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Bruce Dickinson

Artists: Bruce Dickinson, Black Smoke Trigger

Venue: Nottingham, Rock City

Date: 23rd May 2024


"As I said, I was very impressed with tonight’s show, and personally I have always thought that Bruce Dickinson’s voice always sounds better in the live arena, which was very ably demonstrated tonight."


 

All photos © Andy B
All photos © Andy B

One thing I have to mention first is the fact I noticed walking in, that the cost of a tour t-shirt was £40, and on top of the ticket, transport and parking etc I think it is getting a little silly now. There ya go, moan over.


I think I read somewhere that this tour was Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s first solo tour for around twenty years. I had only seen him perform with Maiden, so wasn’t sure what to expect on a much smaller scale, but I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be doing his legendary leaps onto the stage at the beginning.

Before we discovered all that however, we had a support band to see, namely Black Smoke Trigger; a strange name, and one which I assume very few of us have heard before. We’ve all got to start somewhere, but I suppose a supporting slot for Bruce Dickinson is a fairly good place. At least, you’re going to get seen. A four-piece from New Zealand would you believe, they were, to put it succinctly, pretty good. Of the seven songs they did, all but one have been released on their E.P. ‘Set It Off’ or as singles; they have yet to release their debut album. The opening number ‘The Way I’m Wired’ actually featured Ex- Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars on guitar on the single. In the time they had, they squeezed in seven songs, none of which were lacklustre or boring, all having tight riffs and not too complicated (and therefore fairly easy to stick in your mind and recall) choruses. And from New Zealand would you believe? (Go on, name me another!). I do recall vocalist Baldrick (no, honestly) mentioning an album, or new single, but if it was the single, titled ‘Learn To Crawl’, for some reason they didn’t play it, which I thought a bit odd really. They had the crowd on their side fairly early on, and I would imagine at the end, they were pretty happy with what they achieved. Having checked them out on t’internet, I would have liked them to do ‘You Can Have It All’, because I really like the song, and not just because there’s a barely clothed young lady in the video. Although she is quite likeable, to be fair.


A couple of things I would comment on however is that where we were, on the raised area to the left of the stage, the vocals were quite muffled, and we couldn’t discern the words. Whether that was a mixing problem or just how it was in that position on the night I don’t know, but it was a bit of a shame. Also, they would probably sound better live if their sound was augmented by a rhythm guitarist or keyboard player, as the bottom tended to fall out of it a bit when the guitarist was doing the lead breaks. Just my opinion, but that’s what this is here for. Still, I think they will have made new friends tonight, and will attract an audience the next time we see them.


Set-List


 

Gallery: All photos © Andy B. (used with kind permission)

 

So, on to Bruce, and the legendary leap. I was right of course, he didn’t do that, but I have to say that I was probably more impressed by this show than all the mega-staged and overblown presentations that normally go on around him, and the place was, of course, packed. For a guy who is the same age as myself, I was aghast at how energetic he still manages to be, never standing still, running here and there; OK, he hadn’t far to run, without losing breath or, and this was quite impressive too, never failing to hit the notes of the songs he was singing. No costume changes or anything like that, he came on in a ‘Mandrake Project’ monogrammed beanie and t-shirt, denim jacket and jeans. If I had passed him in the street I probably wouldn’t have recognised him. On stage and with a microphone though, it couldn’t have been anyone else. Right from the start with ‘Accident Of Birth’, the crowd was singing along with him, something which continued throughout the night. He raised his hands, they raised theirs, he clapped with the beat, they clapped; total control.


And the confidence of the man in his own music was demonstrated by the fact that Iron Maiden material was completely absent from the night’s proceedings, but then why would he need it with seven albums of his own music to choose from? Having said that, he dipped into five, with the highest number of tracks coming from ‘Chemical Wedding’, and four from ‘Mandrake Project’, which is the one I thought we would get the most from. There was also the cover of the Edgar Winter Band’s ‘Frankenstein’ which featured a drum solo from Dave Moreno, as well as Mr Dickinson’s accompaniment on toms and Theramin. It wouldn’t have mattered what he did as the sold-out venue would have been happy with it. His sense of humour was displayed between songs, telling us the story behind ‘Many Doors To Hell’ while feigning terror every time the acoustic 12-string guitar came out. ‘Dark Side Of Aquarius’ ended the main set and the crowd started to jump up and down with this, but quickly realised that there was really no room to do so, and it ended quite quickly. He explained at the end that at this point they normally walked off, but the venue was such that, by the time they arrived at the dressing room, it would be time to come back, so they were staying on and the audience would have to imagine they had gone off. He then turned, said “That’s it, we’re back”, at which the crowd roared. There was a three song encore, at the end of which Dickinson sacrificed the beanie he had worn all the way through the set to the crowd, only it didn’t quite go as planned as it caught in the lighting gantry and stayed there.


As I said, I was very impressed with tonight’s show, and personally I have always thought that Bruce Dickinson’s voice always sounds better in the live arena, which was very ably demonstrated tonight.


Set-List


 

Gallery: All photos © Andy B. (used with kind permission)

 

Review: Andy B./Lou C Photos: Andy B.

 

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