London O2 arena – 27 May 2017
It’s the first time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Iron Maiden in the flesh (does seeing Bruce Dickinson in Samson in 1979 give me any brownie points?) on the last night of their UK tour.
Given last week’s previous events security was relatively tight’ish, as fans entered through airport-style body scanners while armed police were to be seen in abundance.
Maiden fans really are dedicated. The ‘family’ as Bruce described them. Nearly to a man/woman I’d say 85% of the audience wore their Maiden regalia with pride and in brotherhood – they are all in the same gang wherever you are in the world. The number of different t-shirts on show, from over the years, was truly staggering. The old, the young, the tattooed, the bald, the long haired, the hipsters, the normal etc. from all over the globe their hugely loyal fan base was emblazoned with the iconic Eddie skull motif. Did I mention the flags? Chatting, drinking, eating, taking pictures and exchanging stories it was like the league of nations out there – one difference WE ALL GOT ON WITH EACH OTHER.
The queue for merchandising was long and winding and time consuming, but it didn’t stop the majority of fans from buying yet another t-shirt to add to the collection. The merchandising division must rake it in, but I’ll hand it to them they do some pretty impressive stuff.
I’m just waiting for the Iron Maiden retrospective at the V&A. You listening Steve!!
Up high in the gods, in a packed out O2 arena, enabled me to see the grandiose ancient Mayan jungle temple stage set in all it’s glory. Elaborately laid out with huge stone pillars with ramps, gaps and runs for Bruce to bound around energetically stoking up the crowd (in fairness that was an easy job!). The only Mayan thing missing was the human sacrifices – mind you many made extremely long journeys to be at the gig, so I suppose that counts! There was a steaming cauldron, pyrotechnics and the rear of the stage had constantly changing backdrops depicting the songs – oh and don’t forget a huge inflatable Eddie and the devil (guess which song that was for 😊 ??).
Two huge HD screens topped it off, so all those at the back could see with clarity. Good stuff chaps.
The sound was just pitch perfect with the band playing at ear-shredding volume without any distortion!
Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers riffed and solo’d throughout with gay abandon, whilst ‘West Ham emblazoned’ (we all have our crosses to bear) Steve Harris’s bass “machine gunned” the crowd whenever possible. Bruce is without doubt one of the greatest living frontmen in Rock and his iconic voice is simply phenomenal (all the more given the throat cancer scare a few years back). Drummer Nicko was sort of invisible behind his enormous drum kit, but thanks to the huge screens we could see he was thrashing around like a demon.
The band have been around so long that they are totally in sync with each other and they performed with energy and professionalism – “scream for me London” – and they did! A highly polished performance. Everything in this band just gels seamlessly. It’s clear that they all get on really well together. Joking and playing around on stage, they clearly were having as much fun as the fans.
Cue 15 foot Eddie who made his appearance during ‘The Book of Souls’. He stalked the band before Bruce ripped out his heart and threw it into the crowd (but sadly missed and it had to be mopped off the stage by a roadie – hey you can’t always get it right).
Much of the set came from their new album, but some old classics were there as well. For 1983’s ‘The Trooper’, Bruce wore his traditional Crimean War outfit and waved the Union Jack. Impressive stuff, the haunting sound of 20,000 voices singing ‘Fear of the Dark’ as one.
- If Eternity Should Fail – [The Book of Souls 2015]
- Speed of Light – [The Book of Souls 2015]
- Wrathchild – [Killers 1981]
- Children of the Damned – [The Number of the Beast 1982]
- Death or Glory – [The Book of Souls 2015]
- The Red and the Black – [The Book of Souls 2015]
- The Trooper – [Piece of Mind 1983]
- Powerslave – [Powerslave 1984]
- The Great Unknown – [The Book of Souls 2015]
- The Book of Souls – [The Book of Souls 2015]
- Fear of the Dark – [Fear of the Dark 1992]
- Iron Maiden – [Iron Maiden 1980]
- The Number of the Beast – [The Number of the Beast 1982]
- Blood Brothers – [Brave New World 2000]
- Wasted Years – [Somewhere in Time 1986]
Bruce said they had been away too long (no UK tour) and they wouldn’t make the same mistake again. They may be in their late 50’s but they have lots of life (and hair) left in them still based on this performance. I for one will be buying a ticket for their next tour.
This is Maiden, it’s what they do and it was bloody brilliant. At £50 a ticket it was a steal for 2 hours of head-banging fun.
Marko – 29 May 2017
PS – They played ‘Doctor Doctor’ by UFO before they came on and the crowd was going bonkers to the song! Well selected.
PPS – Shinedown were the support act. For what it’s worth, the PA was distorted and it was a wall of mediocre impenetrable noise. Not my bag at all. Someone is sleeping with someone for them to get this gig!