Tag Archives: Steve Harris

A Chat with Higher on Maiden – Iron Maiden’s official tribute band

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Higher on Maiden, Iron Maiden’s official tribute band from UK gave an unforgettable two-hour performance at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bangalore on 12th January 2014 (Read all about it here.) Higher on Maiden has Big Dickinson on Vocals, Swifty Harris on Bass/Vocals, Adrian’s Myth on Guitar/Vocals, Dave Hurry on Guitars and Clive Blurr on Drums.  We had a quick chat with the band and here’s what they had to say…

WTS: How does it feel to be back in India again?

HOM: The feeling is awesome and unforgettable. We have been here five times now. Every time we come back the whole experience seems to get better and better. We love India and we love the people, we cannot wait to return again!

WTS: What was the reception like the last time Higher On Maiden performed in India?

HOM: The reception is always the same – everyone goes crazy for the music. The crowds in India really know how to have a good time and we feed off that energy and try to put on as good a show as we possibly can. We think definitely the best crowds we have ever played to are in India!

WTS: Your band has shared the stage with the legendary Iron Maiden. How was the experience?

HOM: It’s like you’re standing there on stage, with your instrument, playing Iron Maiden, then you look across the stage and see Adrian Smith or Steve Harris or Nicko McBrain who are on stage with you, playing along! How surreal is that? You have to pinch yourself! We are so lucky for this to happen, and they are all such great guys who are really down to earth – amazing!

WTS: Can your fans expect original compositions in addition to Maiden covers?

HOM: Over the years we have discussed the possibility of writing some original tunes but never really got around to it .but also over the years we have all been in original bands, trying to make it, some a bit more successful than others but now we just love playing in this band, celebrating Iron Maiden and having a great time with Iron Maiden fans.

WTS: What are your big plans for the future?

HOM: More tours of India would always be amazing also there have been talks of Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam maybe, we are also constantly trying to play better, tighter and put on the best show we possibly can.

WTS: What do you think about the metal scene in India?

HOM: Because we are only in India a few weeks a year it’s very hard for us to comment on the metal scene there – it’s something we are interested in and hope to find out more.

WTS: Which other band has been a major influence other than Iron Maiden?

HOM: 5 members of the band, 5 opinions – Led Zeppelin, Rush, Helloween, Van Halen, UFO.

WTS: Given a chance, where would you choose to perform – what is your dream destination?

HOM: We have been blessed to play in so many countries over the years and for us India is at the top of the list. Brazil or Tokyo are two places we would love to perform and visit.

WTS: As a band, how has the journey been since the inception?

HOM: It’s mind-blowing that after 19 years we are still doing what we are doing and it’s still getting better. As we’ve said before, this band is about having fun, putting on a great show and fully engaging the crowd in the show, so we are as one, celebrating the awesome music of Iron Maiden.

WTS: What are your top 3 Maiden songs?

HOM: Oh dear, lots of differences of opinion here! This is the hardest question, but if it has to be 3 we think ‘Hallowed be thy Name‘, ‘Phantom of the Opera‘, ‘Aces High‘, but there are still arguments about these – too many great songs! .Oh yes – ‘Fear of the Dark‘, ‘Number of the Beast‘ etc etc!

 

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Anaadyanta feat. Higher On Maiden at NMIT, Bangalore

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Photo Credits: Chandra Prakash

Higher on Maiden received what one would say, a sonorous Indian invitation, with the microphones and the drum kit decorated with the customary garlands and needless to say, thousands of screaming fans. This UK band has been officially labeled as Iron Maiden’s only tribute band and the night of 12th March validated that.

The setlist was dynamic and progressive, as the band opened with ‘Moonchild’. Pure, unadulterated Iron Maiden songs were covered with utmost precision. With Big Dickinson’s theatrics that kept him on a par with Bruce Dickinson in addition to his operatic vocals, and Adrian Muth’s incredible stage presence, the fans seemed to be unnerved by the intermittent pauses due to drummer Clive Blurr’s illness.

Anaadyanta feat. Higher On Maiden at NMIT, Bangalore

Apart from Swifty Harris’ galloping bass strumming, one did not fail to notice his striking resemblance with the Iron Maiden legend, Steve Harris. Guitarists Adriam Muth and Dave Hurry alternated with the lead solos, therefore producing a scintillating effect. Clive Blurr’s speedy single pedal drumming was impeccable despite the short breaks he had to take.

The fans had a whale of a time when the band covered Maiden’s most popular songs that were mostly taken from The Number of the Beast. With everyone screaming out “666, The Number of the Beast!” and going as insane during ‘Transylvania’, nothing could be compared with the audience’s response to the quintessential ‘Fear of the Dark’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’.

Anaadyanta feat. Higher On Maiden at NMIT, Bangalore

As soon as the ‘The Trooper’ had begun, a pit was forming. Occasionally, Swifty Harris and Dave Hurry were playing against each other. The harmonizing guitars and the extended lengthy solos were just as impressive, with no glitches whatsoever. Songs like ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Run to the Hills’ that required a fast tempo bass was done exceptionally well.

