Iron Maiden's Canadian connection

ADRIAN BROMLEY

, Last Updated: 9:12 PM ET

When British heavy metal pioneers touch down at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto next Tuesday (Aug. 1) for the first date on their 2000 North American tour, it will be something of a homecoming for the band, especially drummer Nicko McBrain.

"Canada has always had a special memory in all of our hearts. Toronto, Montreal and Quebec have always been big markets for us," says McBrain down the line recently from Spain, where the band is touring behind "Brave New World," the album featuring the long-awaited return of singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith.

"Also, before I joined Iron Maiden, I lived in Toronto for five weeks working on an album with Pat Travers (titled "Putting It Straight"), so I guess you can say that Toronto will always be a place soft in my heart," he says.

"I'll never forget the vibe I had from walking up and down Yonge Street. They had great shops back then. I think Toronto is probably my favourite Canadian city because of all the fond memories. It was great to be here working at Eastern Sound Studios and playing drums on Pat's record.

"We are always excited about coming to Canada," he adds. "And the fact that we are starting the tour here is kind of cool, too."

Although this is the first album in nine years with Dickinson fronting the band (the last was 1992's "Fear Of The Dark"), McBrain says the material has gone over well with audiences in Europe.

"The album is pretty much taking off all over the world, which is a blessing for us, and it seems that most of the audience has the new disc and know all the words," he says. "It doesn't take long for them to get into our albums. The true fans are always in fine voice for both the new and old stuff."

With a massive summer tour of North America starting next week, the band -- rounded out by bassist Steve Harris and guitarists Janick Gers and Dave Murray -- has climbed back to a level it hasn't been at for some time.

"We did a few lean tours over the last few years to be cost-effective and because of the situation at the time, but with both Bruce and Adrian back in the band, and the successful Ed Hunter (reunion) tour two years ago, all seems to be going just fine," agrees McBrain.

"With that tour, we were able to re-create the sort of mid-'80s vibe that we once had when we toured the United States more than a decade ago, and we are bringing that to this tour. We have been able to put together a big production this tour, and we are having a blast. These are some of the best times we've ever had as a band."

Iron Maiden's Canadian tour dates:

August 1: Toronto, ONT - Air Canada Centre

August 2: Montreal, PQ - Molson Centre

August 3: Quebec, PQ - Colisee Arena


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