The early 1980s. Maybe 1981? I was sitting at Music Corner, listening to the “Number of the Beast” album and staring with amazement at the sleeve. It was so cool, so tough. As a young teenager, I rarely bought any records at Music Corner, but I went there quite often to listen to music and gaze at album covers.
I was never an Iron Maiden fan. Sure, I had nothing against their music, but my interest in music was entering a new phase. I was of course a big fan of KISS since second grade or so, in the mid 70s, but KISS got rather uninteresting in the beginning of the 80s, when suddenly that Vinnie Vincent dude appeared and the band members unmasked themselves – they removed the mystery that was KISS. Instead, I started listening to post punk and new wave. However, KISS returned to my life some years later – after all, that is the band that has meant the most to my life and career – they kind of summarize everything I like: comic books, superheroes, horror, science fiction and rock ‘n’ roll.
But Iron Maiden had really cool album covers. And now there is a two hour documentary on the band’s gigantic 2008 world tour. Is a movie like this something others than the die hard fans can enjoy as well? The answer is: Yes!
The somewhat elderly members of Iron Maiden – yes, they look like geezers wearing wigs – decide to embark on the most unique and ambitious tour of their career and fly around the world in their private Boeing Eddie Force One; Flight 666, and perform in countries they have never been to. Lead singer Bruce Dickinson himself, a qualified pilot, is maneuvering the plane and he looks trustworthy, wearing a pilot’s uniform – the only thing I miss is him, in a Danish accent, saying “Dis is kaptajn Jensen-Olsen-Jensen who velcomes you aboard dis flight to…”. (For some reason, I always tend to end up flying with Danish pilots wherever I am)
During the two hours we get to see the band perform at several enormous arenas, intercut with scenes of the boys playing golf, tennis, soccer or visiting ancient Inka tombs, and quite a few weird fans pop up every now and then. The scenes from Japan are the best, featuring little blushing teenage girls speaking bad English, one of them says “I want to become Steve Harris’s daughter!” The concert in India is fun as well, there’s something special about Indians wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts.
A huge part of the movie is from the South American concerts, and in Colombia, soldiers confiscate cameras and food (!) from the audience before the show, and when the concert is over, we see adult men cry since they have experienced something they thought they would never experience.
In Brazil, a priest who claims to be the world’s greatest Maiden fan is interviewed. He removes his shirt and shows his close to 200 Maiden tattoos. Unfortunately, we don’t get to witness any of his services, which are said to be based on Iron Maiden’s lyrics. In Mexico we are served shots of mariachis and copulating dogs.
FLIGHT 666 is a very nice film. The band members are a couple of middle aged chums and there are absolutely no conflicts, no arguments, no fights, no problems, no drugs, no heavy drinking; this is like a cozy but hectic luxurious holiday for rock ‘n’ roll geezers. It looks like they are having fun during the gigs – they laugh and look happy on stage, instead of trying to look tough and dangerous. The only incident that threatens the idyll, is when drummer Nicko McBrain gets a golf ball on his wrist, but he gets better before that night’s concert. Steve Harris’s daughters have joined the tour as well and they talk about how shy and kind their dad is.
My only remark is that the movie feels a tad long and repetitive with similar scenes of screaming fans showing up wherever the plane (which looks extremely cool with its Iron Maiden logo) lands – and every single country of the tour ended up in the documentary. But if you compare it to, say, Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones movie, FLIGHT 666 can be appreciated by a wider audience, at least that is what I guess. If your not a Stones fan, Scorsese’s film – which is nothing more than a concert – may get boring. FLIGHT 666 offers more and it is fun, and everybody in the film seem to be so nice and ordinary!