STEVE HARRIS BRITISH LION LIVE WITH 50 SHOT GALLERY
Islington Academy, London and O2 Academy, Birmingham
John Oakley and Tony Mottram
Maiden's pulling power is legendary, as attested to by the fact many a fan has made the trip from as far as Japan, Greece and Switzerland to make these gigs. It's a nice opportunity to renew acquaintances with guys I've seen at different venues across the world in my fanboy obsession with the world's best Metal band.
On to the gig - tonight the venue is packed, and sweaty. It's all songs taken from the Steve Harris solo album, 'British Lion', and as such I'd expected quite a light reflective set, but live these songs come across as heavy as Maiden classics and are delivered by Steve's trademark mentality - energy and ferocity.
Close your ears and you could be watching 'Aces High' being played. Steve becomes the bassist frontman for the band, turning the songs into Maidenesque singalongs, with a crowd who lap up every moment and comply dutifully.
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It's lovely to see Steve up close and personal in such a small venue, something I've not seen since his guest slot with his daughter's solo debut at the short lived new Marquee Club or before that when Blaze era Maiden played Rock City. That in essence is the unique selling point behind these shows, and the value to many a fan here.
The songs are played with a remarkable passion and reminded me of Bruce's 'Tattooed Millioniare' London solo show way back when, when Janick was introduced and the Maiden boys came on for the encore to delight one and all. No guest appearances tonight but the show still went with a bang.
The evening drew to a close with a cover of UFO's 'Let It Roll' and then the Steve penned 'Eyes Of The Young'. One has to ask... would the crowd be here for the band if Steve wasn't in it? Still, it's a good opportunity and was a great night out.
But in context, it's a sad week for the Maiden family with the Clive Burr funeral the day before and the announcement of the death of long time drum tech Steve 'Gaddsy' Gadd. My deepest sympathies to all who knew and worked with them.
Steve kept the Maiden flag flying tonight with his usual professionalism in what must have been a very emotional time.
Roll on DONINGTON (and taking my liver in my own hands in Portugal and Spain with Mark Taylor and our own Peninsular War Tour).
Plus England only drew...
Tony Mottram took these excellent shots at the Birmingham gig. Click the small image to see the full size version...