Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Concert Review - Iron Maiden part two

The Iron Maiden performance at the White River Amphitheater on Monday was out of this world. The band was super tight, the set list was a dream and for a bunch of guys who are roughly 50 and older, they still run around like they are 23 and put on one of the most high energy, exhilarating shows on the tour circuit today.

From Aces High, the opener, to Hallowed Be Thy Name, the encore closer, we got the cream of the 80s Maiden crop, as this tour (called the Somewhere Back In Time Tour) focuses on the band's 80s heyday. All the way down to the massive, awesome 1985 Powerslave stage set, which has been augmented considerably.

That's not to say the band is riding on its past. The previous tour saw the band playing its new album A Matter of Life and Death end to end, which only left room for three (yes three) other songs. Fly by night fans were pissed but I was thrilled. Who takes that kind of a risk anymore? And by the way, the album is fantastic. If you dig Maiden, get it now. Might be their best since Seventh Son.

Back to Monday's show...

Thinking about my past Maiden shows (seen them eight times now), I usually focused on bassist and founder Steve Harris, as he is so dynamic and all over the place. This time around though, I mostly watched Dickinson.

First up, I was wondering if he could still hit the notes. And by far he still can. Seemed like on previous tours, he was losing a bit of his vocal top end. But the only place I heard him have a bit less power is in the power parts like the intro scream of Number of the Beast and the scream out of the center section of Rime of the Ancient Mariner. But for the most part, he can still deliver. The dude is in great shape vocally.

And he is still metal’s most enthusiastic cheerleader, but not in a cheesy way like Paul Stanley. He runs back and forth, whipping up the audience during guitar solos or instrumental sections. He’d leave the stage for longer breaks and then come bounding out in a costume or mask. His between song banter is actually pretty funny and he seems to be loving what he's doing. He just looks like he's having the time of his life, and it rubs off on the audience.

In The Trooper, he donned a Union Jack coat and waved an enormous tattered flag with bullet holes and burn marks.

In Rime of the Ancient Mariner he wore a long worn coat fitting for someone lost at sea (he didn't wear an albatross thankfully), and he also had different jackets and headgear for other songs.

With the thematic nature of many of the songs, the elaborate stage settings, and Dickinson taking on characters in costume, Maiden is almost turning into Heavy Metal Theater. This sets them apart from most other bands. It’s almost like Peter Gabriel era Genesis where Gabriel dressed in costume to deliver the songs live.

The stage was backed by a giant screen that depicted album covers or backgrounds like an Egyptian tomb. These backdrops were actually curtains, and they used five or six different ones that would roll out as needed.

For Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the entire overhead light rig was lowered to provide a claustrophobic "lost at sea" feel, and in the center slow instrumental section, the entire rig rocked gently back and forth, making the whole stage look like a boat lolling on the waves.

The backdrop for the Somewhere in Time album made the stage feel like a futuristic city.

Now, mind you, all was not perfect. I have a pretty major gripe in fact, regarding guitarist Janick Gers.

When guitarist Adrian Smith left the band, they replaced him with the very capable Gers. When Smith rejoined, they didn't fire Gers. They just turned into a three-guitar band. Very cool - on paper.

However, Gers' style is a bit more of 80s shred than I like, and live, the dude is totally distracting. Between his phony windmills, swinging his guitar around and posing a la Paul Stanley, I had to make an effort to ignore him. We all noticed how the other two guitarists stayed away from him and even Harris seemed to be trying to ignore him. Frankly, the guy is embarrassing. And of course the other two guitarists had to sacrifice some solos so he has something to do, as he was not on any of the albums they are playing from on this tour.

Having said this, in a lot of spots it was cool to have the three part guitar harmonies from the albums duplicated precisely. Specifically Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Revelations and The Trooper. But I didn’t really miss those parts live 21 years ago and I wouldn’t miss them now. Lose this joker.

But overall, the show made me realize how many truly great songs Iron Maiden has. They had a sweet run of six or seven really great albums and just picking the cream of that crop makes for a night of killer music. In fact, the songs they chose NOT to play say a lot – they didn’t do Flight of Icarus, The Prisoner, and nothing off of Killers and only one song from the first album.

I could have done without Can I Play With Madness, Fear of the Dark and even Heaven Can Wait (except I would not want to take away Pat and Mady’s big sing along moment) and would like to have heard some more Paul Di'Anno era material, but what are ya gonna do? Dickinson said the next step for the band is to put out another new album and hit the States again, so maybe we’ll get some of that next time.

All in all, Maiden is in fine form and hopefully this North American tour will show the band that the U.S. still loves Maiden and that they should play here more frequently (next time in Portland, guys!).

