Jul 11

Bluesfest 2010 – Day 1 – Iron Maiden

First day of Ottawa Bluesfest 2010. It’s a blistering mid-summer Tuesday in the capital city. A smog cloud thick as the smoke in a 70s bingo hall hovers over the grounds at Lebreton Flats. No one seems to mind.

There’s a bum frying an egg on the sidewalk.

“There are so many freaks that show up to an Iron Maiden show,” says a young punk in passing. “I’m sure I’m going to be the only one with a Maiden shirt on.”

The kid’s wrong about the shirts, right about the freaks.

Even heat peaking at nearly 40C is not enough to keep away idealists turned government employees who relish the two weeks of the year they get to unbutton the hardest button to button.

Seems inherently wrong for this many men to be wearing flip-flops and polo shirts tucked into cargo shorts (one dude even has a collar sticking out over his Maiden t) at a festival opening with a bill that includes Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and, err, Wayne Brady (who will smack a bitch!).

Under the Blacksheep Music & Comedy Tent, Bluesfest is hosting its first ever comedy show. Whether it’s te jokes or the room temperature – a few degrees cooler than in the sun – the tent is packed.

The Relationship Comedy Show seems an odd, albeit fitting, addition to the festival, almost like rehab after the electric Dream Theater set. The words of lead singer James LaBrie – “Let’s see those fuckin’ hands up Ottawa” – still rattle around the brain like the pea in a spray can as comedian Jim Breuer’s voice chimes in.

“I’ve had swamp ass since I got off the plane,” jokes Breuer, of Half Baked (“Who’s comin’ with me?”) fame, to an applauding crowd. “You guys just came here for the air conditioner,” he ads, taking a shot at the oldest of Canadian isms. “They got air in there, eh?”

Back outside, the sun has started to set and the metal heads have amassed. Black Maiden shirts now rival the ubiquitous three-piece polo-cargo-flip-flop ensembles of earlier.

It’s refreshing.

Just after 9:00 p.m. the band that most of the black clad and, no doubt, rubes have come to see, grace the MBNA stage to a deafening chant of “Maiden, Maiden, Maiden, Maiden!”

“Don’t eat the fuckin’ hot dogs, they’ll kill ya!” declares frontman Bruce Dickinson to the unconfirmed number of 20,000 strong before tearing into a set rife with everything from stage theatrics to shredding old-school guitar solos. “Any of you who are lost and thought you were coming to see a blues band, get a map.”

Meanwhile, at the Subway stage furthest from MBNA, the Kelp Records Review is in full swing. And blues is in abundance. There are at least 10 guys on stage – two drummers, three vocalist, four guitar players and a couple bassists.

Now there are 15.

While the crowd may be sparser than Maiden’s following, it is no less a dedicated audience. And with no black or collared shirts in sight, the review seems a fitting end to a blues fest dominated by heavy metal and comedy on opening day.


Originally posted on the Martyr Magazine Blog (Canada’s Alternative Press), this is one of the coolest collaborations Captivate has embarked on to date!!

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