Note : Too long; don’t read.
The devout Hindu that I am, I have always tried to live my life according to the 4 Purusharthas (“Purush” : soul, “Artha” : meaning/purpose) – Artha, Dharma, Kaam, Moksha.
Artha, Dharma and Kaam are three the primary goals (trivarga) of life :
Artha (wealth) – It is acknowledged that a person needs to have economic prosperity in order to provide himself and his family material pleasures, and thus happiness.
Dharma (righteousness or morals) – Holding a higher priority over Artha is Dharma, that is, a person’s ability to always do the right thing and follow the path of True Consciousness.
Kaam (sensual pleasure) – Kaam refers to the fulfillment of human desires – sensual and sexual – a hedonistic philosophy.
However, the fourth and the most important goal of life is the chaturvarga known as “Moksha” or liberation.
Achieving Moksha, which is also called Nirvana-prapti or Mukti is seen as a conclusion to one’s conception of self, breaking the shackles of all ties and the conceived reality of the world (also termed as Maya) and a realization of one’s own true self which is real being, and the sense of eternal happiness that is an experience which is inexplicable, ineffable and beyond the realms of human perception.
Here’s how I achieved all that and more in a single day :
Artha : 1600 for the ticket + conveyance + stay + food.
Dharma : Making it to Bangalore even when the odds are stacked against you. As I said, doing the right thing is the aim of Dharma.
Kaam : The sensual pleasure of standing there, waiting for Them.
And the ultimate culmination :
Moksha : Watching Them for the second time.
15 February, 2009 was the auspicious occasion when the Gods descended into the city of Bangalore in their Pushpak Vimaan, aptly named the ‘Ed Force One’. This little 757 beauty carries a little over 12 tonnes of equipment, 60 member crew, band members and Captain Bruce Dickinson.
The teerth sthal : Palace Grounds, Bengalooru. Fellow trooper Vipul and I reached the venue at around 3 in the afternoon. The size of the place took us by surprise when we walked in. It made Mumbai’s BKC look like a matchbox in comparison!
The first thing we noticed on entry was this crane set up for bungee jumping. Vipul took one look at people dangling upside down in the air and rushed over to fill up the form. I had my doubts about the rope and decided to stay put.
Minutes later, Vipul leapt off the rickety platform that was about a 140 feet above the ground and bounced around in the air like a yo-yo. Bach gaya saala! That “shocked-happy-surprised-wtfwasthat?” grin on his face perfectly described what it must have been like.
We entered the concert area at 4:00. 2 stages had been constructed – the bigger one for the main act and smaller one for the other bands. Pilgrims, troopers, mercenaries, children of the damned, mariners, blood brothers, nomads, journeymen, powerslaves, clansmen, fugitives, warriors, prowlers and invaders from all over the world had gathered there.
Synapse frontman was growling at the audience :
“Everyone sit down! Sit down, sit down! I need everyone to sit down please! Sit down!”
He reminded me of Mr. Anthony, my primary school Physical Education teacher, who used to yell at us in a similar fashion.
“When I ask you to jump tha fuck up, whatcha gonna doooo?” (growl growl) “When I ask you to jump tha fuck up, what-cha-gonna-doooooo?”
“Shaat aap shaat aap shaat aap I’ll faack ya aaap!”
Yep, definitely Mr. Anthony.
People shook their heads in disappointment and walked away.
Fortunately, Kyptos, the local boys were on next and they blew the roof off the place! They were loud, they were angry and they didn’t pause for a breath. Their lead guitarist was fantastic! The red suraksha dhaaga that he was wearing around his wrist seemed to worked for him as he easily got the crowd to work their necks off.
De Profundis, a UK based death metal band followed up. We were not into the “grr grr blaa graaa brrr” metal at all, so we headed to the main stage area and secured our positions in front of the stage.
The next performance was the one that everyone was waiting for hungrily. Lauren Harris (For the uninitiated, Lauren is Steve Harris’ daughter. And if you don’t know who Steve Harris is, go die). The crowd, having moshed to Kryptos and De Profundis, were just aching for some rape meat. She wasn’t going to be spared this time, oh no.
If the dumbfuck organisers had some sense, they wouldn’t have placed Lauren’s item number right AFTER heavy acts like Kryptos and De Profundis. Or maybe they didn’t really have a choice. This bade baap ki bitchy aulaad must have demanded this slot from them as a part of the deal. “Main nahi to daddy bhi nahi.”
She swaggered out on stage expecting a positive reponse. Poor girlie, she had no idea what awaited her.
She got pwned. Assaulted. Raped. Ripped to shreds.
Just a few examples of the pwnage :
“Fuck you, stupid bitch!”
“Tera emosional atyaachaar”
“Bring her father, bring her father, stop this slaughter…make her go, make her go, make her go”
“Oh my god Avril Lavigne we love you!!”
“Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me”
“Somebody call the Shri Ram Sena and get this bitch beaten up!”
“Meri laundry ka ek bill na na na na na…”
Then began the infamous bhenchod madarchod chants that reverbed around the ground for a looooong time!
The people standing really close to the stage targeted her gayish-looking guitarist next. The sexual orientation related insults really got him and he cracked. The faggotass bastard pointed to his crotch and made sucking motions with his hand. That, incidentally, perfectly summed up their performance too.
