Jul 27, 2019

Concert Review: Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast Tour- Barclays Center NY 7/26/19

Iron Maiden took its "Legacy of the Beast Tour" to New York City for two incredible nights at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The opening night was another amazing theatrical experience filled with powerful music & an energy that never stopped.

The tour began in Europe in May of 2018, going through mid August 2018. It picked up again for the North American dates, on July 18th 2019 in Sunrise Florida, just outside of Fort Lauderdale. 

Iron Maiden drummer, Nico McBrain lives in Boca Raton & has a small restaurant called "Rock & Roll Ribs" in Coral Springs, Florida. Excellent food with lots of Maiden paraphernalia around. They also serve imported, Iron Maiden Trooper beer in bottles as well as the Light Brigade version. A few of the Maiden guys spend lots of time in South Florida as well.

If you don't know Iron Maiden or have never been to one of their shows you don't get it & don't understand. This is a mega band with an incredible loyal fan base around the world. 

They have been around since 1980, released 16 studio albums & have sold somewhere between 90 & 100 million albums world wide. With a history of very little, if any, radio airplay or media attention, they are still one of Heavy Metal (as well as Rocks) biggest artists. Iron Maiden have performed in 59 countries & have played well over 2100 concerts. The show still goes on selling out world wide. My first Iron Maiden concert was my first concert ever, 1983 on the World Piece Tour at Madison Square Garden. My friend Kevin was with me & we were together for this one 36 years later?! This was my 7th Iron Maiden show.

The bands core line up always remains intact, with founder Steve Harris on bass, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith & Janick Gers on guitars. Nico McBrain on drums & the multi talented Bruce Dickinson on the vocals. 

It's really amazing how these guys can keep up the energy for two plus hours while delivering thundering heavy metal rock & roll. The guys now in their sixties never wear down. The crowd also hangs in there, trying to keep up with the band- can you imagine? The crowd, now mixed in ages from us original Maiden veterans to a younger generation, even some folks there with their small kids.

An Iron Maiden show is a theatrical experience, this production was Maiden's most elaborate to date. With multiple backdrops changing for nearly every song. Most of the giant art work featured their mascot Eddie in different scenarios.

Singer, Bruce Dickinson is the perfect front man, leaping around the large stage, changing costumes, as well as identities throughout his performance. He portrays a pilot, a soldier firing a musket, a prisoner in a cage, a frightened man with a mask & top hat holding a lantern for "Fear of the Dark". He swings swords, shoots fire from the hip, dons a black cape holding a lighted cross & is always in charge of the audience. He raises his arms & says "Scream for me Brooklyn"- they respond to the command.

This show is somewhat of a greatest hits if you will, since there is no new album to promote. The band picked from its back catalog focusing on their classic period.

The show opens with "Aces High" (a song about an air raid during the Battle of Britain from the pilots perspective)

 A giant WWII  Spitfire plane hangs above the stage, "rolling, turning, diving". Bruce Dickinson belts out the lyrics, while donning an aviator hat with googles, similar to a WWII pilot. This was one of two songs from the 1984 "Power Slave" album. The other- "2 Minutes to Midnight" was the third song of the night, another real popular crowd favorite.

The most songs from any album came from 1983's "Piece of Mind" album, first there were incredible versions of  "Where Eagles Dare" (based on the 1968 Clint Eastwood movie) the second song of the night, keeping the incredible energy up from Aces High, what a start to a show. Also from "Piece of Min" was "Revelations" where the stage was transformed to almost gothic cathedral setting, with fire lit chandeliers & stained glass, featuring different Eddies.

Then the "Piece of Mind" classics, "Trooper" & "Flight of Icarus". "Trooper"(song about the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War from a dying soldiers perspective) is where the crowd gets to see the Iron Maiden Mascot- Eddie. 

A giant Eddie wearing a British Military uniform, complete with boots & back pack, prances on stage taunting Dickinson. He then has a sword fight (in good fun) with Bruce Dickinson. Dickinson fires a musket at Eddie & waves a giant US Flag during the song as the crowd screams along the "wo oh oh oh" parts!

For "Flight of Icarus" (a song loosely based on Greek Mythology character- Icarus who while imprisoned with his father, makes wax wings to escape but flies too close to the sun). This song is super special because prior to the "Legacy Tour" starting in 2018 it had not been played in concert since 1986. The ever theatrical Dickinson sings the song (with lots of fan participation) while holding two flame blowing guns at his hip. A promo video of the tour features this song.

Second most used album of the night, was three songs from the classic "Number of the Beast" album. Of course it's title track, maybe their most popular song (?) as pyro & red flames turned Barclays into the fiery pits of hell, as everyone sang along to the 666 lyrics. 

Also from "Beast" the legendary "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (which some consider one of Metals greatest songs) returns to the set list, after being dropped for the second leg of the Book of Souls Tour in 2017. This song about a prisoner awaiting to be hung at the Gallows pole, features Dickinson singing in a cage with a swing noose behind him awaiting to be hung.

The show closed with yet another Maiden classic, third song from "Beast", the galloping "Run to the Hills" (a song about European settlers & Indians battles in the old west). At this point the crowd was euphoric.

