When a legendary heavy metal singer shows up to town, you never know who will fly in for an unexpected guest spot.
Both the audience and Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson were surprised by the sudden appearance of that old heavy metal chestnut, a live bat on stage, during An Evening with Bruce Dickinson at Buffalo State College’s Performance Art Center on Feb. 1.
“It was probably sent by Sharon Osbourne,” Dickinson quipped as the bat briefly stole the show from a performer who’s used to having all eyes and ears on him.
Dickinson’s fascinating life story quickly recaptured the audience’s attention. Iron Maiden fans are famously devoted, driving the British band to huge success as an arena touring force over the past 40 years despite limited radio airplay and music video exposure.
From moonlighting as an airline pilot to becoming an international competitive fencer, Dickinson’s resume is truly one-of-a-kind, even away from his success in music. When it comes to finding a unique way of making a living, Dickinson does have some pedigree.
“I was born and my parents took one look at me and went, ‘All right, that’s very nice. We’re off to join the circus for two years. And they went off and put a four-week dog act together,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson punctuated his walk through life with photos, describing moments, milestones, and mistakes along the way.
Although Iron Maiden is one of the most successful touring acts of their era, touring hasn’t always been glamorous for Dickinson, especially during his pre-Maiden years with the “dysfunctional” opening act Sampson.
“You get 20 minutes of excitement followed by 23 hours of dead time when you’re bouncing around the bus or trying to find a Waffle House,” he said.
Diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015, the seemingly unflappable Dickinson admitted to the personal struggles brought on by his disease and how it changed his view of the world around him.
“London is infested with hospitals, churches, and graveyards,” Dickinson would repeat to himself. Following treatment, Dickinson has been cancer-free since 2015. He shared a photo he had taken to commemorate the good news.
“I have to say, my body fat percentage is probably fantastic because I just lost 20 lbs. in weight because of the treatment. If you ever get cancer treatment, just look at the bright side. I don’t recommend it as a weight loss program, but whatever it is you get from it, think positively,” Dickinson said. “Like it says on the back of the t-shirt, ‘Life is better than all the other options.’”
Dickinson closed the event with a big screen viewing of Iron Maiden’s latest music video, “The Writing on the Wall” and a Q&A session with the audience.
If you missed the event, Dickinson will conclude his tour with two regional Canadian shows in Hamilton, Ont. on March 29 and Kitchener, Ont. on March 30. See more details at Dickinson’s website, ScreamForMe.com.