Much to my chagrin, I missed Iron Maiden at Twickenham on Saturday last. I had been supposed to be at ZOO8 Festival and so had written off the idea of going or getting a ticket. However, as most people know, that festival didn’t exactly go to plan and so I ended up not only being free, but actually being in Twickenham, where I could hear the strains of “Two Minutes To Midnight” (“Sing it!”) over the early evening breeze.
It’s well documented that Maiden are one of my favourite bands, certainly my first love musically. They inspire a special kind of devotion (they’re either your favourite band or you’re not really a fan.. seriously). Walking through Twickenham both before and after the gig (I met up with some friends from the gig afterwards, who tortured me by reeling off the killer setlist) I felt pretty immersed in Maiden culture, despite not actually making it into the stadium. And it made me feel better about the world, for once. The great thing about Maiden is that they’ve never been hip; wearing their T-shirts can’t be retro, because there was never an era when that look was cool. They’ve always been outsiders, underdogs, not justout of fashion but consciously against it. So when 55,000 desperately uncool people (mostly men, sure) gather in a stadium wearing T-shirts painted with zombies to shout along to songs about the Crimean War and a prog-rock reworking of poems by Coleridge, I look at NME features on some dreadful bunch of teenagers playing thinly-disguised Jam covers to a few hundred even-younger teenagers somewhere in Shoreditch, and I relax a little.