Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Concert Review - Iron Maiden

Caught Iron Maiden last night in the second week of their Final Frontier tour. As expected, the band did mostly material from its last three albums, much to the chagrin of many Maiden fans based on Internet chatter. I too wish they had struck a better balance between all the various eras of the band, mainly because I did not know the bulk of the material performed.

The day before, I had put together an iPod playlist of the set list (I had to buy most of it on iTunes), and we listened to it in the car. Great stuff for the most part, but I like to have a better grasp on a band’s music before seeing it live. Especially when the average song length is seven or eight minutes.

But last night, people were into it! It seems for example that Fear of the Dark, a song I had never heard prior to the last tour, is a huge fan favorite. Same with Brave New World. Huh.

The band exploded onto the new outer-space themed stage set after an opening of Mars The Bringer of War by Holtz. The Wicker Man was first and it went on from there. Two things really struck me this time. Bruce Dickinson’s voice was in top form, and Dave Murray was totally on fire. He has always been my favorite Maiden gunslinger even though Adrian Smith might be technically better. But Murray was totally inspired. His leads blew me away and he has that unique tone where he uses the wah pedal only part way engaged so it has that washy sound. Awesome.

Steve Harris was manic and precise as usual, and Janik Gers annoyed me far less than the last two tours. Probably because he has a big role in these latter era songs, as he played on those albums. I really enjoyed the three-guitar interplay, actually. Whether it was a three part harmony or a layer of three totally different parts, it was really interesting. You just don’t see bands with three virtuoso guitarists who equally share the spotlight.

The place was packed all the way back to the lawn. Dickinson joked that Maiden must be getting the overspill from the cancelled Christina Aguilera tour. Ha ha. The set was high energy and if people were pissed at the set list they didn’t let on. People stood the entire time, fists in the air, and again people seemed to know these songs and sang along all night.

Aside from the five older tunes, my favorites were the new El Dorado, which absolutely kills live (and I got the solo order wrong in my review – it’s Smith, Murray, Gers!), and the two songs from A Matter of Life And Death. I wish they had done more from that CD, as I still think it’s one of their best post Seventh Son efforts.

Reviews of the tour have overall been positive, performance-wise. Meaning, people bitch about the set list but in the next breath say, “But Maiden was awesome as usual.”

I think it just depends on when you discovered the band. Before the song Blood Brothers (which Dickinson dedicated to Dio, by the way – very cool), Brucie asked how many people were seeing the band for the first time. A LOT of hands went up and there was a sense of torches being passed. But instead of a KISS concert where the same old torch gets handed off, with Maiden you get a whole new set of tunes to call your own.

Put it this way – one kid I talked to (the son of a friend) brought his Brave New World CD for Steve Harris to sign. He told me that Out Of A Silent Planet from that album is the best song Maiden has ever recorded. He was very adamant about this. I had never heard the song before and I barely knew the handful of songs Maiden would pull live from that album.

But I realized on my way home that to this kid, Brave New World is his Powerslave. Or if you are even older than me, his Killers. This is the CD he probably discovered Maiden with and who am I to say it’s no good? He was rightly stoked they were going to do four songs off of it, as I was stoked last time to hear so much from Powerslave.

It’s very, very cool that Maiden can provide so many different frames of reference for its multiple generations of fans.

We heard that after this short tour of the States there is a World Tour and the band would be back to the U.S. next year. Will I go again? Likely, yeah. And you know what? I have Brave New World stuck in my head and am enjoying discovering some ‘new’ Maiden! Mission accomplished.

Set List:

The Wicker Man
Ghost Of The Navigator
El Dorado
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
These Colours Don't Run
Blood Brothers
Wildest Dreams
No More Lies
Brave New World
Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden

The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Running Free

Short video I took of Wrathchild:

As usual, my buddy Pat who knows Steve Harris from the early 80s got us all passes so we were able to say a quick hi to Steve and then I was able to wander a bit near the latter part of the show to take some close up photos. Here are a few of the better ones overall:


    Mr. Mike said...

    I saw them play at Concord last Sunday and had a great time. Didn't prep for the set list like you did, that was smart because I only knew about 3 of the songs that were played. Nice pictures :)

    Paul said...

    I'll be seeing them in August for the first time since the Piece of Mind tour. Maiden of one of those rare older bands where I actually enjoy their new stuff as much or more than the old classics. I think they are more progressive now.

    Dr. John said...

    Paul - love the review. Wrath Child is one of my old Maiden faves.
    Just wondering, how was Dream Theater as an opening act?

    Isorski said...

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. John, I was excited to see DT, as I had never seen them before and I gotta say I was underwhelmed. Yeah they can play fast but that gets old after abut five minutes. I took off half way through to take a pee, ran into my friend Pat and went to grab a beer.

    Rob Liz said...

    I think Maiden did enough classic stuff to satisfy without taking away from the goal which was to come back to the newer stuff. They did play 3 tracks from pre-Dickinson era. Two of the encore tracks were early Dickinson era and Fear of the Dark is coming up on 20 years almost since it's release.
    But yeah...if a band can play unfamiliar material and still keep the audience engaged, they're pretty good live:)

    Chris said...

    Wish I hadn't messed up when it came time to get tickets for this show. I'm a fan of the new stuff as well, so I would have liked to see it. There's always next time, though. Great pictures.

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