London Earls Court Arena

...oh no here comes the old skool meddle noodlewank guitar bit YAAAAAAAAAWN!

It’s that bit at the end of [I]Jurassic Park [/I]where the lean, mean killing-machine velociraptors ([a]Slayer[/a]) rip the fat’n’lumbering bloated ole Tyrannosaurus Rex (the Maiden) 87 noo assholes, dude. Except that’s not what happened – T Rex mashed up the ‘raptors big time, remember? And anyway, [a]Slayer[/a] sucked.

Once upon a time [a]Slayer[/a] were considered the razor-sharp cutting edge of the exciting new ‘frash meddle’ phenom. And then Napalm Death came along and made them look fat, old and stupid. So here they are, strutting like matt-black satanic peacocks in front of huge banks of stacked Marshall amps. Testosterone, arrogance, faux-mateyness (please like us, please buy our records, you unmitigated scum) and the same old (grindy bit, jerky bit, oh no here comes the old skool meddle noodlewank guitar bit YAAAAAAAAAWN!) pseudo-radical Napalm-lite bollocks. [a]Slayer[/a] are a cockroach preserved in amber. But the crowd – and we are talking farsands and farsands of hairy, lairy, horny-handed, spandex-assed testosterone-overdosed mucho-macho wannabe alpha-male full-on no-fackin’-abart hevvy meddle bastards – loved them.

Bit of ooky-spooky bought-by-the-yard Hammer Horror ersatz-Gregorian ‘devil’ muzak! Spotlight on hairy geezer wif geetar! BOOMF! Sparks! Loud noises! And here comes Fred Flinstone-style-lantern-jawed, white-pumped and ultra-tight-trousered Maiden vocal-chore handler Bruce Dickinson! He fences you know, and he’s the author of a comic novel called [I]Lord Iffy Boatrace[/I], and now, for the first time in years, he’s back doing his proper job which is running around like a mad gorilla, singing and being brutishly charismatic. Oh hang on, he’s going to grab those handles and fly across the stage on a wire. Except he’s missed. Now he’s screaming at the crew. Top laugh!

The Maiden played ‘Brave New World’ and ‘The Wicker Man’ but they didn’t play ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ or ‘Wuthering Heights’ or that one that goes, “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one they said/But still – they come!” because them’s not their songs – but you get the picture.

Seeing a Maiden show is like watching a Lloyd Webber musical about these ever-so slightly effeminate Vikings who fall through a wormhole in the space-time continuum into a post-apocalyptic future where they capture a giant ape and teach it to sing and dance. And, like Lord Webber‘s output, the Maiden‘s repertoire is thunderingly pompous, ridiculously overblown but ultimately nice, safe and ever so suburban. My Life Story, Babybird and Belle & Sebastian should have been sat in the front row to learn that you [I]can [/I]write nice songs [I]and [/I]rock like a muddyfaker. And – Maiden – time for a new stylist and choreographer, puh-leeeeeease!

But you can’t beat a good chewn. Or a wank. And tonight we had steaming bucketfuls of both. And it was great.