Scream for me Dublin!

Iron Maiden, 3Arena, Dublin, 06 May 2017

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Way back in September 1990 I attended my first Iron Maiden concert.  I was a fifteen year old Heavy Metal Fanatic and this was a big deal for me.  I remember vividly the sense of excitement and the feeling of camaraderie as we walked in our thousands—clad in denim and leather and the obligatory white sneakers—along the quays towards the old Point Depot.

Twenty seven years later, I’m partaking in the same pilgrimage and the air is charged with that same sense of anticipation.  It’s a beautiful day in May and Dublin is swarming with metal fans.  Loud rock music is blaring from Lanigans and other pubs along the quays as we make our way to the venue.  The mood is high and the atmosphere is that of a carnival.

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Eddie overseeing proceedings

Maiden are known for their elaborate stage shows and The Book of Souls Tour does not disappoint.  The stage is beautifully decked out in Mayan themed imagery that matches the artwork of the latest album to the finest of details.  The video intro which leads into If Eternity Should Fail, the opening track from The Book of Souls, is enough to drive the capacity crowd into near frenzy and by the time the band hit the stage, the 3Arena is a cauldron of noise.

The set list is one of the best in recent years and classics like The Trooper and Wrathchild sit nicely alongside new tracks like The Book of Souls and The Red and the Black without interrupting the flow of the show one iota.  Children of the Damned was one of the highlights of the night, in my opinion and the version of Powerslave was absolutely masterful.  Death or Glory from the new record is fast becoming a fan favourite, evidenced in Dublin by the thousands of voices singing along with Bruce Dickinson, who takes the opportunity to show that he doesn’t take it all too seriously, singing the whole track while wearing a monkey mask.  Those who know the song will know why!

All the necessary elements needed to make up a great Iron Maiden show were there:  Steve Harris machine-gunning the front row with his bass, Bruce Dickinson ping-ponging about the whole stage like a man half his age, the scrap between Eddie and Janick Gers, and a huge, brooding Baphomet overshadowing the band during The Number of the Beast.

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Is this metal enough for you?…

The fact that Iron Maiden, after so many years of recording albums and touring around the world, can still fill huge venues and present a set list containing nearly fifty percent brand new material is incredibly impressive.  It demonstrates how relevant the band still is to the world of rock music and how committed and hard working they are as musicians.  Their fans of course realise this and that’s why Maiden are still at the apex of the metal pyramid.  Here’s hoping that there will be another album and another tour.

Up the Irons!

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Ian O’Sullivan

The Road to Hamburg

‘A Question & Answer Session with Johnny Campbell’

Cork City Library, Thursday, 27 August, 7pm

During his musical apprenticeship with the Fontana Showband, the young Rory Gallagher, a mere fifteen when he joined in 1963, learned his craft as a touring musician. Never to be content as a cog in a machine churning out safe, dance-hall friendly, pop hits, night after night, Rory would inevitably push himself to the fore. As his reputation as a guitarist began to grow, the Fontana changed their name to The Impact in 1965 to reflect a more blues/rock-oriented set list showcasing Rory’s fiery guitar work.

Ireland’s conservative music scene was hardly the ideal stomping ground for this new direction, however, and The Impact was forced to find work abroad. As a natural metamorphosis, a stripped-down three-piece version of the band — featuring Rory on guitar & vocals, Johnny Campbell on drums and Oliver Tobin on bass — eventually found themselves on the club circuit in Hamburg, Germany.

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For three Irish teenagers arriving in Hamburg in 1965, a city still reverberating with the aftershock from legendary performances at the Star Club, from the likes of The Beatles and Jerry Lee Lewis, it must have been like walking on to a film set, such was its legendary status. Even today, Hamburg is a city which pulses with primal, hedonistic energy. We can only imagine what it was like back in its heyday of the 1960s.

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Monument to the legendary Star Club in St. Pauli, Hamburg

Throughout this relatively short but formative period in Rory Gallagher’s career, Johnny Campbell was the man behind the drum kit. As part of the 2015 National Heritage Week programme of events, Johnny will be in Cork City Library on Thursday, 27 August, at 7pm, for a special ‘Question & Answer’ session on his time with The Impact Showband and Rory Gallagher. So, if you’d like to hear it ‘from the horse’s mouth’, then here’s your chance!

In 1966, Rory Gallagher quit The Impact and went on to form the Taste. The rest, as they say, is history. And what a history it is! even if it ended prematurely. Like another Irish hero, Cú Chulainn, Rory Gallagher lived a short life that was filled with glory and his name will live on as part of musical lore until the last Fender Strat is plugged into the last Vox AC 30.

 

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