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Gnarly Charlie's Recap Of IRON MAIDEN's BATTLE OF SAN BERNADINO Concert

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Thursday, September 26, 2013 @ 6:09 PM


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The Battle of San Bernardino
San Manuel Amphitheater
San Bernardino, CA

On a lucky Friday the 13th, Southern California's greatest heavy metal event of the summer rolled onto the hallowed grounds of Glen Helen. This is a venue that has hosted many memorable rock festivals, including the storied US Festival in 1983, and on this day, The Battle of San Bernardino.

On the concourse, in the mid-day Inland Empire heat, WARBRINGER and OVERKILL kicked off the event. Opening on the main stage, Swedish power metallers SABATON played an energetic set. Although some may feel OVERKILL, pioneers of American thrash metal, deserved to be on the main stage, the Swedes’ music added contrast to the thrash fest of opening acts.

Up to this point, the lawn was sparsely occupied and the overall vibe could be likened to the somewhat sleepy, three-beer buzz you get when the temperature is near the triple digits. That changed at dusk when TESTAMENT hit the stage. During "Rise Up", the circle pits began and the event awakened to resemble a real live metal show. It was as if TESTAMENT served as a cattle prod, smartly inserted up the butts of the crowd who needed that jolt of electrically-charged metal. The Bay Area thrash metal kings pumped the place up with the “Star-Spangled Banner" and took over, playing a healthy set of favorites. Guitarist Alex Skolnick contorted his body like a heavy metal Baryshnikov, busting face-melting licks. Singer Chuck Billy, who has dealt with health issues in the past, looked great and was all smiles as he belted out familiar songs, like "Practice What You Preach". Gene Hoglan, back on the TESTAMENT drum throne again, added timing and wizardry.

ANTHRAX continued to build the energy and played an amazing set, attacking the stage with a physicality that no other band would match at that event. Singer Joey Belladonna seemed perfectly at home, frequently making eye contact with fans, inciting the fury up front and on the lawn as bassist Frankie Bello and guitarist Scott Ian thrashed about like youths gone wild, out to crush and destroy. By the war dance part of "Indians", ANTHRAX owned San Bernardino, loving every minute of their short time onstage, elevating the energy. Ex-Shadows Fall guitarist Jon Donais, now a permanent member of the band, seemed looser than in previous shows, and his playing was complemented by Ian's rhythm guitar. Belladonna paid homage to Bon Scott, singing AC/DC's "T.N.T." , a track covered on ANTHRAX 's Anthems album earlier this year. "I Am the Law" and "Antisocial" sealed the set right. And so the gauntlet was thrown to MEGADETH.

MEGADETH hit stage after sundown and lit it up with a couple of droogie favorites, "Hangar 18" and "Wake Up Dead", followed by "In My Darkest Hour". With the exception of "Kingmaker" from the Super Collider album, this was a greatest-hits set, done well, with a dynamic display of lights adding flair to the music. Well-oiled and with mechanized precision, MEGADETH lacked the gut-level connection with the audience that TESTAMENT and ANTHRAX had. But, like a comparison of apples to oranges, MEGADETH lives in a different sphere. The songs are often about serious shit, and as the most technical band in thrash metal today, there isn't a lot of running and jumping and throwing horns kind of vibe. "Sweating Bullets" and "Symphony of Destruction" put the crowd into a frenzy. The electric shapes and imagery displayed on the panels on both sides of Shawn Drover's drum kit were captivating, as was the guitar duo of Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick. The audience's response to Dave Ellefson's bass intro on "Peace Sells" was frenetic.

On the final U.S. date of their Maiden England Tour in San Bernardino, IRON MAIDEN played a set of favorites, highlighting their seminal 1988 release, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The set began with "Moonchild", and as a very fit Bruce Dickinson worked the stage, bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain pumped galloping rhythms, holding 30,000 fans by more than their eyes and ears. Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers held court with guitar mastery. Plenty of pyro and visuals--this was a full-fledged IRON MAIDEN show-- and the energy could be felt from the stage out to the lawn and back. Old favorites that hadn't been played live in years were part of the set. Though they had been hitting the European road hard over the summer, the band showed no sign of burnout. At the beginning of the show, Dickinson launched a high and stylish aerial with microphone stand in-hand. Two classics, "Number of the Beast" and "Run to the Hills", appeased those who came to hear classic Maiden. "Fear of the Dark" exhibited the theatrical splendor of IRON MAIDEN. As the crowd sang "fear of the dark, fear of the dark..." echoing Dickinson during the slow, building intro, the dedication of the fans was apparent. IRON MAIDEN showed love and tireless dedication to its fans throughout this amazing performance. They had won The Battle of San Bernardino, and perhaps, a few hundred new fans.



  • "Ghost Division"
  • "Carolus Rex"
  • "Gott Mitt Uns"
  • "Swedish Pagans"
  • "The Art of War"
  • "Primo Victoria"
  • "Metal Crüe"
  • "The Star-Spangled Banner" (intro)
  • "Rise Up"
  • "The New Order"
  • "Practice What You Preach"
  • "Into the Pit"
  • "Native Blood"
  • "D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate)"
  • "Three Days in Darkness"
  • "Worship" (intro)
  • "Caught in a Mosh"
  • "Indians"
  • "Hymn 1"
  • "In the End"
  • "T.N.T." (AC/DC cover)
  • "Fight 'em Til You Can't"
  • "I Am The Law"
  • "Antisocial"
  • "Hangar 18"
  • "Wake Up Dead"
  • "In My Darkest Hour"
  • "Sweating Bullets"
  • "Kingmaker"
  • "Tornado of Souls"
  • "Symphony of Destruction"
  • "Peace Sells"
  • "Holy Wars"
  • "Moonchild"
  • "Can I Play with Madness"
  • "The Prisoner"
  • "2 Minutes to Midnight"
  • "Afraid to Shoot Strangers"
  • "The Trooper"
  • "The Number of the Beast"
  • "Run to the Hills"
  • "Wasted Years"
  • "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"
  • "The Clairvoyant"
  • "Fear of the Dark"
  • "Iron Maiden"
  • "Aces High"
  • "The Evil that Men Do"
  • "Running Free"
Check Out Gnarly Charlie's Awesome Photos From The Show!


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