My weekend has certainly been one of epic proportions.. After gettting sucked into partying a bit with Tina, Jakob and friends on Thursday and sweet talking Louise into goin to Burger King on Friday, we spent Friday night partying at Dunkel’s. Saturday was kicked off with another trip to Burger King (my stomach hates me) and an entailing night of mayhem at Louise’s which was cut short for me as I had a pretty big day ahead of me Sunday.. Well, when I say a pretty big day, I mean that I was actually off to see Iron Maiden playing in the no-name Danish city of Horsens which is probably only known for its state prison and having spawned now legendary Danish heavy metal icons, Pretty Maids.
I’d set my alarm clock for 10 AM Sunday, thinking that’d give me enough time to get myself together and be on the 11:45 train towards Horsens.. I never got around to sleeping that long, though, at 9:35, I received a call from Svart, one of the boys we’d been partying with the night before. Kinda confuddled, I pick up the phone and Svart goes “Hi! We’re in Rødekro (an even smaller no name town south of here) and Louise wanted to talk to you!” I grow even more confuddled as the phone is handed off to Louise and she greets me with a cheery “Hi! We’re in Rødekro!”.. Yes, I figured that much by now, but how? and why? Well, apparently it turns out that after I left, Einar blacked out and they all decided it’d be fun to dress him in flour, take pics and laugh. Svart, apparently liking Einar’s new look then decided to style his hair into a Mohawk using.. you guessed it.. (or, well, you probably didn’t) ketchup! After these antics, they decided to go for a walk to get a pack of smokes for Svart.. And, well, one thing led to another and before you knew it, the only reasonable thing to do apparently was to buy tickets for Rødekro and jump on a train.. Needless to say, I was laughing my ass off during this entire account and I only laughed harder when Louise got to the part where they found out that there was absolutely nothing to do in Rødekro at this hour (or any hour probably), and she was now calling me to pass time before they could get the hell home… Epic fail!! 😀
Anyways, as much as I enjoyed talking to Louise, I had an Iron Maiden show to go to, so I hung up the phone, showered, packed up a few beers for the ride and went down to the train station where I picked up some breakfast in the shape of a terrible chicken/bacon sandwich plus a train ticket for Horsens. I ate and then made my way to the platform my train was about to depart from.. And who do I see exit the train before mine as I reach the platform? None other than Einar drenched in flour, Svart with his magnificent ketchup mohawk and a very tired looking Louise with a balloon under her arm and a vague smell of beer hovering over her.. What are the odds? I will say, however, that waiting for the train in full Iron Maiden attire with three strange creatures more or less covered in flour and/or various condiments does earn you a few weird looks.. But it surely also makes the time pass faster.
As my train arrived at the platform, I made my goodbyes with the gang, jumped on for a short ride to the fair city of Fredericia where I was to catch another train for the rest of the ride and also meet up with my “date” for the day, Dennis, who’d been kind enough to buy me the ticket, when my connecting train did arrive, I moved to get on but was met by Dennis and about a dozen other people who popped out for a smoke which led me to conclude that the train was already pretty well booked. A suspicion which proved correct, I noticed as we got back on the train some two minutes later. What was probably even more alarming was that the train was apparently half-full of Iron Maiden fans and half-full of FCK Casuals (aka soccer hooligans) and tension was already riding pretty high.. Maiden fans are friendly folks, though, so they didn’t take much to the somewhat rowdy behavior of the soccer fans. Things even cooled down a bit when I sold one of them a Slots Pilsner (retail price DKK 1) from my stash for the very fair price of DKK 7.. In his mind.. Of course, never being much of a fan of the status quo, I inadvertently fueled the fire a bit more a couple of minutes later when I accidentally spilled beer on one of the Casual’s sparkly Fred Perry shoes. Through the ancient art of diplomacy and frantic apologies, we avoided any major incidents, though.
After a semi-long, hot ride on the train, we arrived in Horsens and a huge line of us Maiden fans piled out of the train, only to realize that we were in fact not in Horsens, but in Hedensted, another Danish city I’ve never heard of, which made us retreat back on the train and ride it for another stop which turned out to in fact be Horsens where we all once again filed out. Locating the concert grounds couldn’t have been any easier as it was situated pretty much smack dab in the middle of the train station’s parking lot and the fuck off stage pretty much gave it away quickly.. So, we went out into the parking lot, located a bunch of other fans, sat down and then we waited.. And waited.. Obviously, we’d greatly overestimated the scale of things. Of 25,000 tickets, only some 12,000 had been sold when we arrived at 1 PM.. Furthermore, there was a rumor going round that more A-section (front stage) tickets had been made available.
