CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "We're going where?"
I cringed when I heard my voice raise a few octaves on "where," betraying that budding panic I was hoping to hide upon learning my boyfriend purchased concert tickets for us.
Those tickets -- they weren't to an ordinary concert. Oh, no. This was for heavy metal.
Perhaps the heaviest of metal.
I was aware of Didier's fandom, that he'd previously attended a number of concerts, had a collection of their music and assorted Maiden garb, knew most every word to most every song. Could recite random facts on the band faster than Google.
But me? At a metal concert? Of a band whose name came from a medieval torture device? I mean, my personal music collection includes the likes of Patsy Cline, Sinatra and the Carpenters. The closest I've come to hard rock was ABBA. And the last concert I attended? It involved a bear in a Big Blue House. (That actually sounds kind of trippy, but the bear was a Muppet creator's creation.)
I worried this would be the ultimate fish-out-of-water scenario.
Years ago, the Gazette writer/editor Doug Imbrogno told me I shouldn't be afraid to step outside of my comfort zone every now and then. He said I'd find meatier stories and would feel more alive. Thing is, I'm not an adventurous person. I'm cautious and conservative and quiet, and a heavy metal concert was so far out of my zone there was a time difference involved.
Even though Iron Maiden has been around since the late '70s, I knew little about them, yet had preconceived notions of what they were like. I was judgmental, discounting the group because of their zombielike mascot and long-haired band members and somewhat melodramatic titles and album covers. But the more I learned, the more impressed I became.
Their music is intricate and the lyrics are shockingly intelligent. Instead of the usual love songs or anti-authority themes that stir teen angst like other bands, Maiden's music focuses on history, mythology and religion. One of their most famous songs is a 14-minute piece based on a Samuel T. Coleridge poem, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." There's a song about Alexander the Great, another that tells a story of a soldier involved in the Battle of the Somme, and one about an elderly couple preparing their house for Armageddon.