At GM Place on Thursday, June 24
Just over two years ago Iron Maiden touched down at the Pacific Coliseum on the whirlwind Somewhere Back in Time world tour—during which it played 23 concerts on five continents in 45 days—and tore the roof off the place. They started that show with guns a-blazin’ via the galloping ’80s epics “Aces High” and “Two Minutes to Midnight”, and went on to include the rifftastic thrasher “The Trooper” and the tunefully engrossing “Wasted Years” in the set. Those are four of the band’s best songs, proven crowd pleasers, so it’s surprising that they’ve all been deleted from the current tour and replaced with four tracks from 2000’s middling Brave New World album. It just didn’t make sense. In fact, it was bloody insane! No wonder Bruce Dickinson hit the stage wearing a black tank top emblazoned with the words PSYCH WARD.
“Welcome to the final frontier!” bellowed the iron-lunged singer as he quickly started plugging The Final Frontier, the band’s 15th studio album, due for release this August. Surprisingly, again, Maiden previewed only one track from that album, “El Dorado”, which has already been released as a free download. Though not as memorable as the band’s best work, the new tune does motor along nicely and allow speedy guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers to get their freewheeling jollies.
Dickinson was his typical outgoing self. “There are music fans and there are heavy-metal fans, and then there are Iron Maiden fans!” he hollered, doing his best to get the sold-out audience riled up. At one point he asked the fans how many of them were attending their very first Maiden show, and an awful lot of them screamed and pumped their fists. But since that’s precisely what old-school Maiden fans are prone to do, the survey results were somewhat questionable.
The singer also took time out to remember fallen rock hero Ronnie James Dio, who died of stomach cancer last month. The assembled masses needed little encouragement to send a message skyward via the “devil horns” hand gesture Dio picked up from his Italian grandmother.
Apart from 1981’s “Wrathchild”, the only song from its ’80s heyday that Maiden offered up during its regular set was “Iron Maiden”, the closing track on its self-titled 1980 debut (which featured original vocalist Paul Di’Anno). On that tune the band’s 10-foot-tall mascot, Eddie—decked out to resemble the titular fanged beastie in Predator—lumbered across the stage and started swatting at Gers, then headed back over to mess with Murray. It was only after a roadie came out and comically hooked Eddie up with his own white Strat that the towering troublemaker left the other guitarists alone. Those unwieldy Predator hands made it difficult to strum, so the accommodating Murray reached up and rubbed the neck of his guitar against the neck of Eddie’s to create a sound that the most hard-core Maiden fans surely found quite pleasing.
During the three-song encore—which included the classic tracks “The Number of the Beast”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and “Running Free”—Dickinson donned a British bobby’s hat and introduced the band, which also includes drummer Nicko McBrain and founding bassist-songwriter Steve Harris. Then he took the black toque he’d been wearing all night and tossed it into the crowd, where fully grown men battled desperately for possession of the sweat-soaked souvenir.
Such is the almighty power of metal, right, Ronnie?