Memories of old: The Chemical Wedding Tour etc

I don’t know how old you guys are in general, but back in 1998, I was a 16-year-old high school boy more interested in playing guitar by myself than drinking and chasing girls, or whatever it was that people did back then. I had been listening to Maiden and Bruce’s solo stuff for a few years already, and one August day, I noticed a small ad in the leading Finnish rock magazine: a new Bruce album would be released in just a few weeks, and what was even more eye-catching, he would do three shows in my home country later in the autumn – one of which would be done in my hometown. This was huge news, and to this day I remember calling my friend immediately and sharing it with him.

I had only seen a couple of rock gigs; I was too young to enter bars and such (the age limit is 18), but I had managed to sneak in for a few shows, probably because I was so tall that the portier geezers wouldn’t question my age. For Bruce’s show however, there was no age limit because it was set in a place where there was a separate bar area in the back. So no problem there. But I’m sharing this age-thing now just to convince you that at that point, I basically hadn’t seen sh*t, you know.

I got my ticket, and so did my brother and a few friends as well. Accident of Birth had been a massive hit in my core social circle. Even people who had no history as metal fans, seemed to love it. Some of those people even came to the gig. The ticket cost 105 Finnish Marks, which is 18 Euros, which is ridiculous, but the times were surely different and so was money.

There was a signing session with Bruce at a local record store earlier that day. One of my friends went there (was I in school? I don’t remember) and got Bruce’s autograph on his ticket. Bad idea! The portier ripped half of it off, because that’s how it worked back then. Poor guy. (Adrian wasn’t signing. Someone asked about him, and Bruce said that H was having his tea some place else.)

Anyway, we got in early. It was the leading venue for rock shows in Tampere, Finland, with a capacity of some 1,500 people. I have no memories of any possible warm up acts. I just remember standing around in the venue with my under-aged friends and seeing Eddie Casillas walk through the floor towards the stage with a guitar case. We recognized his face from some promo shot (and the guitar case helped) but we didn’t exactly know which one he was. We assumed him to be Roy because he looked so cool. We didn’t have the courage to stop him and say hi.

Meanwhile, the guy with Bruce Dick’s autograph who had just recently turned 18 was trying to get in to the bar, but he was already so drunk that they wouldn’t let him. Later, as we were already waiting for the show to begin, standing amongst the crowd (it was packed, sold out I believe), he irritatingly kept asking something like “is that god” whenever a roadie/technician walked on stage with a flashlight to make sure that whatever was working or whoever had their drinks at the right spot on stage. Oh the memories. I wonder if my friend remembers all this as well as I do.

And then, all of the sudden there were “gods” on stage, the air raid siren blew, Dave Ingraham counted to four on his hi-hat, and the opening of “Trumpets of Jericho” thundered from the speakers. There they were: Adrian Smith, Roy Z (yep, I’ll get back to this), Eddie Casillas, and Dave Ingraham. And seconds later, I saw Bruce running from the right side of the stage, grabbing the mike, jumping into the air and declaring the venue to be the maze of life. Holy crap, what was I witnessing.

You probably know what they played, as the setlist was almost identical to “Scream for me Brazil”. “King in Crimson” came in second, with an iconic “scream for me Finland”* in the intro, followed by some sinister excerpt from some book in weird red light leading to “Chemical Wedding”, “Gates of Urizen”, … Seven songs from the Chemical Wedding in total, a few older ones, a few Maiden songs as well: “2 Minutes”, “Powerslave”, and “Flight of Icarus”, which was the last song of the evening. Phew.

So, about who was really on stage. I don’t remember if there had been any interviews or such in Finnish media beforehand. We of course knew who played on the album, but I don’t think we knew about who was touring. We just assumed that it was the same group who made the record. So the guy with a bandana, playing beautiful solos, clearly a masterful guitarist, must be the already legendary Roy Z, right? So imagine my confusion when Adrian began the even more legendary guitar solo to “Tears of the Dragon”. What the heck? It was only at a later point during the show that Bruce introduced the band, and we found out that the bandana guy was Roy’s guitar technician, Richard “the Guru” Carrette. Roy didn’t participate on the European tour at all.

My personal big moment was during “Accident of Birth”, at the end of the second chorus. Eddie was doing backing vocals, and his mic was in front of where I was standing, although I was like in the twentieth row. But I noticed Eddie looking almost straigth to where I was, and decided to point my finger at him and yell “yeah” or so. To my surprise, Eddie saw me. He pointed back at me, grinned, and walked away. I never forget to tell this story.

