||MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
Waldbühne Amphitheatre, Berlin
31st May 2016
Mark Taylor: Photos by Riyochi Kato
Ed Force One landed in Berlin and Iron Maiden performed a spectacular gig at the historic Waldbühne Amphitheatre which in the words of Bruce Dickinson himself, "has classic written all over it."
At the request of Joseph Goebbels, the Waldbühne Amphitheatre was built by Werner Mach and was completed in 1936 to coincide with the Olympics which were held that year. The Olympic Stadium is just a javelin throw away and it was there that Jesse Owens proved to Adolf Hitler that there was no superior race.
There's a road leading to the Waldbühne named after the great black American runner.
The entrance to the grounds of the Waldbühne are flanked by two sculpture reliefs of athletic men and women representing the Fatherland.
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The Waldbühne Amphitheatre itself is an awe inspiring magnificent site which simply takes your breath away. Built to emulate an Ancient Greek theatre, the venue holds over 22,000 people.
No matter where you chose to watch the gig, you were guaranteed a bird's eye view and another thing our German cousins are good at is providing value for money. Unlike UK venues, for example Wembley Arena where you can line your stomachs with tasteless hotdogs or rubber burgers, here you can treat yourself to a high quality meaty brätwurst in a crusty roll for half the price. Various alcoholic drinks are available too and MetalTalk's John Oakley and I opted for a jug of cocktails each.... Prost!
Support was supplied by The Raven Age and Swedish spooksters Ghost. The Raven Age have got the gig with a little help of nepotism thanks to guitarist George Harris having Maiden blood in him, which hasn't exactly catapulted the careers of Rise To Remain and Lauren Harris into the stratosphere in the past, however the Harlow outfit impressed many with their post-Emo melodic metal.
Ghost however, despite being one of the best and most exciting new bands to have emerged in recent years fail to really express themselves in broad daylight. Their sinister ghoulish look gets totally lost when the sun is out, like Dracula who needs to hide in his coffin when the sun is out, Ghost are more frighteningly good when they're brought out at nighttime. Today they looked like fancy dress party goers on their way home after a Helloween party.
The roar is deafening as UFO's 'Doctor Doctor' is played over the PA, signalling the entrance of Iron Maiden.
The stage is themed in a Mayan landscape complete with ancient buildings for Bruce Dickinson to run amok in.
The show starts with the energetic vocalist standing over a smoking cauldron as he belts out the opening words to 'If Eternity Should Fail'. Below him is drummer Nicko McBrain surrounded by an arsenal of bongoes and he's hitting the drums so heavily like he's actually using the human bones from that cauldron as drumsticks.
Out front is the guitar onslaught of a grinning Dave Murray, a focused Adrian Smith, a show-boating Janick Gers and the guv'nor Steve Harris leading his troopers through an attack of march or die. The result is victorious.
Maiden's sixteenth studio album 'The Book Of Souls' is their fifth number one album at home so you can't blame them for wanting to include six tracks from it in the set which means some classics don't make the grade, however 'Speed Of Light', 'The Red And The Black' and the monkeying antics of 'Death Or Glory' give Maiden fans plenty to cheer about.
Voices are raised the highest though for 'The Trooper' with Bruce waving the battered Union Jack while 'Powerslave' is brutal and 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' sends the amphitheatre into overdrive.
Bruce is like Tarzan with a voice to match, leaping all around the stage. His recent health scare is a distant memory now as he rips the heart out of Eddie and throws it's bloody remains into the crowd.
'Fear Of The Dark' is a long standing staple of the Maiden set now and it gives the band a chance to breathe and the dedicated fans to let their voices be heard.
'The Number Of The Beast' is the first of the encores, a classic that must be played and 'Blood Brothers' unifies all present but the real message is in 'Wasted Years' with the lyrics of:
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years,
Face up, make your stand,
And realize you're living in the golden years."
Another most memorable gig from the giants of Metal. Realise that we are in fact living in the golden years and catch them while you can because Iron Maiden's gonna get you, no matter how far.