A Maiden voyage

Last weekend was a strenuous but happy one! Myself, my little brother Martin and two friends Danne and Tony went on a road trip from Stockholm down to Gothenburg (around 500 kilometers) to see the Iron Maiden concert at the lovely Ullevi stadium.
We started out around seven Saturday morning, to be able to get down there in time to make into the front enclosure of the standing section. On the way down we passed by a small village named “Köttkulla”, which loosely translates to “meatmaid”…

Due to some lack of planning we didn’t have any hotel or hostel room to stay in, and literally every place in Gothenburg was sold out. The plan was to find something on the way down or drive home all night straight after the concert.

About maybe 40 kilometers or so before we reached Gothenburg, Tony saw a sign that said “Cabins to lease”. We took the exit and started following the signs, but all it did was getting us deeper end deeper into some woods where the Swedish equivalent of Deliverance should be filmed. We found some ghost ski hill/camping site, but by then we turned back before it was too late. I think the place was called “Bollekullen”, just to warn all you other unaware travellers…

Once in Gothenburg, we parked the car in a parking place close to the Liseberg amusement park and started the walk in the 30 degrees Celsius heat. And trust me, doing that in jeans and a black t-shirt was not a pleasant stroll.
When we got to the arena, around maybe two in the afternoon, I was shocked to see how many people that were already queuing to get in to the standing section. Some of them had been there since Wednesday, so I really was amazed to see people waiting for four days to get in.

After about an hour or so we met up with my friends Peter, Rickard and Rickard’s son Oscar, and then waited for some hours in the scorching sun and the chaos that belongs to testosteron-filled men afraid of not getting a good spot. At around 4.30 they started to let us in, and it was a bit of ruckus before we got into the arena. When I got onto the field, I’m pretty sure I set some kind of sprinting record running as a maniac to make it into the front part. But I made it! Once in there, one can walk in and out of that enclosure, with a small plastic bracelet that basically is a guarantee for a good place to stand when the show starts.

The weather had been terrific the whole week, so imagine my surprise when the rain started pouring down at around 5.30. Not that attractive when it comes to an outdoor concert…
It rained maybe an hour and a half, and during that time there were many theories going around, designated cloudwatchers trying to see where the wind would take them etc, but then it stopped and the weather was flawless the rest of the evening.

One of the two opening bands were In Flames, originating in Gothenburg, so it really was home turf for them. Personally, I’m not really a big fan of their music, but their joy and sheer happiness was contagious, and it ended up being a really good opening band moment.

Then, it was time to get ready for Maiden, time to start making one’s way into the crowd to get as close to the stage as humanly possible. This was going to a very special event, for a number of reasons:

  • There were 57 000 people in the audience.
  • It would be broadcasted live on national television in Sweden and Finland.
  • They were only going to play songs from their first four records.

So, what could stop it from being the greatest thing ever? Well, unfortunately, some things…
I mean, except for the anecdote Danne told me where one guy pied in his beer glass and then put it down, just to later found out that it was gone…

Anyway, let me describe the gig:

The audience

While most of them were in some kind of eternal bliss mood, they weren’t really acting it out as I thought they would. During the beginning of it, I was standing some meters from the stage, but during the latter half it was just one guy between me and the front fence. People seemed to be worn out from waiting outside the arena for several days, many of them not really knowing when to jump and some actually seemed surprised and unknowing of a couple of the songs and their special differential parts.

The amosphere before the gig was great but it didn’t feel just that happy after a couple of songs. To compare, I think it was a much better ambience at Iron Maiden’s concert in Stockholm Stadion in 2003.

The set list

I’m sorry to say this, but to me it was disappointing. This is how it looked:

  1. Murders in the Rue Morgue
  2. Another life
  3. Prowler
  4. The trooper
  5. Remember tomorrow
  6. Where eagles dare
  7. Run to the hills
  8. Revelations
  9. Wrathchild
  10. Die with your boots on
  11. Phantom of the opera
  12. The number of the beast
  13. Hallowed be thy name
  14. Iron Maiden

Encores:

  1. Running free
  2. Drifter
  3. Sanctuary

Of course there are many good songs there, but first, I think that any song from the Killers album is a song too much. Well, not really, but out of the ones chosen only Wrathchild appeals to me. Murders in the Rue Morgue is an ok song, but definitely not one I’d chosen to open with. My pick? Maybe Prowler or Where eagles dare.

Instead of the mediocre songs they chose from the Killers album, I think it’s unforgivable that they didn’t play any of these songs:

  • Charlotte the Harlot
  • Transylvania
  • Children of the Damned
  • The Prisoner
  • 22 Accacia Avenue
  • Flight of Icarus

 

Conclusion

It was a good gig, no doubt about it. But being their last concert on their Europen tour and being broadcasted live to about 20 million people, I think I expected a little more extra than an ordinary gig. Maybe it’s because it’s the 9th time I’ve seen them live, maybe I had my expectations set too high due to the above mentioned circumstances. But I still think they could’ve played longer (it only lasted about 90 minutes) and perhaps add some extra songs for the occasion, that they could’ve had a more spectacular stage show and just something that would’ve made me feel that it wasn’t a day on the job for Maiden.

Personally, I also think that they could’ve thrown some more stuff to the hardcore audience in the front (no, I’m not jealous since I didn’t get anything, my happiness was already made on a previous Maiden evening when I managed to get Dave Murray’s pick). It makes people so happy to get a little piece of plastic or something of the like from their idols. But I still have to congratulate the guy in front of me who got sweatbands from both Nicko and Dave!

I haven’t seen the live recording yet, so this is my perception of actually being there. It’ll be interesting though to see what it looked like on TV.

So, to round the review part up. It was good, but not spectacular. I’d give it a 3 out of 5.

Afterwards, I was soaked with sweat and water that the guards at the fence poured at us to stop us raving fans from dehydrating. Since things can get a little crazy at concerts, I told the other guys that we would meet up at the fence separating the front and back part of the standing area. Naturally, they weren’t there. I waited for maybe 20-30 minutes before I gave up and exited the arena. It was also given that it was impossible to reach anyone on their cell phone, so I wandered around outside the arena scouring the place in my search for them (especially since one of them had the car keys).

Finally I found them and of course the reply was:

Oh, you meant that fence.

We got to the car and changed into dry clothes. After that, it was time to get something to eat, and inevitably we ended up at McDonald’s. Like Tony said, the staff in the kitchen there seemed to multiply like rabbits, I’ve never though they could fit so many behind the counter.

Finally, we got back to the car and Martin, our hero, drove the whole night back to Stockholm. I got home exactly 24 hours after I left the previous morning. A great weekend adventure!

 

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2 Comments

  • You could easily have sleept under the stars. Personally I just heard the music from one of the vista points in Gothenburg.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Erik,

    Good to se you here!

    Although, if you were to comment on any of my posts I didn't think this'd be the first one!

    And yes, we could've slept in some park or something. But since my brother volunteered to drive, it felt pretty good to get home too!

    Was it a good listening experience from where you stood?

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