Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Scream for me, New Jersey!!!!!"

What is going on this picture? There's big stage with pyrotechnics, a giant, costumed General Custer on stilts, a bunch of guys in skinny pants... and guitars. If you guessed Iron Maiden concert, ding! ding! ding! If you ever guessed I would be attending one, in Newark, New Jersey no less, you are quite the clairvoyant, my friend. 'Cos I never would have believed it, even a few months ago.

But I'm so glad I went.

I somehow found myself with a ticket after one of those late night, drunken "Holy shit! That sounds amazing!" ideas that most of the time never really (thankfully) come to fruition. (If they did, I would be the proud owner of an otter and a kiddy pool, a frustrated Duran Duran rock musical playwright and probably stranded somewhere in Chile trying to find my way home from Easter Island.) The idea of seeing Alice Cooper open up for Iron Maiden indeed sounded pretty amazing. Even the next day. After all, I heard Alice still puts on quite the theatrical show, something I've wanted to see since his Muppet Show appearance in the 70s. If you're gonna see a heavy metal act, at least pick one that didn't polarize all their fans by changing their sound, performing with only half their original members or shutting down a popular music sharing website. In other words, see band that straight up just performs a kick ass show. With fire and lots of rubber props.

And if you're gonna be in Newark, might as well take advantage of a traditional meal in the Ironbound. John's friend, Louise, had a great recommendation for Seabra Marisqueira, just a few minutes away from the PATH train. As longtime fans of Portuguese food, we've been used to city portions in relation to menu prices. But this is a family joint. And thus, everything is family sized. Fact: the Portuguese are not known for having small families. Here's John with mixed seafood and vegetables, with impressive inverted skewer presentation:

Traditional pork and clams with potatoes. Incidentally, all washed down with Adriano Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas '09.

But on with the show!

Alice Cooper was a ton of fun. Admittedly, the guy is looking a little long in the tooth, but he still sounds pretty good. Here he is in classic "No More Mr. Nice Guy" with live boa. (Incidentally, although our seats were pretty close, any closeup shots are grabs from the nearby video screen.)

He did the guillotine bit, which was awesome.

And to the delight of the crowd, appropriately appeared in a Devils jersey for his closing song, "School's Out." 

I have to say, Iron Maiden really brings it. Lead singer (and aviation businessman) Bruce Dickinson, now sporting more stylish shorn locks, is in terrific shape both physically and vocally.

One of the most fun aspects of seeing Iron Maiden live is their stage props. For this tour, they resurrected many of the vintage sets from previous outings. 

Performing the classic 1982 hit, "Number of the Beast." I can't imagine how hot it was onstage since even up in the tiers there was a menopausally noticeable temperature change. 

Bassist Steve Harris performing "Phantom of the Opera," from the 1980 self-titled album. Each record had its own giant backdrop, which would switch out between songs, cluing the audience in to what came next. 

Here's Bruce performing "Can I Play With Madness" from the 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, complete with psychedelic crystal skeleton ball and giant glowing wizard.

From the same record, this prop can only be described as a giant rubber thing holding a giant moving rubber Belial in Basket Case-looking thing in its palm. On fire.

Adrian Smith on guitar.

Drummer Nicko McBrain.

Dueling guitar action. 

But of course, what makes it all worth it is an enthusiastic crowd. As these veterans clearly knew, the best way to handle one in Jersey is to work "New Jersey" into as many lyrics as loudly as possible. "Scream for me, New Jersey!!!!!" Here (and you can also almost hear as) the crowd responds.

I was proudly among them, albeit from a considerably higher vantage point. Enjoying every last blast. Special thanks to John's pal Howie for putting this all together, and one of the most entertaining rides back to Manhattan ever.

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