What else to say about it all. As said, I wasn’t used to going to gigs, I had basically no experience of anything, so I most probably didn’t get a grasp of what I had just been part of. Because after that, I’ve seen Maiden a few times, I also saw Bruce during the 2002 festival tour, which was great too, but to see the guys perform songs from a freshly-released album like “The Chemical Wedding” in my home town, oh man, that is truly special. A year later Bruce was already back in Maiden, and with years passing, it slowly became clear that stuff like this would probably never happen again. I can’t think of another show that I would have reminisced this much.

All this happened on October 23, 1998.
So it’s been 25 years, almost.

I’ve got no photos of the show, because back then everyone wasn’t carrying cameras everywhere, and I haven’t seen any videos. But here’s one from Belgium a month later, for context:

  • He did do “scream for me Tampere” as well, but at one point he accidentally did “scream for me Helsinki” and by the look on his face realized his mistake right away. Of course, we didn’t respond that well to that one.

I accidentally pressed the “create topic now” button or what was it, so the post above went out there before I was finished with it. Maybe that’s good because it’s quite long already. I don’t know what else I would have written, but I’ve quitted editing it now and will instead post replies here if something essential comes up. Meanwhile, rock on.

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Great story. Living in the U.S. I didn’t get the chance to see the Chemical Wedding tour or the 2002 festival tour, though I did get to see the Accident Of Birth tour, and Eddie Casillas was hanging out in the audience watching the opening act, so I got to have a brief moment with him then. I was in my mid-20s at the time, so a little older than you.

I documented my concert experience and subsequent interview with Bruce & Adrian in an old issue of the Strange Death newsletter, which was the precursor to the original forum.


Oh wow, that was a great read! I think I’ve bumped into your story from the release party of AoB sometime in the past, but this one I had not read.

Fascinating that they could have played Skunkworks songs as well!

I guess I’ll write something about the 2002 festival at some point. Meanwhile, to anyone who reads this, feel free to share your memories from anything related to the older times!

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BRUCE DICKINSON BAND at Tuska Festival, Helsinki, Finland, July 14, 2002

That first line was basically all I knew about what was coming, when I headed to the freeway with three of my friends on that blazing hot Sunday. I was 20 years old, had a crappy car and still lived in Tampere, a couple of hours’ drive from our famed capital. The festival took place right next to Helsinki central railway station, in the very centre of the city. But no public transport for us! We managed to find a parking spot somewhere and headed to a kebab shop near the station. That one guy whom I mentioned a few times in my report from 1998 was there this time as well. He bought a small kebab for a remarkably high price, but he defended himself by saying “yeah but it was very small”. That’s all from him in this story.

The festival itself had been founded a couple of years earlier, starting as an indoor metal fest, but it had began to grow very quickly with the help of popular bands from abroad as well as some Finnish household names that loved it from the very beginning and wanted to be part of it year after year. So in 2002, it took place on a sand field or something… I mean an even-surfaced opening where some sports are played in the summer. (In winter I think they freeze the surface and organize things like ice hockey or whatever skating-related, like they do everywhere around Finland.) It was sold out; I’ve understood that 5,500 people were allowed in daily. The name of the festival, Tuska, translates simply as “pain”.

Well, the festival kept growing, and nowadays it takes place in a much bigger space where tens of thousands of people visit every year; fans traveling from abroad also, to see “the” Finnish metal festival – Finland sort of being the world’s metal capital. (According to some survey, there are more metal bands per capita here than in any other country.) This year for example, the headlining bands were Gojira and Ghost.

To me, this wasn’t as huge a thing as last time because I’d already been to festivals, I had seen a lot of bands (although not many from abroad, I think), but hey, this was Bruce! It had been almost four years since I last saw him perform (my first Maiden show would happen the following year), and what better way to spend a hot, sunny summer day than BRUCE DICKINSON BAND! While having returned to Maiden some years back, Bruce had also released “Scream for Me Brazil” and his “best of” album with some weird stuff on CD 2. But what would he play this time? And who would appear on stage with him?

We didn’t see many bands before Bruce’s slot; Sonata Arctica did their power metal stuff on the main stage (too speedy for my taste), and on the smaller stage there was a Finnish alternative/goth rock band called Maj Karma who gained decent success later. I was sort of interested in the latter performance, but after four songs or so, I already felt the urge to go stand in front of the main stage… it wasn’t long until Bruce would show up.

