Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Daily Wanker 2006 review of Satanic Rituals: Raising the Beast

As has been made clear by Christians throughout modern history, music is the medium of Satan, and Satan has been present in the works of all the major musicians history has ever seen. Sadly, until recently Satan was busy hanging out with the losers - titillating the girlies with Mozart, drinking behind the bike sheds with the boys from Led Zeppelin, or even fooling around in an oversized bed with John Lennon. Fortunately he decided to shoot through (literally) on these arrangements and in the late 70s he gave up all his bad habits and returned to the age old business of raising Hell. For assistance with the rituals he turned to Iron Maiden, the accepted masters of the art of Satan worship.

Despite their inauspicious choice of spiritual backing, Iron Maiden have done considerably better than Satan's last success, Mephistopheles, and last weekend were in Hiroshima conducting the latest of a series of exhausting world tours which, on account of my having lived in Australia, I never got to see. So imagine my excitement when I discovered I could visit Hiroshima and see them live this time around! I had even been led to believe my ticket would include a VIP pass to meet the High Priests of Hell, for which eventuality I had bought and painted a model Hurricane Spitfire for them to sign, and had thought of several questions to ask them which I could present here as an interview.

Sadly I had been misled regarding this most joyous of possibilities, so my Hurricane Spitfire proved a wasted effort, but I was still able to see a vintage performance by the undisputed masters of the live act. Sure, Prince might have better clothes; Britney Spears might have bigger tits; Henry Rollins might have bigger muscles (and a smaller dick); but nobody, nobody, can compare with the Irons for energy, passion and the sheer joy of raising hell for, well... the hell of it. They came on with an appropriate burst of energy, playing the first song off their new album (A matter of life and death), and soared through two or three songs from that album to rapturous screams and satanic gestures before settling in to talk to the crowd. Having assured us that their metal credentials are intact at the ripe age of (surely) nearly 50, they launched into a complete and unadulterated rendition of their new album, start to finish.

I think there must be a thing about Japanese crowds liking this sort of thing - Metallica, you will recall, did a complete review of their Opus, Master of Puppets, and I had kind of hoped that the Maidens would do the same thing with one of their classics - the Number of the Beast being their most obvious offering. Nonetheless, the new album is by no means a disappointment - how could it be, with these boys firing away? and I was happy to be able to immerse myself in an hour of the Irons at their best. This was followed, of course, by a couple of their oldest and greatest: 2 Minutes to Midnight, the song which in 1984 best described all our warmongering leaders; and Iron Maiden (gonna get you no matter how far...). During this extravaganza of retributive threat the stage erupted - from behind it emerged a massive tank turret, whose hatch opened to reveal the Iron Maiden mascot, Eddy. A 3m robot Eddy then emerged from behind the stage, gun in hand, and started shooting the audience and generally being evil. this was the sign for the curtain call, and the obligatory demands for an encore.

For the encore we were given Fear of the Dark, which I once had on a blood-red vinyl LP; the evil that men do, which holds the best line in any song by anyone ever ('slept in the dust with his daughter, eyes red with the slaughter of innocence'); and to finish one of my all-time personal favourites, the song which ended capital punishment in 62 nations, Hallowed be thy name (Idi Amin is said to have been brought to tears by the line 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, Hallowed be thy name', and briefly considered apologising to all his victims). There it finished, and we filed out of the post-office hall, reduced to mere mortals again, the Spirit of Darkness all too briefly consumed in that sweaty, bouncing throng. I had failed to meet my Satanic Idols, but I had managed to worship them - which is sufficient, and more than I had ever expected.

When I was younger I thought the only way I could ever get to see Iron Maiden live would be if Satan were actually real, and I could drain my blood to his glory. Fortunately for all of us (except that large pool of stupid people who vote for Dubya), Satan is just a dream; and so, sometimes, is the experience of being here in the centre of the world, where all good things come to those who wait (or hop on a bus to Hiroshima ...)


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