Nearly every rock band of note over the past two decades has travelled the ‘unplugged’ route of revisiting their classics in acoustic format. Iron Maiden are an exception, but the intriguing possibility of what their trademark songs might sound like has been realised by this collective of respected musicians, assembled by  Dutch bassist and Maiden fanatic Joey Bruers  and including various members of Within Temptation.

I ventured a few miles down the road of my South-West London heartland on a cold Friday night with a sense of curiosity, genuinely not knowing what kind of evening to expect. But from the moment Threshold singer Damian Wilson, holding court in the back bar, suddenly Pied Piper-style rounded fans up and took to the stage, this was an evening with a difference.

These are not straight covers, but more accurately described as Maiden songs reimagined with a single acoustic guitar, keyboards  from Marco Kuypers (despite the night’s in-joke that keyboards do not belong in metal) and with the tempo slowed.

They made a fascinating listen and indeed in many instances brought out the depth in Steve Harris’ melodies and lyrics that is hard to appreciate when delivered in Maiden’s usual frenetic style, yet also sounded like a completely different band that even a non-Maiden fan could easily enjoy.

Damian is a brilliant performer, demonic in appearance with a rich soaring voice yet a down to earth manner and a rare gift for making the whole audience feel involved. This was exemplified when, in a manner reminiscent of school playground games, he got everyone to form a semi circle so he could sing an unrecognisably slowed down The Trooper at everyone individually.

While some songs like Children of the Damned and Infinite Dreams were relatively close in spirit to the original, others sounded totally different in style like Prowler from the debut album and an epic treatment of 22 Acacia Avenue.

 Although the set featured a few of Maiden’s best known live staples like 2 Minutes to Midnight and Fear of the Dark were played, the other pleasure for me was hearing some relative obscurities chosen, in particular Flash of the Blade and some of the album cuts from one of my favourite albums Piece of Mind such as Revelations, Quest for Fire and Still Life.  The Evil That Men Do and Wasted Years with everyone singing along, ended a set that was both intriguing and brilliant.

 So far they appear to be an underground cult, judging by the modestly sized, if fanatical crowd. With a wider tour planned for later in 2013, go and see them and your curiosity will be richly rewarded.

Review by Andy Nathan

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 21 November. Next session 12 December. The video above was a Halloween Special, streamed 31 October.

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