Bruce Dickinson Recalls Playing Show to Just One Person
Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson cited the example of playing a show to an audience of one person to demonstrate his attitude of “being real” about performances.
The incident took place while he was fronting a band in his university years, as he explained in a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho. Asked how he deals with difficult crowds in his early days, Dickinson said, “I would insult them – either that or try and make friends with them, but in a very odd way.”
He recalled: “I had one show; I was in a band at university. In the old days, it would have been called a disco. Except there was nobody there – it was like the phantom disco, and there was like mirror balls and lights. And there was also the stage, and there was nobody there. But we were getting paid like 50 bucks to go and play.” Eventually “one person walked in,” appearing “a bit shocked that there was somebody actually onstage.” The man in question found himself a chair, “put it right in the middle of the dance floor and sat down.”
Dickinson said: “I thought, ‘This is great!’ So I got off the stage, and I went up to him with a microphone. I said, ‘Excuse me, sir, I’ve to know: What's your name?’ … I said, 'Can I buy you a beer? Because we're about to do this performance just for you. The least I can do is buy you a beer. You may hate it, you know what I mean?' ... We kind of relaxed and … we actually had a relationship. We had an audience of one who didn't know who we were. … Nobody cared, nobody knew. But we had a great time.”
You can hear the interview below.
The singer noted that "a pet peeve of mine is when a band goes on in what’s obviously a toilet with two beer crates at one end of the stage. And they go on there, and they pretend that they're in Madison Square Garden. And it's like ‘Hello, Cleveland!’ And I’m just like, ‘No, it’s not Cleveland – you’re in a toilet with two beer crates!’ If you just said to people, ‘Hey, we’re all in the toilet with two beer crates,’ everybody would go, ‘These guys are great! I love these guys!’ But instead, they go, ’Oh yeah, just a bunch of posers.’ So you’ve got to be real with it.”
Dickinson is currently touring North America with his spoken-word show.