An Evening With Bruce Dickinson
Bruce Dickinson is the renowned Iron Maiden frontman, and polymath, He has has taken on the daunting task of fitting as much from his ten or so lives into one autobiographical evening. Measured in human time, it’s after tea and before the last train. Exactly how he will verbally traverse a remarkably varied existence over the course of it is daunting.
All pontification is swept away, however, as a short intro film plays. Bruce not so much sets phasers to stun, as sets gums to phase. He launches straight into the topics. Facial hair, Worksop, being an honourary Yorkshireman, private schooling and disdain for authority all feature. He skillfully prevents any sense of fragmentation in recounting his life. He hooks you into yet another anecdote that bursts, Alien-like, out of the chest of the digression from the part of the story. Or specifically of the chapter of the passage of the recollection of the memory he’s just detoured into. All this while recounting, say, a potted history of the different trousers he’s worn on stage.
What Does This button Do?
Mirroring his autobiography What Does This Button Do?, Bruce Dickinson avoids the minutiae. There is no detailing the wallpaper of every vocal recording booth, or the Mongolian Top 40 position of his latest release. Nor do we have or the secret of how blokes like Maiden manage to have better hair than almost any jealous middle-aged woman. Maiden obsessives may be slightly disappointed at how the Maiden juggernaut remains in the background . But then, hasn’t their rich, spellbinding history been told so many times anyway? Why go through the subject of Flight 666 again when we have the eponymous documentary itself to make do with?
Perhaps with exactly this in mind, Maiden alumni pop up in passing or as supporting cast in hilarious and touching anecdotes. Maybe it’s a drunken producer Martin Birch randomly leading Bruce Dickinson to advise Robert Palmer on how to finish an album. Or perhaps an unexpectedly inspiring hair-raising flight with Nicko McBrain. Given that Bruce is usually present and presented as part of the twelve-legged Maiden machine, it makes sense for him to have the stage to himself for once.
The Writing On The Wall
After an airing of the reference-laden video for recent single The Writing on the Wall and a piss-break, he bounds back on. He reads out a large number of the audience-put questions scribbled on supplied pieces of card, holding them like a game show host. This provides a nice interactive element (or cleverly squeezing another hour out of the show). In places he is merrily rabbiting away. On one particular answer-subject he acknowledges sheepishly how his sheer enthusiasm has just given up ten minutes. This would be to say, the finer points of the Boeing 757!
The Q&A goes on to cover all sorts, from the idea of a female Eddie to the order in which Bruce eats his vegetables. This comes via profound reflections on his cancer ordeal a few years ago. (‘Life, simply, is better than any of the alternatives’). Surely not by chance, the final question deals with the ever-present topic in the back of everyone’s minds. Of course this is just how much longer can it all go on for? New album Senjutsu has barely had time to hit the shelves. But the scribbler still asks ‘But will there be one more Maiden album before you all retire?’.
Bruce’s answer sums up his inexhaustible energy and spirit: ‘Who says we’re ever gonna fuckin’ retire?!’
Review: James Stokes