This was my first Maiden gig of 2011 (July 6th), and I had decided to go with a hit-and-run tactic; as I am not overly interested in seeing the sights in Oslo. I flew in the day of the gig (and back the next day); my plane left TOS at 06:45 and landed at OSL 08:25. We made excellent time to OSL, cutting almost 20 minutes off the scheduled arrival time – but that left us with nowhere to park the aircraft, so no time was gained – we just ended up sitting on the tarmac for 20 minutes waiting for a parking space to open up.
I train’ed and buss’ed my way to Lysaker, and found my hotel conveniently located near the arena. Some troubles checking in as the card I’d paid for the room with had since expired, and this seemed to boggle the mind of the girl in reception. She seemed totally unaware that debit (and credit) cards come with an expiration date, and sometimes people book a few months ahead. Having sorted that out I found my room and crawled into bed to get some sleep as I’d been up since 04:30. I didn’t really get any sleep due to the extreme amounts of adrenaline and other happy and impatient chemicals that rushed throughout my body and brain.
Most of my crazy-brain revolved around the big question. Not the one about life, the universe and everything, but the one about whether we’d get FTTB or not. (FTTB = First To The Barrier; the Iron Maiden Fan Club draw 60 lucky winners who already have floor tickets, and let them and a friend each into the arena before everyone else.)
Neither me nor my concert buddy Endre had won FTTB, but we knew there were people who had won who couldn’t make it to the gig… So there was a slight chance…
I was feeling a bit off as I made my way up to Telenor Arena at around 15:30… I guess I was tired, worried I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get FTTB; and also a bit nervous of how my knees would hold up standing for so long. But, as I exited the hotel someone in the outdoor restaurant area was playing AMOLAD, and that made me realize what I was there for… MAIDEN! Doesn’t matter where you stand or how much it hurts… It’s fuckin’ Maiden!
There were teenagers littered everywhere around the arena. I’m quite baffled at the older-to-younger fans ratio; where do these kids come from? And where are the people our age hiding? I found Endre at the merch stand (where else?), and I got the Nordic event shirt and a girly shirt. We then proceeded to dump our loot in Endre’s car, and went back to stand in line for general admittance. The plan was that I’d stay in line for GA; and Endre would check out if we could get FTTB bracelets, and then text me if we did… If not he’d jump back in GA line with me. However, that was not how things would transpire… FTTB meetup was scheduled to be at 17:00, and to be let in 17:45… I stood in the GA line, waiting impatiently, the clock ticked nearer and nearer 1745, and all I got was texts saying “nothing happening yet” – so I decided to go all in and just let my good place in the GA line go, and head over to the FTTB meetup… The pros outweighed the cons, even if the odds were about 50/50.
When the FTTB handout started I decided not to even watch, so I sat on the curb with my back turned and thought “I friggin deserve this”. I had FTTB in Italy last year that didn’t work because the Italian police opened the GA doors before the Fan Club/Bruce Air bus got to the arena, and I’ve also got massive Maiden-karma plus point due to having given away several tickets I’ve not been able to use to Fan Club member for free. My luck is usually not the best; so I expected the worst — and could hardly believe my eyes when Endre showed up with two acid green FTTB bracelets and a massive grin on his face! We were gonna see Maiden from the barrier! I called BFF Camilla to scream with joy at her; but as she didn’t pick up I called my mum and joyfully screamed at her instead.
I think it was about 1800 when we were let in, via a back entrance…. Walked past all the trucks that drive the gear around, and we were filmed by IMTV. We had to wait a little for soundcheck to complete before we got to make a run for it. Endre had asked which side I wanted, and I’d said “Adrian” – so that’s where we headed – (“Walk, don’t run!” yeah right…) – grabbing onto the cold metal barrier was an epic epic feeling.
empty Telenor Arena
happy with my FTTB
We got to sit down for about 10 minutes before the GA crowd were let in, and I enjoyed their puzzled faces as they came running in, wondering why the hell there were 120 people already in. A guy grabbed rail next to me and explained he’d been in line all day to get barrier. I never caught his name, so lets call him West Ham Maiden Football Shirt Guy – or just WHMFSG for short. He asked how we’d gotten in, and we showed our bracelets and explained that we are the cool people. He got that it was a joke.
So, there we stood for a longish time chatting, I have no idea what about, cannot remember a thing, but we kept ourselves entertained, and it was good to get to know WHMFSG for reasons I’ll explain later.
pit filling up, still happy happy happy!
Alice Cooper was the warmup. I had initially been a little disappointed that Rise to Remain didn’t warm up in Scandinavia as they did in continental Europe; but mr Cooper delivered one hell of a fun show. He really goes all out on costumes and props… I’ve never seen anyone bring a box of props out on stage with them before; or get beheaded in the middle of their set. There was confetti exploding all over the place and feathers floating from the ceiling, and those huge balloons for the crowd to bounce around. Good times! Mr Alice’s guitarist, Damon Johnson, bent down and threw a pick at me; but naughty Endre grabbed it infront of my nose. I’m okay with that tho.
