This was absolutely not the kind of metal I'd expected.
The detail that won my heart, however, is an odd one. It's that the band's lead singer, Bruce Dickenson, pilots the 757 the band uses to travel from city to city around the world when they tour. This isn't a little dink plane that seats a half dozen or so, but a full-on 757 large enough to carry the band, their crew and all their equipment. Dickenson even wears a standard-issue pilot's uniform when he flies.
These aren't young kids in the band either. Dickenson, like the other members, is in his late 50s. Yet he invested the hundreds of hours necessary to get his commercial airline pilot's license.
By the day of the concert, I was fairly well versed on the band and its members. I'd listened to most of their songs, some multiple times. Had my quirky Maiden outfit ready to go. My earplugs at the ready, just in case.
We arrived in Nashville, where the concert was held and met up with Didier's daughter, Hunter, and her boyfriend, Daniel, and then walked over to the arena. We stood waiting for an hour or so in a sea of people so vastly ranging in age and appearance it didn't seem possible they could all be there for the same entertainment. There was everyone from the wild-haired and heavily tattooed rocker types I'd expected, to office-worker types. Ordinary folks. Grandparents. Teenagers. A few children.
Still, I grew a bit anxious after we went inside and found our spot on the floor, which was astonishingly close to the stage. I worried that once the music started, everyone would push forward and we'd be smashed together, that bodies would be passed overhead, that there'd be screaming and groping and the like.
Not at all. The entire audience seemed captivated from the moment Maiden took the stage. While there was a good bit of dancing and jumping and hand waving, the audience was far better behaved than that last I was in, when I saw the bear.
The performance was phenomenal. I was blown away by the range of Dickenson's voice, how he could race all over the stage with this crazy, boundless energy and yet never sound winded. I loved the skill and charisma of the guitarists. And that adorable drummer, Nicko, who never stopped smiling and seemed to be having more fun than most any performer I'd ever seen.
I had such a great time. Left the arena charged up and grinning like an idiot. And thinking my friend Imbrogno was right about that whole comfort-zone business. Maybe even more than I'd originally thought.
That maybe life begins where the comfort zone ends.
Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinful...@gmail.com.