It’s been 6 years since Iron Maiden have done a full UK tour. Yes, we can argue they do the festival circuit so there has been no shortage of chances to see them, but this tour is all about bringing The Book of Souls to the masses.
Along for the ride on this Journey are Shinedown (8) a band on paper who seem like a bit of an odd choice for this type of show. But that seems to be where there strengths lie. They know this isn’t their crowd, but they never let the audience know it. This is my first time seeing them live and I will admit they impressed me. It’s not hard to see why they sell out big venues back home. They are a tight and engaging live presence and they know how to work an audience. Frontman Brent Smith even climbs in to the amassed crowd for a wander at one point which is a nice touch. Shinedown are never going to be for everyone, but tonight they prove why they are worth a chance. They deliver an energetic, memorable set this is full of passion and also appreciation, and I think they made a few new friends in the process.
But as we all know tonight is about Iron Maiden (10). Debuting a slightly modified version of Their Book of Souls stage show that they took around the festivals of the world last year, this is a long awaited treat for much of the audience.
You should know what to expect from Iron Maiden nowadays. Pure Heavy Metal Pantomime of the highest orders and some of the best metal songs ever written. Tonight’s set is built around the aforementioned Book of Souls. It features a stage that looks like Mayan Ruins, a lot of pyro, little bit of voodoo and a whole lot of Eddie. Visually speaking the set is very eye catching and one of the best they have ever assembled.
The newer material slots seamlessly into the set and many of the songs are already being treated like old classics. ‘The Red & The Black’, ‘Death or Glory’ and ‘Speed of Light’ get the biggest reactions and rightfully so as they are trademark Maiden.
Fear not though, they still have time for the classics. ‘The Trooper’ complete with flag wielding frontman Bruce Dickinson makes an appearance. As do favourites like ‘Wrathchild’, ‘Children of the Damned’ and ‘Fear of the Dark’ and of course we get the now traditional main set closer ‘Iron Maiden’ with obligatory appearance by menacing mascot Eddie looming over the band. The closing encore of ‘Number of the Beast’, ‘Blood Brothers’ and ‘Wasted Years’ ensures that everyone goes home happy tonight.
You know exactly where you stand with Iron Maiden, as tried and tested as their show is, it never fails. The reason why they have stood the test of time is because they play with a fire that cannot be matched. In some cases showing they are more full of life and energy than a lot of their younger counterparts.
My only real complaint is and it’s a minor one at that, is that the band has such a vast and varied catalogue of music that it seems like a lot of amazing songs never see the light of day live anymore which is a real shame. That niggle aside. Tonight is an absolute winner, from a legendary band who if this is anything to go by are showing absolutely no signs of slowing down any time soon. They hit everything dead on and looked like they were having the time of their lives doing it.
Iron Maiden photo credit – John McMurtrie.