An Evening with Bruce Dickinson in Boston, MA – February 5, 2022
Bruce Dickinson, frontman for the legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden, is currently on a North American spoken word tour. Ever the storyteller, he shares tales from his life story, many of which you can find in his autobiography, What Does this Button do? When performing with one of the largest metal bands of all time, Bruce no doubt knows how to captivate an audience, but do those skills translate into entertaining them through conversation?
Yes, it turns out, it does.
Bruce told us highlights of his life, starting with his childhood, all the way up until his recent battle with tongue cancer. When discussing his childhood, he shared many stories about his time in an English boarding school, which he only got into because his Aunt was the lunch lady. This school was where you would find all sorts of members of English high society and politics. “I learned there that politics is like rock ‘n roll for ugly people,” specifically calling out Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the type of person you would have found there.
He told the tale of how he pretended he couldn’t sing in key, so he wouldn’t waste his days away in choir. This earned him a “Certificate of Non-Singing.” As he heard his first Deep Purple record, he realized music was what he wanted to do. He wanted to be… a drummer. He spoke of how he’s always been so energetic, and that “drumming is like tourettes for the soul.”
We heard how he and schoolmates determined he should be a singer, and the progression of his first bands, up until Samson asked him to join. He shared stories of his time with that band, and how he ultimately ended up in Iron Maiden.
He often had relevant photos on the screen. One early Iron Maiden photo he referred to as the “fruit and vegetable lineup shot.” If you’ve ever seen the spandex bands wore in the 80’s, you know what he means. He said at the time, they never imagined a thing like HD would exist, so the photo wasn’t as revealing as it is now.
Bruce has always been somebody whose stage performance was intended for the person sitting in the back row, that is, he makes big hand gestures and movements. That was equally true tonight, as he demonstrated things such as catching his children being born, and a story of a Soviet security guard in Maiden’s hotel room that will haunt him to this day.
After about two hours, he took a short break. With Iron Maiden’s recently released album, Senjutsu, the lead track, “the Writing on the Wall,” had a cinematic music video animated for it. They had intended for this to be screened in theaters, but Covid killed the chances of that at the time. To make up for it, they played it for us as he left the stage, with full Dolby sound to get the full effect of it.
When we entered the building tonight, there was a table with cards where you could ask Bruce a question. During his break, he reviewed these cards, and came back out for another 45 minutes, answering the audience questions. This covered anything from favorite beers or Monty Python skits, up to questions about his career as a pilot, or lasting effects from his tongue cancer.
As it came to an end, the final question he answered was “How about a chorus of “Tears of the Dragon?” I’ll be honest, back in high school, I was introduced to this song off of Bruce’s 1994 solo album Balls to Picasso before I was ever introduced to an Iron Maiden song. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Bruce perform with his solo band, though, so I’ve never heard this song live (although I may have performed it with bands in high school a few times). While this wasn’t a full band performance of the song, hearing him sing the chorus a capella was a real treat for me. A song he first recorded when he was 36, and now he’s 63, but he sounds as great as ever.
If you’re an Iron Maiden fan, this tour is not to be missed. But even if you’re not, you will likely find Bruce’s story telling to be an enjoyable night out.
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