Hearing this rumor made Dennis and I think that it’d be interesting to see if we could get our B-section tickets exchanged for A-section ones if only we paid the extra DKK 111, so just for the hell of it, we walked on over to the box office and asked – and were more than a little shocked when the nice lady behind the counter simply said “sure!” .. More than a little happy, too, and our seemingly unprovoked cries of “YEEEEAAH!!! MAIDEN!!” seemed to shock and confuse even the casual fans sitting around and waiting in the sun.
Happy with our new tickets, all we had to do was wait some more. At around 3 PM, we were growing a little anxious because we’d heard that some waiting area would be opened in front of the main concert grounds, but the guards were still turning away people trying to get in. Upon inquiry, we found out that the stupid ass parking lot we were sitting in was actually the waiting area.. Bummer! We all wanted to get in line for front row seats, though, so after a while there was this general consensus that guards or no guards, we’d make a rush for the entrances and queue up. Apparently this worked because the guards eventually stopped turning people away and we all made a rush for the center stage entrance where the crew got more than a little busy setting up booths for us to queue up in.
Spending three hours in line with hundreds of other Maiden fans, most of them also clad in black Maiden band shirts was indescribably hot and icky at times, we did, however have a pretty good time watching the crowd and chatting with other fans. Maiden has a more diverse fan base than any band I’ve probably ever seen.. I guess it comes from them playing together for some 30 years, at any rate it was not uncommon to see middle-aged family fathers in Maiden t-shirts dragging along their 8 or 10 year olds in matching t-shirts.. Or family mothers for that matter.. Or senior citizens.. Crazy, funny, cool!
Finally, at 6 PM, after a five hour wait, the doors were supposed to be opened and we were standing around feeling pretty giddy.. Of course nothing really happened at 6 and only at 6:15 PM did they finally break down the fence and started to let people in.. After which chaos ensued as some 500 people waiting in line at the time was to be led in one person at a time.. Yawn! But hey, it was worth the wait.. After a little chaos, we made it onto the concert area, we then quickly went to pee out what was left of the couple of liters of water we’d each consumed while waiting in line, grabbed some food and some more water and headed for the A-section where we, lo and behold, snatched up the last remaining front row space.. AWESOME! Not only was I first in line for the first time ever.. I was first in line for Iron f’ing Maiden! .. And we now had only three hours left of waiting to do.. But of course some of that time was filled up with openers.
So, what to say of the openers for Iron Maiden? Well, first off was Laureen Harris who was indeed very pretty.. But also very lacking in the talent department.. To her credit, though, she did have a lot of energy to blow and for someone who’s first on the bill, she actually got a decent reaction out of people.. Whether it was due to her performance of the fact that she was jumping around in skin tight leather, I’m not too sure, though.. Probably my favorite part of the show was when she looked down from the edge of the stage at me drinking water and I flashed the horns with my drinking hand at which she laughed and shot me a pair of devil horns right back.. But really, who wouldn’t brag about being singled out by Steve Harris’ smoking hot daughter? 😉
Next up were Avenged Sevenfold which were definitely in an entirely different league. I guess they could best be desribed as metalcore with some post-hardcore, heavy metal and hard rock influences.. But I’m not sure that makes sense, so I’ll just say that they pretty much rocked! The front man charged on stage producing a scream so loud and lengthy that it probably left even Bruce Dickinson himself a bit jealous and they then charged through some pretty awesome tunes (that I’d never heard before). Eventually they decided that people just weren’t fired up enough (which was probably an understatement) and decided to slip us a little treat. They asked us if we’d be interested in hearing a Pantera cover and when they subsequently tore into a bad-ass rendition of “Walk”, the place pretty much exploded in a frenzy of fists and horns, bouncing bodies and hoarse male voices singing the oh so familiar lyrics. When the band eventually stopped playing and let the crowd finish the rest of the chorus after which they dedicated the performance to late, great Dimebag Darrell, the frenzy peaked and I spent the next couple of songs sorta recovering from what had just happened. Eventually the boys had to cut their set short because, as they put it, they had to play Pantera for us, but nobody really seemed to mind. I’d heard good stuff about these guys and I was pretty pleased, I must say.
