Wednesday, December 22, 2010

PAUL DI'ANNO AT B.B. KING'S IN TIMES SQUARE

Well.  If you transported me to B.B. King's in Times Square tonight in the middle of this show, it would have taken me a minute to figure out what I was watching.  A few minutes.  Original Iron Maiden singer Paul Di'Anno looks a bit different these days, and he sounds different too.  By the way, thank you to my friend Neil for the photo.

Of course, who doesn't look different and sound different than they did a quarter century ago! But Di'Anno wasn't trying to cover anything up.  He admitted throughout the show that he's "too old for this shit" but he gave a spirited performance, backed by opening band Icarus Witch (which kind of gave the gig a heavy metal Crazy Heart vibe, if you get the reference). The band were more Queensryche than Iron Maiden in my opinion, but they did a good job backing Paul, who gave 110% - he even came back after a stage diver crashed into his leg, causing him a lot of obvious pain (and forcing him to stop "Phantom Of The Opera" - luckily, he started over when he stopped seeing stars). He reminded the audience that he's been making lots of music since leaving Maiden in '81 - he played a number of songs from his post-Maiden career.  And the crowd were with him.

But what everyone was there to hear, mostly, were the songs from the first album, 1980's classic Iron Maiden. The show was advertised as focusing on that album, and it did (as well as a few songs from the follow-up, 1981's also classic Killers). Paul's voice isn't as preserved as well as, say, Rob Halford's; he's more like Ozzy Osbourne: it's not about being technically perfect, it's about having a lot of heart, and Paul does. What struck me during the show was that he could have just as easily been in a punk band as a metal band: he seems as influenced by Johnny Rotten as by any hard rock singer. Some fans looked annoyed when he spit out the lyrics to "Murderers in The Rue Morgue" hardcore punk style. It's hard to imagine him staying with Maiden much longer than he did. I could maybe picture him singing the songs on Number Of The Beast, but after that, no way.  Powerslave?  No way.  This dude would sooner kick your ass than sing "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner."

So, anyway, the show: was it as great as Maiden were in the early '80s? I doubt it. But it was probably more satisfying to the fans of the old stuff than Maiden's recent tour, where they focused on material from their last decade. And much cheaper: tickets tonight were $15 and $20. And hearing "Running Free," "Remember Tomorrow," "Killers," "Murderers In The Rue Morgue" sung by the guy who first did the vocals for them all those years ago, it was worth the price.

A bittersweet moment of the show came when Paul dedicated a song to original Maiden drummer Clive Burr, who now suffers from MS (Maiden have done fundraisers to raise money for him to help pay his medical bills). Apparently Clive isn't doing very well, but Paul talked fondly about always getting into trouble with with him and founding guitarist Dave Murray (who is still in the band).  Perhaps more surprisingly, he talked about Maiden's bassist and boss, Steve Harris, saying that he doesn't hate Steve, and in fact they are still great friends. Although he did mention that this tour was to say thanks to the fans  "because my old band aren't doing anything for the 30th anniversary."

He also mentioned that next year, he's doing one last album and one last tour (where he'll play his solo material, not Maiden music) and then retire to his home in Brazil and run his tattoo shop.  I can see why he'd do that - it can't be easy to do these kinds of tours, it probably isn't super luxurious and he was tired by the end of the night. But I was glad to have had the chance to see one of my favorite metal singers doing some of my favorite songs ever, so thanks Paul for making this last go-round.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I WANTED TO KILL THAT ASSHOLE THAT STAGE DOVE INTO HIM.

Minority said...

yeah, man, that was not cool, and Paul split and didn't do Phantom again, and Running Free I would have been really pissed off. But thanks for reading my blog and commenting!