Thursday, February 5, 2009


by James Edward Raggi IV
(written in late 2007, and presented now as Di'Anno is returning to Finland this month)

Paul Di’Anno came through Vaasa on October 19, 2007, as part of his Finnish tour. I’m sure that I wasn’t alone in going because I wanted to hear Iron Maiden songs.

I thought a lot about Di’Anno’s career before the show. He has a reputation for making a career of recording songs from the first two Iron Maiden albums again and again. His live set was half Maiden songs despite having at least eight non-Maiden studio albums to his credit. The usual feeling expressed is that it’s pretty sad that Di’Anno continues to milk the success of two albums released almost thirty years ago instead of getting on with having a “real” band. The guy doesn’t even have a regular touring band; he uses a local band when touring. On the Finnish tour, that band was Jani Hurula, Jonas Kuhlberg, Joni Lahdenkauppi, and Jani Liimatainen.

I don’t see it as a problem. In fact, I think it’s really awesome.

The truth is the guy could walk in, unannounced, to the rehearsal space of most any heavy metal band in the industrialized world and they’d be able to perform half his set on the spot. They play those damn songs anyway! That has to be one of the most powerful feelings on Earth, knowing songs that you helped write are so highly regarded, so often played, and are still so ubiquitous in a world so often driven by market trends. He has every right to be proud of this, and I hope he sees it this way. We’re so obsessed with new-and-improved and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately that we devalue those who do great things just because they don’t continue to do great things forever more. What a bunch of shit. For one, the non-Maiden songs that were performed were, for the most part, very good. He’s got nothing to be ashamed of in his post-Maiden career. Second, how many times have we all gone to see formerly-favorite bands and have been disappointed that they concentrated on their newer, not as loved, material? We wanted to hear the great stuff, written when the band was hungry and full of fire. Di’Anno plays that kind of set.

The point was proven with his performance. This wasn’t some old fart living off of past glories. This was a vibrant heavy metal performance by a man still possessed by demons and still capable of delivering top-notch singing. Paul Di’Anno sings the Iron Maiden and Killers material better than Bruce Dickinson does. Period. The performance wasn’t flawless, but it was intense. Between his castigating the sound man for the monitor problems he was having, his anti-American rhetoric (very telling for the US’ reputation that a British man would take time in his performance to address a Finnish crowd about this), and that one idiot in the crowd that tried to start a fight with him (I don’t care if he is right around fifty years old, Paul Di’Anno is one man I would never fuck with), there was the atmosphere of danger, that threat that things could get out of control. It brought to my mind speculation about all of the violence at 80s heavy metal shows that I’d always read about. It would really suck to be in that situation, but the perspective that being there would have brought… This show was luckily filled with the dangerous atmosphere, but no actual danger.

I’ve never seen Iron Maiden in concert, and honestly I really don’t want to. High ticket prices, giant arenas, huge stage show… while seeing Dickinson and Harris and the rest perform the songs that have become iconic wouldn’t hurt, I just don’t want to suffer the environment that such performances take place in. Someday, maybe.

But I don’t need to. Not now. Not for the Iron Maiden material that truly inspired generations of metalheads.

1 comment:

Andreas said...

Seen him as well as couple of years ago... nothing but awful, and I disagree with your opinion that he Paul has nothing to be ashamed of in his career after Maiden. Toying with the Pantera-/Biohazard-attitude trendy in the early 90s is one example.
However, it is true that his past glory stands unblemished and has never been aptly reproduced by Maiden, who were a different band after they sacked him. Today, and he will confirm that, he has a lot of personal problems to deal with. Liking what he does now or not, one has to show his respect to him.