The Iron Maiden
I’d been more than a little surprised to see what kinda stage show Iron Maiden would come up with. When we arrived, most of the stage had been covered in black plastic, so we didn’t know at all what to expect, but when I noticed not one, not two, nor three or four, but FIVE pyro technicians charging stage after Avenged Sevenfold, I knew we were probably in for somewhat of a treat. You know a band is getting large when not only the band, but also their stage crew get a huge pop from the audience which is exactly what happened here. The crowd were actually cheering the crew on and some of the roadies even made the best of the situatuin, working the crowd a little while we were treated with some classic Motörhead, Priest and other good stuff over the speakers. All in all the wait didn’t seem too long at all (but maybe that was due to having already waited some eight hours).
When UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” hit the PA, we knew what time it was.. And if we didn’t, the thunderous chants of “Maiden, Maiden, Maiden!” probably cued us in. “Doctor Doctor” gave way to Maiden’ts classic 80’s opener “Churchill’s Speak” at which point I struggled to fulfil a promise to Lea, grabbing my phone, dialing her up and holding the phone towards the stage as the six 50-something members of Iron Maiden took the stage with “Aces High”.. A few lines into the song, I had to give up on Lea and put my phone away before I dropped it, half way into the first chorus everything around me, myself included, was going absolutely crazy.. Everybody knew the words, everybody were singing along as loud as they possibly could, horns were flying constantly and heads were banged.. By the next track, “2 Minutes To Midnight”, things were even crazier as I was being smashed against the fence, making the best of the situation, leaning forwards, banging my head and raising my hands at the living legends that were walking around on stage 3 meters in front of us. At that point Dave Murray and Steve Harris came on over to our side of the stage. Murray looked down at me, laughed, shot me the thumbs up at which point Harris also looked down, locked eyes with me briefly and started headbanging in unison.. Which, I’m pretty scared to admit, actually made me feel better than the recognition from his lovely daughter.
“Welcome to a parking lot in Denmark!” Bruce screamed cockily before making every classic Maiden fan’s wet dream come through, as the band charged through “Revelations”, “The Trooper” and “Wasted Years” next.. Of which I only really knew the first two so I stuck to just singing along to the chorus of “Wasted Years” which probably saved me a bit of the use of my voice as it was already fading pretty badly.. “The Number Of The Beast Followed” complete with plastic devils, satanic imagery and one hell of a pyro show featuring six feet high flames going off all across stage and almost scorching our eye brows.. It felt like that anyways.. As if that wasn’t enough “Can I Play With Madness?” (ever the crowd pleaser) followed, leading up to a truly magnificent experience, a full performance of the almost 15-minute long “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” (aka what not to do when an albatros shits on you) complete with smoke, pyro, dress changes, moving stage, visual effects and what the fuck have you.. Believe you me when I say it was stunning and probably worth the ticket alone.
A whole host of other Maiden classics followed such as “Powerslave”, “Heaven Can Wait” (though I’m pretty sure most of us was actually in heaven at the time), “Fear Of The Dark”, “Run To The Hills”, “Iron Maiden” (featuring mummy Eddie), “Moonchild” (featuring Cyborg Eddie), “The Clairvoyant” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” which ended the show and saw everybody jumping and headbanging, a truly amazing sight.. When the song finally ended on the last note and gave way to Monty Python’s “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life”, both Dennis and I were nearly too spent to even make a move for the exit, but we knew we had to in that we had a train to catch.. And catch it we did, luckily.. And quite luckily so because had we not made it, I’d have missed my connection in Fredericia and been stuck there till like 2:30.. Instead I made it back to Kolding at around 12:30 AM where I decided to take a fucking stupid ass route home by way of downtown meaning that I eventually made it home at around 1 AM or so.
Naturally, one doesn’t just go to sleep after the show of a life time, so I was pretty happy when Louise decided to drop by for a few hours.. Some would argue that hanging out at 2 AM on a Sunday is rather strange behavior, but I’d go for late night Simpsons with good company any day.. As could be expected, though, she was none too thrilled to see a Johan who could barely talk, move his neck or let alone barely walk or hear her voice probably due to ringing in her ears, so she kinda made me promise to take it a bit more relaxed next time around.. Blah, sorry, but that’s the way I roll.. Awesome show!