Last night I had the pleasure of experiencing for the second time in my life, a concert performance by THE best live heavy metal band in the world: IRON MAIDEN! As part of the tail end of the Maiden England North American Tour 2012, they played at the Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas, Texas. Opening for Maiden was the alternative metal band Coheed and Cambria, promoting their new double album The Afterman, who put on an impressive set including songs such as "Running Free" and "Welcome Home". The weather was a typical August night in North-East Texas, in the mid-90s but cloudy. Just as Coheed & Cambria finished their set, there were huge, dark, thunderstorm clouds on the horizon, but thankfully the storm went around us and brought with it a cooling breeze as night fell and Iron Maiden began. Before Maiden began however, the venue played "Doctor Doctor" by UFO over the loudspeakers in tribute. Iron Maiden's stage set up had an arctic theme to it with large murals of icebergs which was accompanied by a video montage of arctic settings during the introduction followed by the song "Moonchild".The show continued as Maiden played "Can I Play with Madness" followed by "The Prisoner" with an introduction on screen of scenes from the song's namesake: the cult 1960's British TV show The Prisoner. After playing "2 Minutes to Midnight", singer Bruce Dickinson spoke about a show they did for the U.S. 7th Cavalry followed by "Afraid to Shoot Strangers". As the band went into "The Trooper", which has become one of their most notable songs, Bruce Dickinson dons a British military "red coat" uniform and proudly waves a large United Kingdom Flag, a.k.a. "Union Jack". As the band started to play "The Number of the Beast", which is arguably their most popular song (and one of my favorites) they featured a large hoofed devil-figure atop the stage who turned his head surveying the crowd as they played.
Next they played "Phantom of the Opera" and "Run to the Hills" where surprisingly, they brought out their mascot Eddie, dressed in a caricatured General Custer costume. Afterwards they continued with "Wasted Years" (another fan-favorite), followed by one of their longest songs: "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and then "The Clairvoyant". They finished their set with the highly popular "Fear of the Dark" and of course their title song from their first album: "Iron Maiden". While their set included mostly classic and popular songs, (however devoid of such favorites as "Hallowed Be Thy Name" or "Be Quick or Be Dead") I was surprised they did not include any songs from the more modern albums such as Brave New World (2000) or even their most recent release The Final Frontier (2010) which was featured prominently during their 2010 tour, which was the last time I saw Iron Maiden at the same venue (See my past review). The show did however feature more songs from the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) and Fear of the Dark (1992) era, which no doubt pleased many of the fans. Of the many changing depictions of Eddie on their various backgrounds and stage props, the most impressive was from "Seventh Son..." including a huge mechanical Eddie complete with pulsing brain in hand!After a short break the band returned for an encore with "Aces High" which included images from WWII era news reels and Winston Churchill's famous speech. They ended the show with "The Evil That Men Do" and another old-school hit, "Running Free". While the crowd was clearing out, as usual, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's The Life of Brian over the speakers.
It never fails that Iron Maiden consistently delivers extraordinarily fantastic shows and has rarely disappointed fans over the 30 years of their existence. It has always been Iron Maiden's forte to provide quality shows utilizing their own unique qualities of musicianship, theatricality and showmanship. Over the years they have included several new features into their live shows from huge multimedia presentations, lights and pyrotechnic effects, along with complex mechanized and animatronic characters with the various incarnations of "Eddie". This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Number of the Beast (1982) in which singer Bruce Dickinson replaced original vocalist Paul Di'Anno, leading the band to a whole new level of success and popularity. Despite Bruce having left the band in 1993, and he was replaced by briefly Blaze Bayley, but Bruce returned in 1999 and has since continued on with the continuation of the band's definitive lineup. Even after over 30 years Iron Maiden continues to be THE best live heavy metal band in the world, achieving worldwide fame and acclaim particularly due to their ability to travel anywhere in the world thanks largely to their own personal 757 jet-aircraft "Ed Force One" piloted by Bruce Dickinson himself. (See the documentary Flight 666). For any fan of Iron Maiden or live heavy metal shows, theirs is always an exciting and rewarding experience definitely NOT to be missed! \m/
LINKS: Iron Maiden Official Website, Iron Maiden on Facebook, Iron Maiden on Twitter