Not just abuses, people hurled everything from bottles and paper balls to plectrums and drumsticks. Then some genius came up with the idea of throwing loose change. A shower of 1/2/5/50p coins rained down on stage as the poor members kept running around to dodge the projectiles! As expected, they had to wrap up quickly.
Meanwhile, some band named Brandon Ashley and the Silver Bugs started their performance on the other stage. Brandon Ashley and the Silver Bugs. Yeah, right. Nobody was foolish enough to give up their hard fought place in front of the main stage for a band with a name like that. I felt sorry watching them enthrall all of the 3 people standing there. 2 of them were security guards and 1 was stoned.
After thanking the ‘audience’ for the hundredth time,the Patna ke Ashleys or whoever they were left and the attention shifted to the main stage once again.
Parikrama were on next, and they provided the much need relief for the evening with a splendid performance. Was I dreaming? Not quite.
The mood suddenly changed when Parikrama finished their last song. For obvious reasons.
Voices from all around the ground chanted just one name.
Doctor doctor, please
Don’t you know I’m going fast
Doctor doctor, please
Don’t you know I just can’t last…
The instrumental piece, Transylvania
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France…we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air…
Heart pounds against the ribcage. Fingernails dig deep into the palm.
…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds…
Teeth gnash together. I’m on my toes. The veins in my head bulge out and thump.
…we shall never surrender!
Time slows down. And begins the Charge of the Light Brigade.
It’s moments like these you wish you could hold on to a little longer. Moments like these you wish you could pause and replay in your mind forever. But even before you realize what’s happening, those moments just zip past you like the ME-109s that he’s talking about.
Rest assured, nobody’s adrenal glands were going to be spared for the next 2 hours.
Wrathchild. The crowd had gone berserk and it was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. I could feel my insides being ground to a wholesome pulpy goodness with people around me thrashing about like possessed maniacs. Some frantic pushing and shoving later, I made my way up to the barricades. Ah, clear view at last.
The set list had changed for the final leg of the world tour, and it promised to kick some serious ass. In addition to the all-time fan favourites like 2 Minutes to Midnight, Children of the Damned, Run to the Hills, The Trooper, Iron Maiden and Wasted Years, Maiden also performed the rare classic gem Phantom of the Opera. The song’s haunting riffs and Bruce’s chilling vocals came together to give the evening that eerie, surreal touch. Sheer brilliance.
Bruce drew a huge roar from the crowd when he spoke about their next mesmerising masterpiece, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. “This is what happens when man fucks with nature” and “this is not what you do when a bird shits on you!” Ha ha, bang on!
Based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s legendary poem, The Rime is easily one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever. The long and complex poem expertly summarized into the most spellbinding 13 minutes you’ll ever experience. And that epic guitar solo, mamma mia! I lost most of my voice and most of my head during this track. So would have Coleridge had he been alive.
The songs in the encore were shuffled this time around, with the immortal anthems Fear of the Dark and Hallowed Be Thy Name unleashed back-to-back, but not as a part of the encore. The grandmas of the world would have shivered in horror had they witnessed the utter mayhem these songs triggered! The ground rumbled beneath as 30,000 bodies rushed in from all directions, hammering into each other in one bonecrushing frenzy and kicking up a duststorm on their way. I don’t remember what I did during those few moments of hysteria. It was only after Hallowed Be Thy Name ended that I came to my senses and found myself on the ground with a group of people staring at me with a bewildered look on their faces. My neck, ayayyo!
(Ahem, now I know why companies that sell stuff like Iodex, Moov and Relispray are never affected by recession. They have metalheads all over the world to thank.)
Maiden made a mock exit afterward, but guess what – they weren’t done yet.
The thoroughly battered and bruised crowd dug deep for the last reserves of energy in their bodies for the final onslaught – the icing on the already mouthwatering cake.
“Woe to you oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath…”
“The good that men do is oft interred with their bones, but the evil that men do lives on…”
(Bruce didn’t say that – I just wished he did)
“I know you’d have gone insane if you saw what I saw…”
As if all this wasn’t enough, Bruce had a few more surprises in store:
Another studio album next year.
A movie titled Flight 666 coming out this year. “It has a lot of India in it,” Bruce said.
Possibly another world tour in a couple of years.
Disappointments? Probably the duration- less than 2 hours! 😥
And it broke my heart that they didn’t choose any other classic from their earlier albums. But take nothing away from the evening; they were absolutely awesome. After all, how many 50 year olds do you know who fly their own Boeing 757, run around the stage with a tattered Union Jack and sing 13 minute long heavy metal ballads with effortless ease? How many 50 year olds shred guitars and drum the way they do? 34 years (and counting) of legacy that draws little parallel.
My rambling could go on and on and on like the Mariner’s tale, but I guess you are wiser than the wedding guest to figure that out yourself. Long live Air Raid Siren and the gang!
In conclusion, it was an evening that lead to the vimochan of all my paaps. I felt eternal bliss. My jeevan had been saarthakified with this act of shuudhikaranification. Akhanda soubhagya!
The morning after : My hands are locked in the ‘devil’s horns’ gesture. I can’t even move my finger without wincing in pain. My throat hurts when I swallow food and my vocal chords have taken on a Farhan Akhtar/ Rani Mukherji huskiness.
But the goosebumps? They refuse to go away. I’m not afraid, I’m safe with Them, safe as any soul could be. Honestly. I just let myself go, but still caught somewhere in time…