Meanwhile, Big Dickinson knelt down to the enthusiastic audience, while Adrian Muth got the crowd roaring with laughter. With people shouting the lyrics out loud, crowd surfing, moshing, jumping to catch Dave Hurry’s plectrums and headbanging, the show was kept alive. The low sound levels and the five minute pauses did not drain their spirits, and in fact, the gig moved some people to tears. While the audience expected the band to cover ‘Dance of Death’, Higher on Maiden ended their performance with ‘Run to the Hills’, which was equally enjoyable. All in all, this was a perfect tribute on Steve Harris’ birthday, considering they played his best songs!

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Axe-tortion at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

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I landed up at the Blue Frog last night anticipating some pure guitar wizardry from some of the best musicians on the rock scene. Tonight was yet another edition of Chandresh Kudwa’s long-running and popular guitar-centric initiative called Axe-tortion, where he, along with two other guitarists played individual sets before finally jamming together. On my way there, I made it a point to listen to a few staple favorites by Joe Satriani and Andy Timmons, just to get into the mood.

After the customary ‘ingest-as-much-alcohol-outside-before-entering-an-expensive-place’ was out of the way, a couple of friends and I entered my favorite venue. The first act was already up and featured the new shredder on the local scene, Lokesh Bakshi on stage. He was flanked by Arjun Dhanraj of NerveRek on rhythm guitars, Dusty Ryan on bass, and rocksteady drummer Hamza on well, the drums. The song they were playing had dual solos, double bass, and was certainly very loud. Not to forget Dusty’s Steve Harris pose which would make one wonder if we were indeed at an Iron Maiden tribute gig!

The next song they jumped into had a nice drum intro that moved into a 6/8 groove with Ryan and Lokesh doing a Sheehan/Gilbert trading of licks. It ended with a furious 2/4 beat which would probably have got a mini mosh pit going at a venue like B69. Nothing of the sort happened here, but whatever we saw so far led us to forebode the upcoming ‘jam’ towards the end of the gig. Special mention here for Lokesh’s fingers, that seem to fly faster than Thor’s hammer, and that he extracted a nice cackling tone out of the Fender Strat that he was using.

Paresh Kamath, who was up next, is one talented and good looking dude, which my girlfriend never fails to point out to me. Well I have to agree, with the talented part at least. His guitar shot out a giant fat warm tone, with a minimum layering of effects. Hamza was still on drums and nobody minded his casual switch to an almost progressive funk style. Joining them on stage was the veteran and super attack fingers Crosby Fernandes on bass, although for some reason the bass guitar was sounding a little too wet for my taste.

I was busy marveling at Paresh’s Satch influences and his legato runs when I realized that he was using a Gibson Les Paul. It suddenly struck me that the last jam was going to be an all-out guitar war featuring the Strat, Les Paul and Ibanez!

They next jumped into a song called ‘Nitty Gritty’, which had a very funk staccato intro. Crosby’s bass playing was now shining through and he was a treat to listen to as he seemed to effortlessly complement Hamza’s grooves. Paresh has a great melodic sense in his style of playing. I also loved the way he holds back on shredding all over and makes the high pitch bends the big moments in his solos. He also showed off some very imaginative loop licks in his awesome display of tone and feel.

Chandresh Kudwa is like a freak of nature. I mean what else do you call someone who plays the Ukulele and Guitar, ambidextrously and simultaneously? I guess we could call him a genius too, and although the word is thrown around a lot, it does makes a lot of sense here.

The first song, called ‘G-uke’ was a killer and pretty popular, which goes to show the following this unique project already enjoys. ‘Floating feelings of a rare kind’ followed which pulled the crowd to the front. Good bands always manage to do that. A Samba sounding song called ‘The White Door’ followed, with some tasteful whammy bar playing by Chandresh (Also a great way to show off your giant flashy looking Ben 10 watch!). ‘All I do is this’ had an excellent heavy riff although the song was a little bit boring. The band was still the same with Crosby and Hamza pulling their weight interspeeding great phrasing and tightness! Chandresh’s tone was as usual perfect. Bright yet smooth and his legato shredding never sounded better.

Chandresh then invited the other two ESHs – Paresh and Lokesh back on for the last jam. They attempted one of my favorite songs of all time ‘Little Wing’ which was kind of a let down, with too much flash on a feel song especially when the best known versions are by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Then came the surprise for the night. The band launched into ‘The Trooper’ with a giant crushing 3-part harmony intro by the guitarists. This had to have been Lokesh’s suggestion going by his incredible shredding and the way he managed to transfix his face with this delirious expression, evidence of how much fun he was having. And if that wasn’t surprise enough, the last song they launched into was by Metallica; A thundering version of ‘Enter Sandman’ wreaked havoc on stage with each guitar player trading solos all over the place. At one point Chandresh and Lokesh were playing lap guitars and it was a really funny moment to watch Paresh smoke out a cool cat lick in reply to the twin tornadoes of notes.

A special mention for Hamza and Crosby. Hamza was tireless and hardly ever faulty in his playing and Crosby was like Batman at this gig. He didn’t have any super powers but he still kicked butt. The entire experience was thoroughly enjoyable and I would highly recommend anyone to go watch them the next time they are playing. Axe-tortion is a well conceptualized property that will eventually end up featuring every type of guitar player out there. I cant wait for the next edition.

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Howard Pereira

Howard is a guitarist with Mumbai based bands, Dischordian and Overhung. His other interests include drinking, comic books and occasional writing.

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