MEMORY LANE: Hartlepool guitarist made Iron Maiden debut Jan-tastic

Janick Gers with  Iron Maiden in  December 1990.

Janick Gers with Iron Maiden in December 1990.

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The first concert I went to was Iron Maiden at the City Hall, in Newcastle.

The date was September 26, 1990, and it was noteworthy because it was Maiden’s first tour with Hartlepool’s very own Janick Gers on guitar, replacing Adrian Smith, after he left the band earlier in the year.

Janick Gers with  Iron Maiden in December 1990.

Janick Gers with Iron Maiden in December 1990.

It all started a few weeks ear-lier when my friends and I queued outside of the City Hall from 5am to get tickets.

We were only youngsters at the time – about 14-years-old or so – so it was all a bit of an adventure.

By the time we got to the front of the line there were plenty of good tickets left, but we were so terrified of what might happen at the concert we ended up getting seats in the rear balcony!

It’s hilarious looking back, the City Hall is a safe, seated ven-ue, and after years of going to all kinds of concerts, I’ve got to say the metal crowd is by far the most friendly and welcoming.

Come the night of the gig we were nervous but excited.

We’d seen the videos and lis-tened to the Live After Death live album countless times, but this was for real ... the mighty Maiden in the flesh! And they didn’t dis-appoint.

It’s all a bit of a blur of volume and lights now, but I clearly re-member Janick climbing up the speaker stacks at the side of the stage to interact with the fans on the balcony.

He definitely injected some new energy into the band.

Afterwards we felt like shell-shocked soldiers returning from battle.

I’ll never forget how much my head was ringing, but I knew I wanted more (and I still do).

A few months later, Maiden returned to the North-East, at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink, in the December. We were there again.

I last saw Maiden at the Met-ro Radio arena in Newcastle, in 2011. Although Adrian Smith has returned to the line-up, Janick is still in the band, and along with Dave Murray they rock an impres-sive triple-axe attack these days.

Although my musical tastes have broadened overtime, there’ll always be a place in my heart for Maiden – and even af-ter all these years, they still don’t disappoint.

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