Old rockers are still amused by the term "heavy metal" because it was never them who described their music that way.

The phrase was initially coined and touted by the media in the 1980s and the old rockers have never understood why.

A heavy metal band conjures up lank-haired, manic musos with huge drug habits, chucking their heads round a lot, and whipping through frenzied dance-steps in pointy boots and rattling their chains suggestively.

A documentary on Thursday night on Prime titled Behind the Beast covering a world tour with old-school British heavy-rock band Iron Maiden was a revelation.


The old boys were all there, still sporting their lank tresses (except for vocalist Bruce Dickinson).

But what we saw was a superb business with an incisive company policy, great staff relations, gazillions in the bank, an enviable lifestyle and when they're not doing it - performing shows, that is - they're away home enjoying a quiet life.

These chaps are all in their fifties now and they look it. But, as we all know, age means nothing - you can push out the glitz and dazzle for as long as you like, as long as you can still attract the punters.

And that was no problem for these "Maiden boys" - they hauled in audiences no less than 50,000 through the gate at each concert with ease.

The Behind the Beast documentary has been praised worldwide and variously described as amusing, educating and endearing.

Really what this doco did was highlight those amazing people behind the scenes who are paid to take the load off the stars, even down to the band members not tuning their instruments any longer. There's one specialised tuner per band member - now that's success.

For the band, they just have to make sure the fave rock singlet is clean and ironed and then rip onstage and get into it. Instruments are all tuned, a special room is backstage with the right mineral waters, and these old rockers do what they do best - perform. But it's the support crew who are the unsung heroes.

The doco was a fascinating look at how a tour of this magnitude is done; everyone from production techies to lighting gurus. Timing is critical and these boys have it down to the last second - though I didn't find the endless footage of blokes plugging cables into sockets that amazing.


What was amazing was the sheer volume of the organisation.

And when the show kicked in, the sound was vivid, punchy and huge with visuals pouring out from an army of cameramen.

The set was described as "classic Maiden" and this doco was beautifully shot.

They are - without a doubt - still one of the world's's most rewarding big rock bands. To say their engineers ensured the audio for every show was flawless is not overstating it.

The whole onstage business is seamless and these guys are great musicians. Loud - yeah; colourful - yeah; brilliant - oh yeah.