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October 25th, 2019, O2 Universum, Prague
Promoter: LIVE NATION CZ
Bruce Dickinson: front man of the legendary IRON MAIDEN – one of the most successful bands in the world, but also a successful businessman, brewery owner, airline pilot, swordsman, screenwriter, actor, broadcaster, motivational speaker and writer.
Bruce Dickinson’s autobiography “What Does This Button Do” was published in 2017. It has been translated into several world languages and has become the catalyst for creating an unconventional solo presentation of one of the most remarkable personalities today, not only on the music scene, but also in so many other areas. Unfortunately, this publication has not yet been translated into the Czech language. Many fans hoped that they would be able to buy it during the presentation in Prague. However, the English original was not available either. That was the only shortcoming of the event in the final analysis.
An Evening with Bruce Dickinson is the perfect opportunity for the fans to learn more about this inspiring personality. There are only a few hundred fans sitting in the audience and the atmosphere is, of course, much more intimate than the colossal IRON MAIDEN shows. His powerful energy and stunning speech can drag you into the story so much that, for a while during the show, you can feel that that you are part of his story. Nowadays, I often hear that people are not capable of retaining attention to reading, but more especially to podcasts or longer talk shows. The main reasons are, in my opinion, time, stress and lack of interest, or the desire to pick and choose. Bruce Dickinson’s performance lasted in total two hours and forty-five minutes and was divided into two parts with one fifteen-minute break. In the first part, Bruce Dickinson tells stories that are chosen from his autobiography, but enriched by his unique charm, detached view. multi-faceted talent, and typical English humor, presented with an appropriate dose of irony. He has a great ability to turn even more serious topics like cancer or war into humorous episodes. As a brewery owner, he did not hide his passion for good Czech beer, and I do not know whether it was one of his jokes or whether he is actually preparing an unusual edition of mango and chocolate beer he presented to us. The stories are in pictorial form accompanied by photographs projected on the screen. In the second part, Bruce answers selected questions from the audience.
According to the reactions from the audience, it certainly did not appear that anyone was bored and there was no lack of attentionworth mentioning. The laughter from the audience could be heard almost continuously throughout the performance. Bruce does not choose the classic speech of his colorful life story as a form of his own presentation. This is a full-fledged satirical one-man show, during which he reveals his other talents. The list of his roles can be clearly attributed to: an excellent storyteller, entertainer and comedian.
I can hardly transform the immediacy and fantastic atmosphere of an evening with Bruce into words. It is something best experienced firsthand. However, I will include at least a few stories that Bruce Dickinson shared with us during the evening, as well as his autobiography.
“Everything starts somewhere …” With these words, Bruce Dickinson starts the story, and there appears his photograph on the screen at the age of 15-16. It was not possible to take a selfie while there was no Photoshop, and Bruce asks what people actually did before Photoshop was created. Given today’s technology and the fact that it is possible to create various things in Photoshop directly from the mobile phone, he could if he wanted, still look like a fish thanks to Photoshop. But he wished to have a mustache. Because he couldn’t have it, he used a blue crayon and imagined what it would have been like to have a mustache one day. As a result, he did something terrible to his self image and reprogrammed part of his brain because, as he told us, everything we do when we are 15-16 years old has been with us for the rest of our lives, and we can’t get rid of it. As life goes by, a demon called “blue crayon” appears from time to time. When he actually let a mustache grow, people asked him what made him do it, and his answer was obvious: Photoshop.
Bruce Dickinson was born in Worksop, England which is, according to him, the world’s largest backwater. Almost every town in the world has got somewhere else with the same name, but as he says, there is no other place in the world called Worksop. He recalls who besides himself comes from there. For example, actor Donald Pleasance – the boldy guy who plays all the bad guys. Worksop was a coal mining town. His grandfather lived next to the miner pit as they called it, and Bruce was born in the same house, number 52. Bruce thinks he was born upstairs, but he certainly was born in this house. His parents were too young for parenting, he was a bit of an accident, Bruce adds. Not that the birth was unexpected, because his mother’s pregnancy was obvious. What was unexpected was the pregnancy itself at such an early age when she was only 16 years old. That’s why Bruce was raised by his grandparents for the first five years. Shortly after his birth, his parents ran away to a circus and performed around the world in various nightclubs with their dog. He didn´t even know what his parents looked like. He just remembers one photo of his mother in her leotard holding her hoop.
When his parents returned from traveling around the world, they wanted Bruce to do what they told him to do. When his parents started telling him what to do, he started to have a problem with authority. Dad was a big fan of cars. He knew everything about them and could talk about them all the time. He knew so much about cars that it was impossible to stop him when he talked about them. He could talk endlessly about the transmission, all the inventions, and about spare parts that you wouldn‘t even know were part of the car.
He moved with his parents to Sheffield, a town in the middler of England, which, Bruce wittily commented, was built like Rome on seven hills. His parents worked very hard. They also had three jobs. Dad was selling cars. He was repairing the cars at home in the garage as well. He also built houses and was knocking old houses down. Occasionally, Bruce helped him with it – once he wasn’t successful, and he ended up in a hospital after a fall.
He started becoming a musician, not real as he reveals, because he wanted to be a drummer. He loved the drums because he was hyperactive as a child. These days, they would probably medicate him for it, as he comments. He was a fan of Ian Paice. He didn’t have much to do with John Bonham at first, but later he learned to love him. He wondered how he would tell his parents that he wanted to be a drummer. He could hardly have hidden the drum kit in the house without his parents realizing. First, he decided to start playing bongos and “borrowed” them from the music room at school. He wanted to be Ian Paice and John Bonham on the bongos. He had already decided he would not be a singer. When Bruce was invited to sing in SAMSON, he was told by the band that they were just before a tour and a record deal. He went on to argue that he wanted to play rock and not be a comedian wearing a mask.
Until he met SAMSON, he knew nothing about drugs. He joined them on the day he received his university degree. When he came to the first rehearsal, he immediately found out that everyone was on drugs and asked if they were going to rehearse at all. He got the answer – maybe. However, they lasted that way for the next two years, and Bruce adds that they made every possible mistake they could make in the music business. They fired their manager and had trouble with several lawyers. The total amount they owed was £ 270,000.
Steve Harris and the manager of IRON MAIDEN came to see SAMSON’s last show and invited Bruce to become the new IRON MAIDEN singer. No one was reportedly aware of this decision, especially not their singer Paul Di´Anno. Bruce was invited to audition as the singer. He confesses that he himself does not know where he got the confidence or arrogance to respond as he did. He told them if they knew that he was going to get the job,then the question was not whether he was going to audition for them, but if they really wanted him and expected him to create something new and different from what they had done with the original singer so far, then he had loads of ideas. And if they didn’t want him and his ideas, they should say so, and he would walk away. He was 19 or 20 at the time, and the rest is history.