Red Baron you need to go to the Royal Canadian Military Institute Museum (RCMI). As a side note, “Turns like a devil, climbs like a monkey!” (or something like that) were the Red Baron’s words about the Fokker Dr I, the most successful triplane in history. Guess where you can also find these words? And before I forget, poor Janick Gers, his guitar stopped working in the middle of the song and he had to spend about two minutes backstage trying to fix it. I’m not going to mention that most people didn’t even notice that “small” detail mainly because Dave Murray and Adrian Smith were on fire with their flawless riffs and solos, ans also because I like Janick’s performance (I think he IS important to what Iron Maiden are today), but if you also saw that you know what I’m talking about.

IMG_1225By the end of the show, while introducing the melodic Blood Brothers, Bruce spoke about the differences in terms of safety and quality of life found everywhere the band goes, comparing for example our always safe Canada to one of the most dangerous countries in the world, El Salvador, but also saying if there’s one thing that unites us all and helps us face any adversities in life is Heavy Metal, in special if you’re part of the MAIDEN FAMILY. On the train back to my small city, Oakville, an “old school” couple who also attended the concert sat in front of us and we instantly started chatting about Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica (the guy even fist pumped me full of joy when I said Metallica is the most overrated band on earth), sports, and several other topics. They even gave us a customized pair of hockey blade tapes from The Book Of Souls without even knowing us! That moment I realized how big, fun and unified the Maiden Family mentioned by Bruce is. And I’m happy to be part of it, so happy I didn’t even care I had to wipe a ton of snow from my car at the train station, at midnight, and under a frigid temperature of around -6oC. Actually, I was very relaxed while doing that, humming the “Oh-oh Oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh Oh-oh-oh!” from The Red and the Black and already thinking about when I’ll be able to watch Iron Maiden kicking some serious ass once again.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
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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Metal Chick of the Month – Daísa Munhoz

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How dare you look at me in the eye?

Time to fly back to South America, more specifically to the municipality of Bariri, São Paulo, Brazil, located about 300km from the city of São Paulo (and about 700km from the city of Rio de Janeiro), to talk about another Brazilian Heavy Metal diva, Daísa Munhoz, the beautiful and talented frontwoman of Brazilian Progressive Metal band Vandroya. If you’re simply fanatic for traditional Heavy Metal, I would say she might be the girl of your dreams.

Owner of a very powerful and melodic voice, Daísa started singing when she was only 9 years old, and at the age of fourteen she was already part of a “travelling band”. Our diva said that although she never actually took any singing lessons, she grew up surrounded by every kind of musicians, rehearsals and jam sessions every single day, as her parents are musicians too. That helped her a lot in terms of getting used to how the world of music works, and she learned a lot from every musician that was close to her, especially her mother. She also plays the piano, but “in a mediocre way” in her own words, mainly because she ends up using it more like a guide during her writing and composing process, or sometimes just as a distraction or to relax a little.  Daísa said she never really had any interest in specializing herself in the piano, nor the patience or discipline to do so.

It was when our Heavy Metal bombshell was around 18 or 19 years old that she founded Vandroya, having recorded so far with the band a 2-track demo entitled Within Shadows, in 2005, and more recently their first full-length album, One, in 2012 via Spiritual Beast Records and in 2013 via Inner Wound Recordings. And stay tuned, because the compositions for the next Vandroya album are 100% finished and the recording process will start really soon. By the way, Daísa explained the word “Vandroya” means nothing specifically: it was just a suggestion from a friend back in their early years, based on a character in Avantasia who is called Vandroy. The band just loved the way it sounded.

In addition, you can also see our diva in action in many other different bands and projects. She has been performing for years, including her one time all female band called Inlakesh, as well as a Led Zeppelin tribute band named Black Dog. Not only that, she recorded the vocals on track Song of Deliverance, from the 2013 album Exodus by Slovakian Progressive Power Metal band Signum Regis, as well as the vocals as “Judith” or “Judith, The Princess” in three different albums by Brazilian Melodic Power Metal band Soulspell (a Metal Opera project created by Brazilian drummer Heleno Vale): A Legacy of Honor (2008), The Labyrinth of Truths (2010) and Hollow’s Gathering (2012), winning the Best Female Vocalist award from Whiplash.net in 2010 for her work with Soulspell.

There are so many awesome songs with Daísa on vocals on YouTube you can spend hours and hours just listening and watching to our diva kicking ass, so in order for you to get a delicious taste of her unique voice and the mighty metal music played by Vandroya, my recommendations are the beautiful ballad Why Should We Say Goodbye, the Helloween-ish Power Metal tune The Last Free Land (which I’m pretty sure will inspire you so much you’ll buy Vandroya’s debut album after the first listen), the smooth acoustic version of No Oblivion For Eternity, a live performance of one of their first songs, Within Shadows, as well as their recent cover version for the song Heaven, by Canadian icon Bryan Adams.