Before the encore, it is a tradition they play their title song Iron Maiden, a song that has been played at every concert since the release in 1980.

Maiden are certainly not a thrash band, but this song is early thrash metal & hold up to anything in that genre. This song featured a tremendous gigantic Eddie head appearing behind the band above the drum kit. Up the Irons! 

- Iron Maiden Set List 7/26/19

Aces High
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Clansman
The Trooper
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills

Jul 25, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Seaver Recovers After Two Straight Losses

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

Saturday July 26th 1969: The Mets (55-40) five games back of the Chicago Cubs at this point, hosted the Cincinnati Reds (49-44) in a Saturday matinee at Shea Stadium. 45,074 (25,259 PAID) fans came out to see Tom Seaver take on Cincinnati's  Tony Cloninger.  These Reds only featured two players of their classic Big Red Machine line up of the 70's.

Seaver had just come off of two straight losses, a very rare thing for him in 1969, it only happened twice. A sore arm had him beat up in Montreal in his last start & a 1-0 heart breaking loss to Bill Hands in Chicago before that one. The 1969 Cy Young Winner losing three straight games in 1969, ain't gonna happen.

Starting Lineups

Today, this Seaver still wasn't his best but he was good enough for a complete game victory. Over nine innings, he scattered eight hits & two walks but allowed just two runs. He struck out eight as he earned his 15th victory of the year, tying him with Phil Niekro of the Atlanta Braves & Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers for most in MLB. His 2.56 ERA was also one of the leagues best.

In the bottom of the 4th, with one out, Mets second baseman Ken Boswell singled then stole second base, his sixth steal of the year. Art Shasky singled to bring him home for the first run.

In the top of the 5th, Lee May walked then was moved over on a bunt. After a single by Woody Woodward, the catcher Danny Breedan bunted for a base hit that scored May to tie it up.

In the home 5th, the first two Mets were erased, then Bud Harrelson singled to left field. The pitcher, Seaver then doubled to right, although Harrelson could not score. Tommie Agee then singled up the middle bringing in both Harrelson & Seaver making it 3-2. 

Trivia: Agee was now tied with Ed Kranepool & Ken Boswell with seven game winning hits credited.

The sixth inning, started out badly as Pete Rose doubled & Chico Ruiz reached on a Wayne Garrett error. Bobby Tolan then singled to score Rose making it a 3-2 game. 

But Seaver then picked off Ruiz at second, exciting the crowd. He brought the to their feet as struck out both Reds sluggers Tony Perez & Lee May to end the threat.

The Mets left the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, as Gil Hodges did not remove Seaver for a pinch hitter with the bases jammed & two outs. In the 8th the Mets defense turned their second double play of the game, as Bud Harrelson handled a grounder touched second & tossed over to first for the two outs.

In the 9th, there was more excitement, Bobby Tolan led off with a base hit. 

Next another Gil Hodges moved to be the right decision. He brought in Rod Gaspar to play right field for defensive purposes replacing the steel gloved Shamsky. Tony Perez lined a low liner in the left field alley, at first Gaspar stumbled but recovered with his speed to snag the ball. He then threw to first nailing Tolan who was half way to second for the double play. 

It was Gaspar's 7th assist on the season & the Mets third double play of the game. The crowd went wild. Seaver struck out Jimmy Stewart to end the game & earn win #15.

Jul 22, 2019

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: Mets Head to the All Star Break

50th Anniversary of the 1969 World Champion "Amazing Mets"

The New York Mets headed into the 1969 All Star break at 53-39 just five games behind the Chicago Cubs. It was the best position the Mets had ever been in at that point of a season, since their inception in 1962. Manager Gil Hodges had molded them into true contenders & they were for real in the exciting summer of '69.

The team closed out the first half splitting a four game weekend series in Montreal, with the Expos. On Friday night, Jerry Koosman won his third game in a row, going the distance in a 5-2 Mets win. Kooz struck out seven, walking two in the seven hitter that lowered his ERA to a 1.88, with an 8-5 record. For Koosman it was onto his second All Star Game, this one in Washington D.C.  

Jerry Grote hit his second HR of the year, a two run shot & Art Shamsky hit his eighth HR, a solo shot. Expo pitcher, Jerry Robinson walked in a run & allowed an RBI single to Rookie Wayne Garrett as well.

The Mets lost on Saturday, as Tom Seaver had one of his worst outings of the year. He allowed four runs on seven hits in just two innings of work, including a HR to Coco Laboy. 

There was some concern for Seaver's million dollar arm, as he felt a stiffness.

Quotes- Tom Seaver: "It's not from my teeth, I had them looked at. It's not from sleeping on it, because I try to sleep on my left side or my stomach. Rube (Walker) thinks it could be a cold that settled there. But I wear a pajama top to guard against air conditioning".

He said he first felt it on the night of the "Imperfect Game" in July but it worked itself out. He felt it again in Chicago & this start in Montreal, where it did not work itself out.

He was named to the All Star team but did not pitch due to the stiffness. The doctors checked him out & Seaver was fine, going onto his Cy Young season.

