Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden Bring the Heavy to Ottawa Bluesfest

Review:  Andre Bouchard
Photos: Mike Bouchard - More on Flickr

Upon arrival the Ottawa Bluesfest, I walked in via the River Stage and was shocked at how thin a crowd I was seeing, 25 people in front of the soundboard, but immediately stopped in my tracks thanks to a wonderful rendition of It Makes No Difference from Lynn Drury. In fact, I completely forgot about my two previous goals of getting a beer and getting to Monster Truck. It was a spiralling version of wonderful voices, as well should be. Once the song ended I figured I would hang out for the next number to see what they could offer but it failed to grab me so I headed for my next 2 goals only to be foiled by timing. Monster Truck’s gear was being taken from the stage. Boo to me but I felt reassured knowing it would have been more frustrating to catch 5 minutes of their set while missing a great cover of one of my favourite songs.

Alice Cooper - Ottawa Bluesfest 

I made it to the main stage to catch Alice Cooper run through a number of his well known songs like I’m Eighteen and No More Mr Nice Guy just in time to see the set end, and by that I mean I caught the entire thing but it was done in 50 minutes. Walked into a tiny bit of New World Son and stayed thanks to their cover of Will The Circle Be Unbroken but the next song was enough for my to leave. They counted it in “5-6-7-8” and started out what sounded like the Grateful Dead covering Hey Pockey Way but that intro quickly dissipated with the opening line “I live at 5678 Guitar Street”. It was not working for me at all so you I did what we do. GTFO. The surprise of the day was definitely Bright Light Social Hour on the Claridge stage. They were full on hair rocking it with dance beats and it was infectious thanks to the strange cross between KC and the Sunshine Band meets My Morning Jacket. A lot of the black denim in attendance seemed bewildered by the trance builds but couldn’t help from soaking their sound in under a hot sun. I actually wondered at one moment if Almost Famous were made about a band from today if Bright Light Social Hour wouldn’t be a great choice to build around. They certainly had the visual representation down. Finishing with a ballsy cover of Young Man’s Blues, which was outstandingly performed, was a perfect finish before the headliner, Iron Maiden.

Bruce Dickinson - Iron Maiden (Go here for more Iron Maiden photos)The first 4 songs were an exercise in sacrificing sightlines for sound and sound always wins so I found myself were you can never go wrong and that is dead center, albeit much further back than I would have wanted considering how easy it was to get somewhat close. I was behind the delay towers because any other place found the high register bass disappearing, or at least it seemed to. I was soon reminded of Maiden’s high throttle set from a couple of years ago but this was far more engaging thanks to the familiarity of the songs. Playing a good portion of material from The Seventh Son Of The Seventh Son, Iron Maiden’s guitarists proved that age doesn’t necessarily have to get in the way of maintaining dexterity and sharpness. The set also sprinkled favorites such as Run To The Hills, Fear Of The Dark, The Number Of The Beast, Aces High and Phantom Of The Opera. Combine that with a wonderful stage and Eddy making an appearance orchestrating the band and you have yourself a colorful concert. This was the first of 5 Canadian shows and I would recommend any fan of Maiden to check them out during this go around.