Its the second night of the new run of the Maiden England Tour. Bilbao is a city with a big Metal community with its 'metal mile' of bars in the old town, and previously host to the nearby Metal Way festivals of days gone by.
Maiden have included a stop in this area for many years, even near by San Sebastián in the early days, which many a local fan is grateful for to this day.
The BEC arena is a short metro ride from the Old Town Metal bars; a good warm up, and post show source of entertainment. The venue is a buzz with excitement, as Bruce's Trooper Ale educates the locals in the ways of proper beer and gives us Brits a break from euro-lager. Although, once close to the stage Basque Kalimoxtro (a pint of cheap red wine and coke) is the order of the day.
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Anthrax are tonight's support. As a fan, this is great news after years of putting up with the direness of Maiden's Pay to Play EMI stablemates.
From the moment they hit the stage it's Greatest Hits Anthrax - 'Caught In A Mosh', 'I Am The Law', 'Anti Social' etc.
Joey's forgotten his headdress for 'Indians' but puts on a fine 'Wardance' all the same! A tribute is made to Malcolm Young from Scott Ian's favourite band - AC/DC, in the form of 'TNT', which has the crowd Oi-ing with gusto! Finally, Joey offers prayers to his Ol' mate Ronnie, and leaves the stage, job done.
The mighty machine of Iron Maiden hit the stage with an almighty charge. A very familiar set list has been tweaked slightly for this tour, but it's still greatest hits Maiden doing what they do best.
Sergeant Major Harris leads his troops into battle, as he struts his bass guitar around the stage, shooting any miscreants. Tonight, 'The Prisoner' rings home for me especially as the words "don't care where my past was, I know where I'm going" seem to fit my current state of mind.
That's the beauty of Sing-Alonga-Maiden, you put your heart and passion into it, and for two hours being down the front of an Iron Fucking Maiden show, pumping your fists in the air, with people who have travelled the world over is the only reality you want.
As Davey dances about and solos beautifully, there may be anarchy in the mosh pit, but everything is going to be alright! Ahh! Yes indeed! Adrian and Janick bounce about the stage, pirouetting and throwing rock shapes. Unseen but fully heard, Nicko makes his presence felt, and even little Sooty is there with him in his arctic parker to combat the icey Seventh Son stage set.
Bruce hams it up with his am-dram antics, adding in banter customised to the local area, promising to come back with a new show next year.
The crowd are in fine vocal form tonight, with the traditional Latin "Ole, Ole, Ole" chants arising whenever there is a chance given.
The venue has a premier golden circle which makes being down the front and having a chance to escape to the bar possible and comfortable. The front row is lined with fan club members who have won their right to be there through the first to the barrier lottery. They spoil their fans, don't they!
Yes, it's the same stage show, Barry Cryer Eddie comes out for Seventh Son, General Custer Eddie sways his sword around unconvincingly before the Seventh Son Eddie, complete with flaming head and red miniman 'heart' makes his entrance when Iron Maiden comes to get us, no matter how far.
Churchill's speech and the roar of the spitfire kick off 'Aces High' and underlines the influence of these icons of British Rock culture.
The following day I spot a kid with a Maiden t-shirt making his way into a Liverpool themed cafe!
The set list has three changes, which has been subject to hot debate on various social platforms.
'Afraid To Shoot Strangers', 'The Clairvoyant' and 'Running Free' are out and in come 'Revelations', 'Wrathchild' and 'Sanctuary'. Although a little lazy with 'Wrathchild' having been hauled out for so many tours, I love 'Sanctuary' and 'Revelations'. It really is a great set in this humble fan's opinion.
So, with a great gig behind us, and news from t'interweb that Bruce is going to be reenacting a WWI dogfight, I can't blooming wait for the homecoming Knebworth gig!