What Bruce Dickinson Got Wrong at Early Spoken-Word Shows
Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson looked back on his early spoken-word shows and joked that he’d robbed some fans of "the will to live."
Since he started delivering one-man performances to tie in with his 2018 memoir What Does This Button Do?, he’s refined his performance to include more personal stories. In a recent interview with Loudwire ahead of a run of U.S. appearances, he compared the spoken-word approach to fronting the metal giants.
“The difference with a Maiden show, or a musical show, is you don't change the song mid-song because of the audience's reaction,” Dickinson said. “With the stories, if you sense that they're really getting it, or somebody is absolutely about to spontaneously combust with laughter, then you pause it, and you wait for that to sink in and take effect. You can play with the emotions in the room, and sometimes things can start to take on a life of their own.”
He noted that "it's very different because you really are feeling the audience paying attention to it, you're slowing things down or speeding things up if you think that the audience has really got it. That might lead you to do something else – you have to keep your wits about you.” Still, he admitted, “My timekeeping when I first started doing these was all over the place. Some nights it was two hours or more, and the audience kind of loses the will to live – their bladders give out, they explode, get carried out feet first.”
While the original concept was for him to simply read from the book, Dickinson went on to develop a style that includes many of his lifetime firsts. “The Iron Maiden tours are so well-documented – you don't need to go through those,” he explained. “But what's interesting is the first time [I] came to America, first time I was invited to an orgy in America ... I didn't know it was an orgy. I had no clue what a hot tub was. I thought it was something to do with apple bobbing – why would you do apple bobbing in a hot tub? I thought, ‘This is intriguing. I’ll go along,’ and it wasn't that at all.”