In the wake of the extraordinary events that saw the band pelted with eggs and their live set sabotaged by event staff at their recent US Ozzfest show, Iron Maiden are in high spirits for their headline stints at Reading and Leeds this weekend.
The band had been subjected to a bizarre, brutal and relentless torrent of intrusive and obstructive abuse from the moment they took to the stage at the largest and final date of the 2005 Ozzfest Tour in San Bernardino on August 20, performing infront of 45,000. According to eye-witnesses, people wearing official Ozzfest production passes hurled eggs from the front row, whilst others on the side of the stage caused chaos by repeatedly hijacking the microphones (to chant ‘Ozzy Ozzy’), trying to prevent Eddie (the band’s famous giant mascot) from entering the stage and cutting the power from the PA and amps. At one point, someone invaded the stage with an American flag.
Most shocking of all is the speculation that the main conspirator behind this outrage was Ozzfest supremo Sharon Osbourne herself, and that she had spent the day rallying members of other bands to join her in her Maiden-baiting. What’s for certain is that Sharon Osbourne took to the stage after Maiden’s final power-out and thanked the band for their performance, before sniping, “Bruce Dickinson’s a prick”. A statement on the official Ozzfest website subsequently accused the singer of “berating Ozzy and belittling the Ozzfest audience” and being “the only person who hasn’t had the Ozzfest spirit”.
In a respectable show of humility, the band declined to “waste time giving this statement the dignity of a reply”. However, their manager Rod Smallwood opted to comment on what he claims was a “premeditated and co-ordinated attack” on the band.
He said: “We know who authorised the making of the “Ozzy – Ozzy” chant tape the day before and how it was played secretly through the PA at the very beginning and end of our set.
“We also know who continually turned off the power interrupting our set at crucial moments…the great majority of the Ozzfest crew throughout the tour were terrific and we thank them. Those who participated or stood idly by and watched as this all went down should also be ashamed of themselves and I would certainly hope they never come near a tour with which we are involved.”
He concluded: “I have to say I was immensely proud of Maiden who stood up to it all and showed great courage and just got better and better through the adversity. Their heads never dropped, instead they went on the offensive. It was a truly memorable moment when Bruce went to the very front of the stage during ‘The Trooper’ – something which he never normally does as he is usually on the ramps – waving the flag whilst avoiding the hail of missiles and yelling ‘This is a fucking British flag, and these colours don’t fucking run!’. The imperturbable attitude and ability of the band shone through and in the end made this a truly remarkable rock and roll event, even if for all the wrong reasons.
“We will have no more to say on this matter except that I do think the band deserve an apology from a number of people, and you know who you are.”
Iron Maiden will headline Leeds Festival on Friday August 26 and Reading on Sunday August 28.