Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Live review: Paul Di'Anno at James Rockbar, Halmstad, Sweden

Soooooo... how did it all come to this? The original voice of Iron Maiden, the greatest and biggest heavy metal band ever emerged, coming to Sweden, 34 years after he got kicked out of the band, for a 4 day, 4 stop mini tour where the main set list consisted of the two albums he contributed with? The metal gods sure work in strange ways, but it is safe to say that Paul Di'Anno has not had it easy since he was replaced by Bruce Dickinson. He has done a series of different project, without any real success, which has almost forced him to live on that he was a part of Maiden's two first albums ("Iron Maiden" and "Killers").

So I had no expectations at all going into the show in James Rockbar, Halmstad, a show that would not have happened if not the HFL festival in Motala canceled out. No matter what, I was ready for a night with some old school Maiden tunes, probably the last time he would ever perform these gems. But first, the opening act.

Opening act: Revelations

Opening up for Paul is the Stockholm band Revelations, who plays classic 70's heavy metal, of course heavily inspired by such bands as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden (huh, what a coincidence).

They played around 6 or 7 songs during the 40 minutes they were on stage, and it was a fairly solid set that may have started out a little cautious, but improved more as the show went on. Since I have not heard of the band before, it was also the first time I heard the songs, and it was the darker, heavier songs that got to me the most. Especially Sun of Morning and Grip of Darkness impressed me a lot with their dark atmosphere and hypnotizing musicality. Definitely got me interested in what else the band could do.

The band itself did a great job, squeezing the most out of the few that dared to step towards the stage (est. 30 people). I especially liked the singer, Lasse Gudmundsson, who not only did look like a rock star, but sang as one as well. His voice is kind of a mix between Joacim Cans and Rob Halford, which for me spells instant success.

The band did an overall nice job, but since they were opening up the night, they did not play for such a big audience, which is a shame since they deserved more. Oh well, the band is working on their debut record, which should be out soon enough, and you can be sure that I will listen to it whenever it comes. If all of the songs performed this night is in that album, then I am sure it will be a nice listen.

Best: "Grip of Darkness" and "Sun of Morning"

Worst: The band deserved a bigger crowd

Rating: 7,5/10

Set list (not necessarily in this order):
Grip of Darkness
Strange Dreams
Sun of Morning
Time Bomb (think it was called that, idk)
+ 1 or 2 more songs

Main act: Paul Di'Anno

Let me first tell you about the beginning of this night, the 25th of July 2015. Some time before Revelations even started, I was at the bar, having a beer when this peculiar short, sort of fat and bald fellow came into the building, walking on crutches slowly across the floor. I was just thinking "who is that guy? How is he gonna get through the night?" when it suddenly occurred to me. That short, sort of fat and bald dude was Paul Di'Anno himself! Yep, you read that correctly.

And if it was not obvious that he was hurt before, it got crystal clear when he entered the stage, barely making it over 3 steps of stairs, and slowly walking to a chair that was placed in the center. Apparently, he was suffering from a bad knee or something and was waiting for surgery back in England, but instead of sitting home and, in his own words, watch TV and scratch his balls, he might as well be out touring. Should once again be noted that this was the last stop of a 4 day, 4 show tour. That is freaking nuts, the man was in serious pain and he still got up there, ready to deliver a show. Respect!

The beast arises... slowly
Anyway, not surprisingly, the whole set list was focused on the only thing we remember Paul Di'Anno from, his contribution in the two first Iron Maiden albums. All the hits was played during the evening by Paul and his supporting band (couldn't remember what they were called, but they were from Norway), everything from the instrumentals "Genghis Khan" and "Transylvania", the blood pumping "Running Free", and the amazing and versatile "Phantom of The Opera". Only two songs from Paul's career after Maiden was represented in the set list, and both "The Beast Arises" and "Children of Madness" was received mildly by the close to half full local (est. 200 people perhaps). It was clear that the audience wanted Maiden tunes, and nothing else.

The only song that was left out was, a little surprisingly, "Iron Maiden". The excellent punk attack would have been the perfect way to finish the show, but instead, the ending of the show was more or less a cover medley. Starting with the Ramones classic "Blitzkrieg Bop" and some Sex Pistols song I did not recognize (it was definitely not "Anarchy In The U.K."), it really started to go down hill from there, but the ending was saved with two Judas Priest classics, "You've Got Another Thing Coming" and "Breaking The Law". The crowd seemed okay with it and sang loudly together with Paul. Still, feels dumb to make other musicians songs as your grand finale.

But how did Paul perform? Well, I hate to say this, but it is obvious that he is on the final stretch of his career. I barely heard his voice throughout the concert, and the few times I did hear him, he did not sing all too well. It was obvious that he was exhausted and tired, but I still want to give him kudos for sticking it all the way through, wanting to give the people a show. His small talk was great, not giving any fucks over dicks on the dance floor or about whiny pop stars that cancel shows for a common cold.

Who said you have to stand up to rock?
Understandingly, there was no encore, Paul had given his all throughout the around 1 and a half hour show that went on to about 2 am. He got himself some much needed rest, and I really hope that he gets better soon. If he does not, then how the hell is he gonna handle his new musical project Architects of Chaoz? No matter what, this evening was memorable for a lot of reasons, but the thing that probably will stick with me the most is the man's fighting spirit, his drive to give the metal heads in Halmstad a great show. Yes, the show had flaws, but the upsides of it definitely outweighs the downsides. So thank you Paul Di'Anno, for coming here and playing for us, and not sitting in front of your TV, scratching your balls.

Best: "Phantom of The Opera"

Worst: What's with that big cover medley as the big finale?

Rating: 8/10

Set list (all Iron Maiden songs except noted):
The Ides of March
Murders In The Rue Morgue
The Beast Arises (Killers song)
Children of Madness (Paul Di'Anno's Battlezone song)
Genghis Khan
Phantom of The Opera
Charlotte The Harlot
Running Free
Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
some Sex Pistols song
You've Got Another Thing Coming (Judas Priest cover)
Breaking The Law (Judas Priest cover)

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