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In regards to her main music influences, it’s important to say that Robert Plant is her biggest idol of all time, with the way he sings and moves having a huge impact on her onstage performance, which by the way is beyond superb. However, there are so many awesome artists and bands that it’s hard to name just a few. Sacred names such as Dio, Freddy Mercury, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Russel Allen, Robert Plant, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Doro and Ann Wilson are among her biggest idols, being also highly influenced by Iron Maiden, of course, and many German metal bands, especially Helloween, with the unique voice of Michael Kiske leading her into the world of heavy music. Vandroya playing one of my top Helloween songs of all time, the classic March Of Time, is truly outstanding and an amazing tribute from Daísa and her band to the best Teutonic metal band of all time.

In one of her interviews, Daísa stated she has so many idols it’s very hard to choose just a few for a “dream tour”, but that she would truly love to be part of a festival only formed by female-fronted metal bands. It’s about time someone from the Metal Female Voices Fest invites her and the other members of Vandroya to be part of any future editions of the festival, don’t you think?

Lastly, although Daísa grew up listening to a lot of classic rock and hard rock bands, always being completely fanatic for Led Zeppelin, when asked about the top 5 Heavy Metal albums that changed her life, she listed the following ones: Pink Bubbles Go Ape (Helloween), Cowboys from Hell (Pantera), …And Justice for All (Metallica), The Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden) and Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath), I guess not necessarily in this order. Take a good look at this list and answer me if this is not enough awesomeness to consider Daísa a true badass metalhead!

Daísa Munhoz’s Official Facebook page
Vandroya’s Official Facebook page

“…I actually started to search for more female singers and I discovered a lot of amazing and brave warriors that faced this male-dominated market and won it. You know what? I just realized I know so many female singers I could write a book about their careers!” – Daísa Munhoz

Collectibles Review – Iron Maiden Eddie Headknockers

A mandatory item in the collection of any Maidenmaniac in the world.

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eddie head knockers action figure necaWhen someone becomes “obsessed” by a band or artist, he or she is capable of spending unreasonable amounts of money in any stupid garbage that has the band’s name on it. Particularly these days where the illegal downloads are responsible for huge money losses for the record companies, selling concert tickets, exclusive clothing, memorabilia and other things you cannot download became the cash cows for all types of bands, including even giants such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and KISS.

headknocker_somewhereAlthough Metallica has a more commercial approach in their music and KISS has all that magic behind their face painting and stage performance, it is Iron Maiden that has the biggest advantage in selling stuff to their fans due to their unbeatable mascot Eddie. It’s almost impossible to find a Maiden fan that doesn’t have at least one simple T-shirt with Eddie’s face on it, and some fans like me enjoy collecting the weirdest and most exclusive items available (if those items do not “damage” my bank account too much, of course), making this market even more profitable for the band.

Among all the Iron Maiden and/or Eddie stuff I’ve seen in my life, the headknockers (or bobbleheads) produced by the company NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) are the most interesting and detailed, and the price around 30 Canadian Dollars make them a very accessible item for all Maidenmaniacs to add to their collections. They’re very high-quality toys, made of a material that’s way better than any other plastic bobbleheads like the ones from Funko, and they’re bigger too, reaching around 8” tall.

headknocker_trooperNECA launched five Eddie headknockers a few years ago, all extremely well-crafted. I have two of those, The Trooper (which I used in my Trooper Beer review pics, as you can see here) and The Number of the Beast, and I’m still trying to find the other three. Well, when I was in Stockholm (Sweden) this year I saw the Live After Death one at a music store downtown, but it was over 60 Euros, which is too much and my bag was already full of stuff. Regarding the other two, I’ve never seen the Piece of Mind and Somewhere in Time bobbleheads for sale anywhere yet, only some pictures on the Internet. By the way, the Somewhere in Time one seems to be the most awesome of all, followed by The Trooper. I wonder if one day they’ll create new bobbleheads for some other classic Eddies, as for example Powerslave, Phantom of the Opera and Be Quick Or Be Dead (this one would be absolutely insane with Eddie grabbing that same politician by the neck).

headknocker_deathI bought mine at the Sunrise Records located at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, but I’m not sure if they still have any left. Anyway, you can try their online shop, and there’s always something available on Amazon.ca. And if you find any of the three I’m still searching for, please let me know, because instead of “Iron Maiden’s gonna get ya, no matter how far”,  the motto in my case is “I’m gonna get the Eddie headknockers, no matter how far!”