By Porter Byers
Most of us know him by his unmistakable voice and energetic presence as the lead singer of Iron Maiden. Many of us also know that he is a pilot, having flown Maiden around on Ed Force One during the Somewhere Back in Time Tour (Iron Maiden: Flight 666 is a must-watch). But few know he also worked as a commercial pilot while in the band. Fewer still are those privy to the unusual tales he has to tell about being a pilot; like one in the middle of a storm with drummer Nicko McBrain and another involving a twist of fate with his RAF WWII veteran grandfather. You would be mistaken to expect only stories of backstage mayhem and airplanes throughout “An Evening with Bruce Dickinson.” The renaissance man weaves Maiden anecdotes into a fascinating and at times humorous show detailing his life as a singer, writer, brewer, podcaster, historian, poet, and a rambunctious schoolboy.
Told mostly in chronological order, Dickinson takes us through his early years, all the way from school in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, to being shipped off to public [private] school, to joining the chaotic metal band, Samson. To avoid spoilers, take my word for it that whimsical and raunchy details are dotted along the journey. The show was not without heartwarming moments about family, friendship, and – no spoilers here – surviving cancer.
Dickinson moved about the stage with ease, excitedly engaging the audience and even trying his hand at a few jokes on current events. The audience was treated to the music video for Senjustu’s “Writing on the Wall” (“in Dolby sound!”) before a brief intermission featuring Dickinson’s solo work on the PA. Before the show, submission boxes in the lobby of the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. were filled with question cards for the Q&A segment. When Dickinson returned to the stage, he spent roughly an hour answering questions, which frequently led to amusing tangents. The lengthier answers were so detailed, I found myself wondering whether some of them were rehearsed. Surely, the questions were curated backstage during the show, but only someone living an extraordinary life could give real, off-the-cuff responses. Dickinson concluded with an acapella verse from his song, “Jerusalem.”
This foray into a one-man performance is coming to a close, and only a few select dates remain in Canada, which I highly recommend to our dozens of Canadian readers. Whether you are a fan of Iron Maiden, history, aviation, or just captivating autobiographies, one can hope that Dickinson will continue to bring his stories to the stage.
Most importantly: A friendly reminder that Maiden is hitting the road in May and their Legacy of the Beast tour returns to the U.S. this fall.