Coop & crew
As the crowd on the floor decided they all wanted to get closer to the stage in preparation for Maiden, we started getting a little squashed. A girl behind me was apparently not expecting this, and kept apologizing for bumping into us, explaining that it wasn’t she who was pushing, other people were pushing her..! I told her “we understand”, and “we get it”, “it’s okay” about 20 times. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all, she had quite a large chest and I’d rather be crushed by boobs than some scrawny guys rib cage any day.
I realize this is getting rather long, so I won’t rant at the terrible inefficient effort by security to hydrate the people at the barrier. Walking around with two cups of water, giving every third person one sip is not good enough! (Not to mention unhygienic!) It did get better during Maidens set; even though a lot got dumped down my shirt as well.
So… Finally Doctor Doctor started playing and the crowd went nuts. We got smashed into the barrier; and as my camera was in my trouser pocket at the time there was no way to get it up, so no pictures of my own of the boys from the barrier. The lights went down and Satellite 15 started playing… and after a long two and a half minutes the boys jumped out on stage and launched into The Final Frontier.
Being so close was freaking unbelievable. Dave spent most of his time right infront of us, being smiley Davey as usual, showing off his mad guitar skillz. Adrian spent some time by us as well, when he didn’t have to use his mic stand. Brucey unfortunately spent most of his time center stage or to the right — but he came over to us a few times; t’was amazing to be so close to Brucey again, even though it was not as close as at Trieste Airport.
Coming Home was a slight let down; they seem to play it a little faster live than the album version. It didn’t feel like a love-song-about-a-plane as I like to describe it, it felt more like a song-about-a-plane… There was some emotion missing, or maybe some passion replaced with arrghhhh… I dunno. The guitar solos were as beautiful anyway. I closed my eyes enjoying Adrians solo, and when I opened them again Adrian was right infront of us smiling — not sure that he was smiling at me; but still pretty cool. Steve came over our way several times during the gig; and looked me straight in the eye making me forget the words to whatever it was we were singing at the time.
Dave & Steve. Pic taken from rougly our point of view
The crowd got pushier and pushier, and it was a real struggle to hang on to our places. I would have been completely lost without Endre and WHMFSG helping me out. I had expected to get squashed from the back, but I guess I didn’t except the people behind would be trying to squeeze into the non-existing space between people on the barrier. Most of the time I had to hold on with at least one hand, and at one point I lost my balance a bit, and when I regained it the space where my left foot was supposed to be was now occupied — and there was nowhere for my foot to go. WHMFSG somehow altered his stance and made some space for my foot; I was totally panicking that I’d just keel over and get pulled out by security. Happily, and thanks to WHMFSG I got to stay on for more…
Dance of Death
Bruce from roughly our point of view
is such a fun live song; the melodic quality has something about it that I can’t explain that works better live than on album — I never appreciated it fully until I heard it live. Also Brucey
with his theatrics is hilarious on that tune. The Trooper
kicked off the slight percentage of the crowd who came to see “classics”
, and The Wicker Man
kicked serious butt as usual. Blood Brothers
was beautiful, and WTWWB
quite an experience live. It was fun to hear The Evil that Men Do
and 2 Minutes to Midnight
live for the first time; and it is always a pleasure to sing the guitar parts on Fear of the Dark
It all went by too quickly. Suddenly they launched into Iron Maiden, and big Eddie popped his head up from behind the stage set. I hadn’t brought anything to get the guys attention as I didn’t want to jinx the FTTB… I was wondering what to do to get some attention… I had of course brought my boobs; I don’t leave the house without ‘em — but I am too old to expose myself at concerts. So I figured – wristbands! We all want to grab one of the wristbands the guys throw out after the gig; so why don’t I do like the footballers do with the exchanging of the jerseys post-match — I’ll throw my wristbands to the guys; and maybe that’ll get me one in return. So I flung my wristband at Adrian — he saw it, looked puzzled, and then looked at me, laughed and gave me a thumbs up. Well worth it, even if he didn’t toss one of his back.
The encore wooshed past; the beanie went to the right stage side, and suddenly the lights where on and Always Look on the Bright Side of Life came on… The crowd dispersed, and realizing my knees kinda worked we made our way out of the arena, peering floor-wards for any stray guitar picks. None found.
post gig hyper crazy eyes!
I got my merch out of Endre’s car and somehow wobbled back to the hotel, completely drenched in my own and other peoples sweat + stray water and maybe other beverages but hopefully no other bodily fluids. Had a shower and went to bed happier than I’ve ever been, with maybe the exception of last year after Bruce Air…
As always I’m sad I can’t do the pre-gig meetups and socializing with the hard core of the IMOC; but my body doesn’t work 24/7, I got about 5-7 good hours and those need to be spent at the gig, not before…
Looking for picks. WHMFSG on the left...
Stage post gig
look! the back of my head with a few specs of confetti made it into a online paper!