Today i watched, once again, the documentary "Iron Maiden: Flight 666" A film i first saw about a year ago.
On first viewing i have to say i was very impressed and watching a second time around has just re-inforced that feeling.
I am a big music fan and especially a fan of Rock music. So, a film about Iron Maiden, one of Rock musics biggest bands, was bound to attract me.
I must admit though that Iron Maiden are not my favourite band. I actually find a lot of their music quite samey and repetitive. But, i have always had a lot of respect for them, both as a band and as a group of musicians.
And this documentary shows exactly why that is.
Iron Maiden grew out of what was then called the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). A movement that started towards the end of the 1970's and spawned bands such as Def Leppard, Saxon and Motorhead and also helped inspire later bands such as Metallica and Guns N Roses.
Yes, it was a re-emergence of Rock music, but the NWOBHM took a lot of its inspiration from the Punk Rock bands of the mid 1970's. These NWOBHM bands would probably never have come about without the Punk Rock movement that had gone before.
The Punk movement showed these young British Heavy Metal and Rock music fans that they too could go out and form their own bands, produce their own music and even start their own record labels.
It also furnished them with a different attitude to many heavy metal bands that had gone before them. An attitude and approach which helped enable these new bands to break through to bigger and better things. Something that might not have been possible in the past.
Iron Maiden probably exemplify this as well as any of those other bands i mentioned earlier and that still shines through today.
Somebody in the film states that Iron Maiden don't give a fuck what others think about them. They are not trying to impress anyone, they are just being thenselves and remaining true to themselves.
This is one of the reasons that Flight 666 is such a good watch.
What you see in the film are a band at the top of their game. A band that have the utmost respect for each other and for the people who work with and around them.
They are a team, almost a family and that makes a huge difference to how a band works.
I have watched many music documentaries and films over the years and there is usually at least a hint of inner tension within the band. It is very hard to hide. But, nothing like that shows up here, in fact quite the opposite and this line up of the band have been together for many years now, decades even.
This in turn, transfers itself to the audience, who are amongst the most loyal i have ever seen. Some of the crowd scenes and audience participation, during the live footage, is amazing.
Many fans shown in the film describe Heavy Metal as a kind of religion and it is pretty obvious that Iron Maiden are viewed as Gods by many of them.
A couple of scenes in particular stick in my mind, both from South America.
It is obvious that Iron Maiden are huge in South America and the reaction to them borders on the hysterical at times. A fact recognised by the band themselves.
Bruce Dickinson, the bands singer, says to the crowd in Mexico that "The further south we go, the hotter it gets" and by that he means the reaction of the audience, not the weather.
He is not exaggerating either.
Part of this, i think, comes from the fact that Iron Maiden were one of the first heavy metal bands to play in South America, way back in 1985.
The fans have not forgotten that.
Also, Iron Maiden were actually banned in countries like Chile in the past, due to religious concerns and so had not been able to play live there. Therefore, when they do come to town, it is a very special event.
One gig in Puerto Rico, their first ever in the country, becomes a virtual pilgrimage for many fans, some of whom have come across the border from neighbouring countries just to see their idols.
A fan interviewed in, i think, Columbia becomes very emotional just thinking about seeing his favourite band.
Another male fan is seen at the end of a gig, clutching a prized drum stick to his chest, crying. He is later seen hugging his tearful girlfriend.
It really means that much to them.
I have seen this kind of emotional response to a band, or act before, but very rarely in this modern era. And these are grown men crying too, not besotted teenage girls.
For me Flight 666 is worth seeing just for the live crowd scenes alone. You are drawn into the emotion of the occasion. And, if you like that kind of thing, the music is pretty damn good too.
But, this film also reminded me of several reasons why i have such great respect for Iron Maiden:
- They haven't lost their sense of humour, despite all that goes on around them.
- The bands Boeing 757 jet, flown by Iron Maiden's singer Bruce Dickinson by the way, is called "Ed Force One", after the bands mascot, Eddie.
- As the title of the film suggests, the 757's call sign was "Flight 666". The number of the beast and the title of one of the bands most famous songs.
- Iron Maiden are a great British export and are still proud of and retain their British roots. You only have to see the amount of Union Jacks, England football shirts and West Ham United items amongst the crowds worldwide to see what effect and influence that can have.
- The have achieved what they have without any real radio, tv, or press exposure. They have done it the hard way. They have done it their way.
- Their "Don't give a fuck" attitude. I may not be their greatest fan, but they do what they believe in and they do it very well.
- And last, but by no means lest, they bring a smile to my face and you can't say fairer than that can you?