Kate Bush and Metallica get the stranger things bump press, but when the kids were frantically looking for tunes to save one of their pals, it wasn’t love dogs Where Puppeteer that Eddie Munson caught. When a girl sifted through a stack of cassette tapes and cried in vain “Madonna, Bowie, Blondie, Beatles! Music! We need music!” Eddie was holding an Iron Maiden tape Peace of mind high and proclaimed”It IS muuussicc!The instantly memorized moment served as a statement for the music teenager calling it.
Now Iron Maiden is returning that call to all local Eddie Munsons. The quintessential British heavy metal band presents the Legacy of the Beast World Tour at Spokane Arena on Friday, September 30. It’s the band’s first show in Spokane since 1988, around the same time stranger things is defined.
To put it into perspective, Guns N’ Roses opened for Iron Maiden at that gig in 1988. At the time, I wasn’t quite 9 years old and knew nothing about Iron Maiden or Axl Rose. In a way, I’m jealous of people who’ve had Iron Maiden their whole lives, like my own 9-year-old son.
My son and I used to spend hours watching cartoons on YouTube of the band’s mascot, Eddie the Head, having crazy sci-fi adventures with the band’s songs. Sometimes the adventure suited the song, and sometimes it didn’t. What matters is that I turned my kid into a metalhead early on. His favorite song and official video is “Speed of Light” from 2017 book of souls album. That’s the best thing about a band like Iron Maiden. Their longevity means that a person’s favorite song may be a newer song or a track that was still new when they first heard the band.
True to its name, the tour itself has indeed become a beast. Shows carried over from the pandemic era joined stops such as Spokane that were announced late in the run. During the tour and postponement, the band’s 17th studio album senjutsu has been freed. I’m sure they’ll play at least a song or two from the new samurai-inspired album, but it’s still the old stuff we want to hear vocalist Bruce Dickinson sing. Val Andrade cartoons and music videos are fun, but Iron Maiden are one of those bands that lived and died on subsequent tours and live albums.
There are a handful of widely acclaimed “best live albums” out there, but when it comes to heavy metal, if Iron Maiden Life after death is not on the list – and probably on top – I question the writer’s judgment. This album was made in 1982 during a concert in Long Beach, California. I was born there but only been there once. Watching my glorious DVD version of the concert brings me closer to a place I should know and don’t.
Of course, I’ve never been to England or Hell, and Iron Maiden makes me feel close to those places too. I could explain how Iron Maiden, a band whose greatest popularity coincided with the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, isn’t satanic, but I don’t know if you’re ready for that. Are you ready for me to point out that Satan (aka The Beast) on Iron Maiden’s most famous album beast number may seem like he’s pulling the strings of humanity, but above him is Eddie, the real puppeteer? Does this mean that Iron Maiden is in charge, or that collectively they believe in some kind of higher power? While band members can choose whether or not to take a religious standpoint, the lyrics are filled with people exploring the implications of faith and whether to side with good or evil.
My son – he’s 9, remember – doesn’t understand that yet. He loves guitars and Eddie’s scary cartoony look. There are no Halloween masks of drummer Nico McBrain or bassist Steve Harris, but most of Eddie’s album cover versions can be found around this time of year, ready to be put on for trick or treatment.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Iron Maiden t-shirt designs to wear all year round. Wear them to school or to family gatherings. You will quickly find out who among these groups is cool and who is not.
I’m ready to find out how cool Bruce Dickinson is. Will he sing “Shout for me, Spokane!” with the short a, or will he belt it out with a bit of British at the end? “Shout for me, Spo-KANE!”
Either way, this Friday night in the arena should be one to remember. Get out your denim or leather jacket of choice, jeans you can walk around in, and most importantly, don’t laugh at anyone who says heavy metal, and Iron Maiden in particular, isn’t music . ♦
Iron Maiden, Trivium • Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. • $62-$225 • All ages • Spokane Arena • 720 W. Mallon Ave. • spokanearena.com