Iron Maiden are living proof of the longevity of classic metal, continuing to sell out arenas, stadiums, domes, festivals, you name it. Age is but a number to the Maiden boys, and no that number isn’t the ‘Number of the Beast. The English metal legends are as energetic as ever with an obvious love for what they do. That is well and truly clear in the band’s insane tour schedule, playing at over 100 cities throughout the ‘Book of Souls’ tour, with lead man Bruce Dickenson flying the band city to city piloting Iron Maiden’s very own plane, the Ed Force One, named after their loyal mascot Eddy.
The six-piece didn’t just put on a concert but delivered a spectacle of brilliance. Coined ‘Dad music’ by some culturally uneducated so called ‘music lovers’, you get the feeling that some think they are a band full of old timers that can’t quite say goodbye to their blessed instruments. Far from it actually. Swinging guitars with velocity above their heads, jumping around the stage like they’ve just found out what Parkour is, and waving a giant British flag while screaming the words to ‘The Trooper’… if this is what ‘Dad music’ is then believe me it’s the place to be.
If metal did Cirque du Soleil, Iron Maiden would be top of that mantel. A stage themed to an Aztec setting, with each song decorated with the art of the infamous Eddy in different Aztec portraits, it was a sight to see. Opening number ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ began with frontman Dickenson burying his head in a smoking cauldron, whilst echoing out the eerie lyrics “Here is the soul of a man… Here in this place for the taking”. The set consisted of both new tracks from the ‘Book of Souls’ album, some old numbers that haven’t been heard in a while and also the fan favourites (although a missed ‘Run to the Hills’ not included). New tracks included album singles ‘Speed of Light’ and ‘Death or Glory’, with the latter involving Dickenson running around wearing a monkey mask. A welcomed bit of silliness to add to the enjoyment of the show. Also some of the lengthier album numbers were featured including ‘The Red and the Black’, ‘Book of Souls’ and ‘The Great Unknown’, as well as classic favourites ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘The Trooper’ and ‘Iron Maiden’. But the return of ‘Children of the Damned’ was a real highlight and of course the goose pimples were showing when the opening lines of ‘The Number of the Beast’ came on to the spooky voice of Vincent Price.
Bruce Dickenson probably will rely on some ball squeezing to hit them high notes now, but he’s still got that amazing vocal range that has given Iron Maiden such an iconic sound. His performance was floorless, along with a band of musicians that make every mouth-watering guitar solo seem so easy, every bass line so vital and every drum roll so powerful. The decades have definitely cemented this metal heroes as one of the best live bands out there.
There was a lot of engagement with the crowd and the band seemed genuinely thrilled and excited to be playing, thanking the fans at every occasion. There were some political digs about the “blithering idiots, now running the world, with their fingers on the nuclear button”. But Dickenson called out that “We don’t care where you come from or what you do in your spare time. If you come to an Iron Maiden show, you’re family.” It had that feeling as well. We we’re all there for one thing and that was to watch these legends do what they do best. Long live Iron Maiden!
review: Harry Owen