And he did, actually. While some preparations were made on the stage, I saw Bruce through an open curtain standing behind the stage, eyeing the gathering crowd and eating fries & sausages! (A traditional summer festival dish.) Although, come to think of it, maybe this was at an earlier time, because eating that stuff just before the show might not be a great idea… who knows!

Finally, it was time. The band were announced, and I believe the first one to walk to the stage was Chris Dale. I had never seen him outside the Skunkworks era promo shots, but you know, he wasn’t very hard to recognize – especially as he was wearing a Sack Trick shirt. I knew they had a weird band by that name but I’d never heard their music. And Alex Dickson was there too! So we gathered that the drummer must be the Italian guy, although his flamboyant style was very different from “Skunkworks” and “Alive in Studio A”… Later in the show we learned that this was not Alex Elena but Robin Guy. There was also another guitarist on stage, introduced by Bruce as Pete Friesen, who took care of most of the soloing… and man, he was gooood. (Alex stayed more in the back, which I guess he preferred.)

I remember it as a fun, laid-back performance. Bruce in a white t-shirt and light grey college shorts, the audience basically eating from his hand especially during the Maiden classics. His singing was phenomenal. Robin was doing this robot dance thing with his hands while playing the drums, and taking pictures of the crowd (possibly mid-song, I’m not sure). He looked like he was having the time of his life – which he was, as I read in the Skunkworks book. The guys worked well together, the atmosphere was great.

So with Chris and Alex on stage, they played “Back From the Edge” and later also “Innerspace”, which was the biggest surprise in the set. Other than that, there were the new songs “Silver Wings” and “Broken”, and “Tears”, “Accident”, “The Tower”… and four (!!!) Maiden songs: “Revelations”, “Bring Your Daughter”, “Powerslave” and “The Prisoner”. Maybe that was good for a festival crowd.

The closing song of the day was quite fun, it was… “Delilah”! I remember some of the crowd being a bit confused about this one, but once they got into the chorus, everything was fine, because everybody knew the singalong part – in some language at least. The song was recorded in Finnish decades ago by a famous singer, and it’s a big hit.

But when the band got to the instrumental part after the second verse, a large part of the crowd started singing the chorus again, without realizing that the guys were playing something completely different. Bruce was gesturing them to stop, but you know, people had had a few drinks and having great summer fun… you don’t just tell them to stop singing, do you? I’m pretty sure this happened every time they played “Delilah” that summer.

There is a 24-minute video on Youtube, posted by Chris Dale a few years ago, footage from this show recorded on Alex Dickson’s camera (filmed by John McKibbin apparently). It confirms a lot of what I’ve written and possibly contradicts with some parts…

At the end of the video, Bruce can actually be heard saying “we’ll come back next year”, which of course they didn’t. When leaving the festival, I didn’t know that this would be my last Bruce solo band show for… 22 years?

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Maybe this is a good thread for this finding…

I ran into this recent interview with David Ingraham, who I believed had mostly quit playing after the millennium and turned into a photographer. Well, he has done a lot of photography but he also joined an Irish rock band and is still active with them.

This is a podcast episode (well it’s a Youtube video for me…) by a Finnish drummer who basically learned to play the drums with the help of Accident of Birth and The Chemical Wedding, as he states during the interview. Dave himself has partly blurry memories of his time in Bruce’s band, but there is some really fascinating stuff and some pieces of news to me at least. (and a “piece of shit” snare drum – but whose old drum was it?)


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…and the same guy (Jarkko Lunnas) also interviewed Chris Dale last year when Chris was visiting Finland for some Maiden-related evening, where Dennis Stratton was also playing a few songs. With Chris being Chris, this is a great chat! They focus heavily on Skunkworks, of course, and most of the stories are in the book, but still, great fun.

What is it about touring with Bruce that turns drummers into photographers? Dave Ingraham, Alex Elena…okay, that’s just two, but someone should check on Dickie Fliszar and see what he’s up to just in case we’ve got a hat trick.

As for the Chemical Wedding tour, I’m in Jer’s boat. In the US, no Chemical Wedding tour for us. I was huge on the album, however, and more than a little disappointed that Bruce rejoined Maiden afterward, as–musically, at least–he was making huge strides as a solo artist. Financially, not so much, as it sold about as well as AoB.

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