On Sunday July 20th, the Mets played a double header. They lost the first game 3-2 as Gary Waslewski out dueled Gary Gentry.

In the nightcap, Tommie Agee singled & Bud Harrelson walked to lead off the game. Ron Swoboda singled home Agee & Harrelson scored when Wayne Garrett grounded out. 

Mets starter, Don Cardwell took a 2-1 lead to the 8th inning, but gave up the lead when former Met, Kevin Collins doubled in Ty Cline to tie the game. 

In the 9th, another former Met, Don Shaw helped his old club, by walking Cleon Jones with the bases loaded. But Coco Laboy, struck again, hitting his 13th HR of the year to tie it up. This HR came off reliever Ron Taylor, who would only serve up seven HRs all year. It was his fourth blown save as well.
The Amazing's proved once again, how everyone on the team contributes. With two outs, Ron Swoboda doubled. 

Pinch hitter Bobby Pfeil then delivered the single that scored Swoboda with the game winning run. Pfeil would only drive in 10 runs all year (211 at bats).

Jack DiLauro came on to
pitch & earned the victory. It was his first & only victory of the year.

Also joining Seaver & Koosman at the All Star Game would be one of the leagues top hitters, Cleon Jones. At the break Jones was batting .341.

50th Anniversary of the 1969 Mets: The 1969 MLB All Star Game

July 23rd 1969: MLB All Star Game- Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, Washington D.C.

Gil Hodges- Willie Mays & Leo Durocher
The 40th Mid Summer Classic was originally scheduled for the night of July 22nd, but heavy rains caused the game to be postponed. It was then played in the afternoon of the next day, July 23rd. To date it's the last All Star Game to be played in the daytime.

The game was played on the historic day that Apollo 11 was to return to earth & splash down in the Pacific Ocean, fresh off the first United States moon landing. President Richard Nixon was to throw out the first pitch on Tuesday night but after the game was rained out, he had to go west to greet the astronauts & his VP Spiro Agnew tossed out the first pitch.

Koosman & Seaver with Ted Williams
The game featured a talented group of players that produced 20 Hall Of Famers. The game was broadcast on NBC with Curt Gowdy calling the play by play, Tony Kubek & Mickey Mantle served as analyst. 45,259 fans came out to see the game live. The managers were Detroit Tigers' Mayo Smith & the St. Louis Cardinals' Red Schoendienst.

The Mets Cleon Jones, who was one of the leagues leading hitters, got the start in left field batting 6th. Mets pitchers Tom Seaver & Jerry Koosman also represented the Mets. Seaver did not pitch due to stiffness in his arm.

Starting Lineups

    Former Brooklyn & NY Giants Foes
    The Tigers' Denny McLain, who had won 31 games in 1968 & would lead the league again in wins in 1969 (24) was scheduled to start for the AL, but he arrived late for the game. 

    Mel Stottlemyre (future Mets coach) got the start in McLain's absence. McLain would pitch the 4th inning, allowing a McCovey HR, a hit & two walks.

    In the top of the 1st, Matty Alou led off with a base hit. He advanced to second & then third on pitcher Mel Stottlemyre's wild pitch. He scored on Frank Robinson's error. 

    In the 2nd, the Mets Cleon Jones led off with an infield single. The Cincinnati Reds Johnny Bench hit a two run HR making it 3-0. Bench would get robbed of a second HR by Boston's Carl Yastremski later in the game.

    In the home half of the 2nd inning, the local All Star hero, Frank Howard hit a solo HR delighting the fans. Howard hit 44 or more HRs in each season from 1968-1970, leading the AL twice.

    McCovey HRs
    In the 3rd with Oakland's Blue Moon Odom now on the mound, Hank Aaron singled & Willie McCovey blasted a two run shot. McCovey was the 1969 NL MVP leading the league in HRs (45) & RBIs (126) for the second straight year. He also led in On base % & slugging.

    Cleon Jones then reached on an error & Bench singled. Then future 1973 Met, Felix Millan, a member of the 1969 NL Western Champion Atlanta Braves, doubled scoring Cleon & Bench. 

    Jerry Koosman pitches 7th Inning
    Pitcher, Steve Carlton then also doubled bringing in Millan for a commanding 8-1 NL lead.

    In the home 3rd, Tigers catcher Bill Freehan led off with a HR making it 8-3. In the 4th, Willie McCovey hit his second HR of the game, earning him MVP honors.

    In the 6th inning, Cleon Jones got his second hit of the game, a single off a Baltimore Oriole pitcher, he would face in that years World Series, Dave McNally. Jones along with McCovey, Johnny Bench & Matty Alou, all had two hits on the day.

    In the 7th inning, the Mets youngster Jerry Koosman came on to pitch. After allowing a lead off double to Boston's Rico Petrocelli he retired the next three batters, including striking out Baltimore's Brooks Robinson. Brooks would face Kooz again in the World Series.

    In the 8th Koosman got Carl Yastremski & Paul Blair (another Oriole he'd face in the World Series) to both fly out. Phil Niekro came on to close out the 9th for the NL. The NL won it 9-3 with 11 NL hits & 6 AL hits.