Watch Iron Maiden bring sexy back with the aid of an exotic dancer

Iron Maiden Hammersmith 1982
(Image credit: YouTube/Mark Jennings)

Some bands never quite fit the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll cliche. Take Iron Maiden - one of the world's most iconic metal bands, and breakout stars of NWOBHM known to take things to excess (so far as spectacular stage-shows and epic lyrical narratives go, at least). At the same time, Maiden were, and indeed remain, a band so removed from the blowjobs n' blow image of the Sunset Strip they might as well be Geography teachers. 

That doesn't mean the East Londoners didn't have their dalliances with sex appeal in the 80s however - and we're not just talking about Bruce Dickinson's leather trousers.

When Maiden embarked on The Beast On The Road tour in 1982 they were starting to lay the groundwork for the prop-filled live shows that would become so iconic in later years. But while flamethrowers and inflatable devils are something you expect to see at a modern Maiden gig, the appearance, for perhaps 90 seconds, of a female dancer during the quintet's performance of 22 Acacia Avenue at Hammersmith Odeon came as something of a surprise. 

It was March 20 1982 and Bruce Dickinson was making his debut headline performance at the iconic west London venue. The Number Of The Beast wouldn't be released for another couple of days (and wouldn't hit the top of the charts in the UK until a few weeks later on April 10), but Maiden knew they needed to do something special for the gig. 

Lugging along a full film crew, the band decided to film the gig for the live album Beast Over Hammersmith, chucking a few theatrical twists into their set that would later become iconic parts of their live show. A 20-foot Eddie and dancing devils accompanied Iron Maiden, while Children Of The Damned enjoyed Hammer Horror worthy visuals courtesy of plumes of dry ice. 

But for 22 Acacia Avenue, the band went down a slightly different route with the inclusion of an exotic dancer, who looks unsettlingly like Bonnie Tyler, at first glance at least, coming out to dance at the front of the stage. It's decidedly more Mötley Crüe than Maiden's usual fare, but also fits the song's theme perfectly. 

One of the earliest Dickinson-fronted songs to appear in Maiden's set, 22 Acacia Avenue actually started life in Adrian Smith's former band Urchin. Brought over when Smith joined Maiden, the song took on new life as a sort-of sequel to Charlotte The Harlot from the band's self-titled debut album. 

The song has since gone on to become a fan-favourite and has been played live over 500 times, though (perhaps unsurprisingly) the band haven't opted to bring back the dance routine for subsequent performances.

After all, if it comes to a toss-up in the budget between exotic dancers and life-sized biplanes, we'd like to think we know which way Bruce's bread is buttered. 

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Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.