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Summer of ’98…………..with apologies to Bryan Adams

Oh, when I look back now

That summer seemed to last forever

And if I had the choice

Yeah, I'd always wanna be there

Those were the best days of my life” – Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams

I do not recall the summer of 1969 as I was not born yet but I have very fond memories of the summer of 1998 because it was magical. In 1997 the government set up the Ta’ Qali National Park Committee, coordinated by Massimo Ellul, with the intention of bringing to Malta famous acts and artists to serve as an attraction for tourists who wanted to enjoy some good bands and spend a few days in Malta. These big names would be an attraction to Maltese punters too and serve as a good showpiece for Maltese supporting acts. During the summer of 1997 the National Park Committee organised concerts by Fish, Bonnie Tyler and the Spicey Girls but nothing could have prepared us for what was to come in 1998.

During a press conference in March 1998, the Ta’ Qali National Park Committee announced the following celebrated names were performing in Malta:

Iron Maiden – 30 May 1998

Deep Purple – 6 June 1998

Demis Roussos – 18 July 1998

Alannah Myles – 8 August 1998

Status Quo – 22 August 1998

Fish – 5 September 1998

Needless to say, to me personally Iron Maiden and Deep Purple were the largest attraction, though I only skipped the Demis Roussos concert and Fish.

It was not the first visit by Iron Maiden to the Maltese Islands as they have performed at the Thunder Discotheque in Victoria, Gozo on 14 January 1996, supported by Lord Adder.

In May 1998 Iron Maiden were on their Virtual XI World Tour. On the appointed day some 5,500 metal heads turned up at Ta’ Qali to witness one of the greatest live metal bands ever. The tour had started on 22nd April 1998 in Norwich, England and ended on 12 December 1998 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ta’ Qali w as the 25th date of the tour. Incidentally this was also the last tour with Blaze Bayley on vocals, as the legendary Bruce Dickinson was back in the Maiden fold a year later.

Keeping in mind the logistical problems encountered before the concert in Gozo, the National Park Committee went out of their way to see that this would be a memorable experience. Unfortunately, the sound was not of the best quality when Angel Dust hit the stage, but it improved greatly when it was time for veterans Acid to entertain the crowd. The crowd went berserk when Maiden finally hit the stage and the frenzy reached fever pitch when the band’s mascot, Eddie, made his obligatory appearance during Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden’s line up for their Ta’ Qali concert consisted of Blaze Bayley on vocals, Steve Harris on bass, Dave Murray and Janick Gers on guitars and Nico McBrain on drums. The set list was as follows:


The Angel And The Gambler

Man On The Edge

Lightning Strikes Twice

Heaven Can Wait

The Clansman

When Two Worlds Collide

Lord Of The Flies

2 Minutes To Midnight

The Educated Fool

Sign Of The Cross

Hallowed Be Your Name

Afraid To Shoot Strangers

The Evil That Men Do

The Clairvoyant

fear of the dark

Iron Maiden


The Number Of The Beast

The Trooper


Voiceless, but with a huge grin on our faces we left the venue to return on June 6th.

Deep Purple were on their Abandon Tour, in support of their sixteenth studio album. Being a keyboardist I made a bee line for the front to watch the legendary Jon Lord (1941-2012) in action and the wizard did not disappoint. Apart from the absence of virtuoso guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple turned up for their Malta concert with the rest of the original line up.........Ian Gilan, bassist Richard Glover, drummer Ian Paice and as I mentioned before Jon Lord on keys. Blackmore was replaced by ex-Kansas guitarist Steve Morse. Purple were supported by Winter Moods and Purple Haze. The set list was as follows:

Hush (Joe South cover)


Strange Kind of Woman

Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic

Pictures of Home

Fingers to the Bone

Almost Human

Woman from Tokyo

Watching the Sky

Seventh Heaven

Guitar solo

Smoke on the Water

Evil Louie

Keyboard solo


Perfect Strangers

Speed King


Black Night

Highway Star

The Alannah Myles and Status Quo concerts were great, but for me faded in comparism with experiencing Iron Maiden and Depp Purple up close and personal. The latter event was supposed to become Malta’s Woodstock but it ended marred in controversy as regards to the participation of the Maltese bands. Six bands pulled out because of what they claimed to be unfair treatment. The event started at 4.30pm instead of 10am, as originally planned, with Jane Eyre, Fire and Filletti & Friends hitting the stage before Status Quo.

Well 25 years have passed since that summer and many great bands have left their mark on the local scene...........too many to mention in fact. But that summer keeps coming back to haunt my memories. It could be that it was the first experience for me, and many of my contemporaries to witness so many acts in such a short space of time..........pity that the whole Ta’ Qali National Park experience fizzled out so fast.

The only thing that I am sure of is when I look back now, that summer seemed to last forever, and if I had the choice, yeah, I'd always wanna be there, those were the best days of my life................back in the summer of ’98.

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1 Comment

Noel Mifsud
Noel Mifsud
Feb 28, 2023

That summer was indeed special to every Maltese rock enthusiast. Credit to Bryan Adams, he did deliver an outstanding show on the 28th June 2007 at Luxol Grounds, St. Andrews.

Thanks Keith for your contribution, may this be the first of many.

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