Kate Bush and Metallica are getting the Stranger Things bump press, but when the kids were frantically looking for tunes to save one of their pals, it wasn't Hounds of Love or Master of Puppets that Eddie Munson grabbed. When one girl sifted through a stack of tapes and cried out in vain for "Madonna, Bowie, Blondie, Beatles! Music! We need music!" Eddie held a tape of Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind aloft and proclaimed "This IS muuussicc!" The instantly memeified moment served as the teen's declaration of the music that calls to him.
Now, Iron Maiden is returning that call for all the local Eddie Munsons. The quintessential British heavy metal band brings the Legacy of the Beast World Tour to the Spokane Arena on Friday, Sept. 30. It's the band's first concert in Spokane since 1988, pretty close to the same time when Stranger Things is set.
To put things in perspective, Guns N' Roses opened for Iron Maiden at that '88 show. Back then, I was not quite 9 years old and didn't know a thing about Iron Maiden or Axl Rose. In a way, I am jealous of people who've had Iron Maiden their whole lives, like my own 9-year-old son.
My son and I used to spend hours watching cartoons on YouTube of the band's mascot, Eddie the Head, having crazy sci-fi adventures with the group's songs playing. Sometimes the adventure suited the song, and sometimes it didn't. What matters is that I turned my kid into a metalhead early on. His favorite song and official video are "Speed of Light" from the 2017 Book of Souls album. That's the best thing about a band like Iron Maiden. Their longevity means a person's favorite song can be a newer one, or a track that was still new when they first heard the group.
True to its name, the tour itself has indeed become a beast. Postponed shows from the pandemic era have joined stops such as Spokane that were announced late in the run. During the course of the tour and rescheduling, the band's 17th studio album Senjutsu was released. I'm sure they'll play at least one or two songs from the new samurai-inspired record, but it's always the old stuff we want to hear vocalist Bruce Dickinson belt out. The cartoons by Val Andrade and music videos are fun, but Iron Maiden is one of those bands that has lived and died on touring and subsequent live albums.
There are a handful of widely lauded "best live albums," but when it comes to heavy metal, if Iron Maiden's Live After Death isn't on the list — and likely at the top — I question the writer's judgment. That album was made in 1982 at a show in Long Beach, California. I was born there but have only visited once. Watching my glorious DVD version of the concert brings me closer to a place I should know and don't.
Of course, I've never been to England or Hell, and Iron Maiden makes me feel close to those places, too. I could get into how Iron Maiden, a band whose greatest popularity coincided with the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, is not satanic, but I don't know if you are ready for that. Are you ready for me to point out that Satan (aka The Beast) on Iron Maiden's most famous album Number of the Beast may look like he is pulling the strings of humanity, but above him is Eddie, the real puppeteer? Does that mean Iron Maiden is in charge or that collectively they believe in some sort of higher power? While the band members can choose to claim a faith standpoint or not, the lyrics are filled with people exploring the implications of faith and whether to side with good or evil.
My son — he's 9, remember — doesn't yet get that. He likes the guitars and the cartoony-creepy look of Eddie. There aren't Halloween masks of drummer Nico McBrain or bassist Steve Harris, but most of the album cover versions of Eddie can be found around this time of year, ready to don for trick-or-treating.
There are hundreds — maybe even thousands — of Iron Maiden T-shirt designs to wear year-round. Wear them to school or family reunions. You'll quickly discover who among these groups is cool and who is not.
I'm ready to find out how cool Bruce Dickinson is. Will he sing out, "Scream for me, Spokane!" with the short a, or will he belt it out with a bit of British on the end? "Scream for me, Spo-KANE!"
Either way, that Friday night in the Arena should be one to remember. Break out the denim or leather jacket of your choice, some jeans you can move around in, and — most importantly — don't take any guff from anyone who says heavy metal, and Iron Maiden in particular, isn't music. ♦
Iron Maiden, Trivium • Fri, Sept. 30 at 7:30 pm • $62-$225 • All ages • Spokane Arena • 720 W. Mallon Ave. • spokanearena.com