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| The Iron Maiden Commentary | Rants | Rant 18: Of Old And New |


Of Old And New


Iron Maidenís Brave New World Tour continues as of this writing with the band hitting Japan for a series of successful concerts Iím sure. Apparently, contrary to some rumors floating around on the net, the set list continues to vary very little if at all from the one played in Europe and North America. Those of us fortunate enough to have attended one of Maidenís great shows from this tour, knows that their current set list is comprised mainly of new material from their Brave New World album. You will be reading my thoughts on the inclusion of these new songs, and of the complaints I have been reading or hearing regarding such inclusion and the subsequent exclusion of some songs.

I was surfing the web recently looking to purchase Brave New World on mini disc. One of the sites I visited was that of Columbia/Portrait, their record label in the US. I did not find the information I was looking for, but I read a review of one of their recent shows linked from the Columbia/Portrait site. To my surprise, this was a negative review. I will not say anything at this time regarding the fact that a record label would link a negative article about one of its premier bands, and I wonít go into details of what the article said, but basically the reviewerís complaint was that Maiden played too many new songs and that a lot of people, including the reviewer, left the concert before it ended because no old songs were being played. The reviewer said something to the effect that the fans are being alienated because theyíre not playing the old songs, and that they will end up like Def Leppard not being able to fill venues because they didnít play old songs.

Let me try to address my perceived inaccuracies here.

I donít want to spend much time with the Def Leppard reference, but I donít think a comparison is even in order here. As far as I know, Def Leppard filled stadiums based on the success of their radio-friendly hits, and my opinion is that the fickle MTV crowd, who flocked to their shows during their Hysteria era, was to busy savoring a new flavor of the month by the time Def Leppard toured again. This type of situation has never taken place with Maiden. Maiden developed a fiercely loyal fan base by not succumbing to the commercial demands of record company executives and radio programmers, but by touring non-stop and producing quality material that was not only musically but intellectually challenging.

Now, as far as the band drawing from their latest album for material, I believe that the purpose of touring for a new album is to promote that very same album. How does an artist promote his/her new album? Simply by playing songs from the new album! Iron Maiden is not a greatest hits act. What happens when a well-established band releases a new album and tours behind it, but only plays the old songs? The act becomes tiresome very quickly. How will they make new classics if they donít even give them a chance? I think itís very commendable that Maiden is not overtly cashing in the nostalgia trip (note the word "overtly") and that theyíre out promoting a new album by actually playing songs off it. There are many new fans coming aboard whose first album was Virtual XI, or even Brave New World. These fans are going to have emotional ties to songs like 'The Clansman' and 'The Fallen Angel', just like the rest of us old geezers have emotional ties to 'Run To The Hills', for example. Whether we like it or not, to please the "old" fans is probably not their sole purpose, and actually I don't think it should. There is room for that, but it's not the only concern here. The music world of our favorite band does not revolve around us "old" fans.

As far as the charge that theyíre alienating their fans, well... how quickly we forget. This is the band that conducted a poll to see which songs were the favorites of their fans and went out on a tour to specifically play those songs! I think that pretty much takes care of that argument.

Letís face it; the band canít please everyone. If they were to play all the songs that the "fans" wanted to hear, theyíd have to play for hours and hours, and that is just unrealistic. There are songs that I personally want to hear like 'Phantom Of The Opera' and 'To Tame A Land', but theyíve already played these songs, and there are good live recordings to which I can go back and enjoy. There are other songs that theyíll probably never play live, since they havenít done so already (If I had a nickel for every time I've read/heard someone say "They should play 'Alexander The Great'...!") In the concert that I attended, Bruce basically said that they were not out to play the old songs in some kind of nostalgia tour, and he asked that if there were any people present who wanted to re-live their childhood, to please leave. Iím glad that theyíre out playing new songs. Iím not really sure about how much longer weíll be able to enjoy Maiden shows, so Iíll be happy to listen to them play as many songs as they can, (even if I can do without listening to 'Sanctuary' one more time).

The bottom line is that Maiden want to be, and can be a relevant band today. That canít be said about many bands that were around in the early to mid 80s who are still around today. The fact that Maiden is having a successful world tour is a testament to their staying power and growing loyal fan base. Maiden is a superior band in all senses of the word, and its legacy will remain long after the unit has ceased to exist. There are some good bands out thereÖ There are some really exceptional bands out there, but there is no apparent heir in sight even years after Maidenís so-called golden years of the mid to late 80s, which is either a tribute to the bandís unique force of character or a lack of imagination and/or courage amongst most "metal" bands today.

11th November 2000

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