Set list is below and you can see all of my photos here.

-- Intro - Churchill's Speech
-- Aces High
-- 2 Minutes to Midnight
-- Revelations
-- The Trooper
-- Wasted Years
-- The Number of the Beast
-- Run to the Hills
-- Rime of the Ancient Mariner
-- Powerslave
-- Heaven Can Wait
-- Can I Play With Madness?
-- Fear of the Dark
-- Iron Maiden
-- Moonchild
-- The Clairvoyant
-- Hallowed Be Thy Name

By the way, even though it is a bitch to get to, the White River is a great venue. Free parking, and we were out of the lot in 15 minutes. They let you bring in 'non professional' cameras. Of course, it's $8 for a can of Bud...

For part one of this review, which goes over our trip to the venue and some personal stories, go here.


Chris said...

I thought the show was fantastic. What was cool is a guy in front of me had on a 7th Son 1988 tour t-shirt on, with all the dates on the back. What I didn't realize is that the show on that tour that I saw (at the Seattle Coliseum), which Guns & Roses opened, happened exactly 20 years + 1 day before this show; it was on 6/1/1988. That was a great, great concert too.

I don't really get the hate for Janick, but a lot of people feel the same way you do. His antics are a bit much, but I think the three guitars sound cool. He doesn't really bother me, plus he seems like a real cool guy too.

Sue said...

The sets, commentary, and photos are great.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done and said. MHB told me about your blog. Nice shots too.


Anonymous said...

You left a nice comment on my blog regarding the Maiden show, so I cruised on over to your site. VERY NICE!! I swear to God the guy with the Pink Floyd shirt was DIRECTLY in front of me in Section 102. What a great show. You took some fantastic pics and that's about how it looked from where I was sitting. I was kicking myself for not bringing a camera. I'm in Camas, we should meet for a drink one of these shows.

-Matt (aka jammermatt) at 40 And Holding

Aaron \m/ said...

Hey man -

You posted on my blog and linked me here. Your review was awesome. There was one thing you mentioned that was incorrect though. You said Janick Gers era material wasn't represented. He was on the "Fear of the Dark" album (of which the title track was played).

Anyway, your pictures are great. I may use one as my desktop background if it is cool with you.


Tibi Puiu said...

It seems like you had a perfect night. Kudos for that! I've only been to two maiden concerts, but it was enough to realize they're a powerhouse live act. I'll be seeing them soon on August 4. Keep up the good work, man!

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

Great photos. You were a lot closer then we were.

phil said...

great review bro, thanks for the comment and for the good picutres.

Jim said...

Hey, man! You also posted on my blog and linked me here - fantastic review and great photos! I've seen Maiden twice now; Matter of Life & Death (loved they played the whole album and agree its their best since 7th Son)....

then caught them in a smaller venue on Somewhere Back In Time, in March - Was on the floor in the Pit and got 3 people away from the stage! Close enough to make eye contact with the guys several times - it was awesome!

and then again last weekend in a larger, outdoor venue in Irivine, CA.

You said it ALL in your review!
Thanks for the link!


Jim said...

er... make that THREE times... :)

Further on up the road said...

I'm off to see them in London next month.

Can't wait now given your review.

Last time I saw them was on the Live after death tour. I was really pissed off that there were a load of people there who were angry that they played the new material. But it was a tour to promote that album and a bloody good album at that and frankly to play the whole thing end to end took some balls.

In that gig they managed to burn out the feed to the venue (Earls Court) and had to go silent for 20mins while it was fixed. Bruce ran about with a megaphone and kept the crowd singing, shouting etc. throughout. True entertainer and professional.

We saw them at Reading in 2005 where they only played stuff from the first 4 albums, hence no doubt why a lot of the Paul D stuff isn't on this tour. Phantom of the Opera and The Trooper were standouts that night for me with Steve Harris' little boy as a small Eddie with red coat and union flag as well.

Akhor said...

Excellent Review, I like the fact that you've got all the stage photos and such!

I've added your review link to my review main article. Hope you don't mind.

=SKIP= said...


Thanks for the comment.

You scored way better pics and from the looks of it better seats.

The set list was different for us. Nothing but oldies. I am not super versed on the new album so I would not have been able to hang with that. Gimmie, "Trooper" "Run To The Hills", "Number of The Beast" as many times as you want. Ha.

Cheers dude.

Isorski said...

Great comments everyone. Feel free to use the photos anywhere you want. Just link folks back to my site somehow if it's easy to do. No biggie.

Maiden never fails to deliver, no matter the tour or era. I hope they keep it up for a while longer.