Review: Iron Maiden at London O2 Arena: Gig Review 11 August 2018

UFO’s classic ‘Doctor Doctor’ announces the band will be on imminently.  It’s all dark and Churchill’s June 1940 speech echo’s around the arena supplemented by big screen video of Spitfires in action in the Battle of Britain.  Then the Maiden guitar assault launches with a gobsmacking ‘Aces High’.  Bruce runs on and leaps over his camouflaged foldback speaker, resplendent in flying goggles, leather hat and pants.  Out of the rafters comes a 90% sized Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb replica that manoeuvres round the stage in mock combat.  What a spectacle!  The sold-out O2 went mental.

For the first 5 songs the stage is totally covered in camouflage netting, including Nicko stuck in his drum set alcove.  Are we going to see him?  Bruce only speaks twice, once after the first few songs to give us a stirring rendition of the sacrifices the young men of the RAF made during the Battle of Britain to give us our current freedoms and again at the end of the show to say thanks (see video link further in the piece) and drink some Trooper beer.  He mentions Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring thinking they were going to overrun the English easily – “well FUCK him” – queue great applause and much cheering!  “We have our freedom thanks to the brave men who fought in WW2”.

So, the first 5 songs are all to do with war and with each song appears a fascinating new curtain backdrop mostly featuring Eddie in one of his guises.  Bruce introduces ‘The Clansman’, a song about William Wallace (Braveheart) who “stood up to his oppressors” the English in this case.

Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK tour

Generally, the sound was somewhat swirly and Bruce’s vocals were not to the fore of the mixing so often it was hard to catch the words – but hey, it was a spectacle and we all know the words off by heart anyway don’t we #Maiden!

Eventually Nicko appeared for ‘Revelations’ (some irony there I think!), well sort of appeared as he was hidden behind his huge multi-coloured kit which itself was indented within the speaker stack so you didn’t really see him at all.  Nor did he get much air time on the giant video screens, just as well he’s not paid on viewing time!!  We finally got to see him at the end of the gig when he threw in a few drum sticks and drum lids to the baying audience.

There are pyrotechnics galore, bursts of flame, firework sparkles, a hand-held flamethrower, vast models of Icarus and The Beast, Eddie the trooper mock fighting Bruce, a giant swinging noose, various costume changes (depicting the songs inc. a Dracula-style cape, Venetian mask and light, a large cross with bright lightbulbs that Bruce carried around the stage), gargoyles and a brightly coloured stained-glass chapel set covering all the speaker stacks and Nicko’s drum kit.  You had to really concentrate to keep up with everything going on.  Plus ever changing backdrop curtains.

Iron Maiden’s setlist at the O2 London 11 August 2018

Winston Churchill’s Speech

  1. Aces High [Powerslave, 1984]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 11 Aug 2018
  2. Where Eagles Dare [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  3. 2 Minutes to Midnight [Powerslave, 1984]
  4. The Clansman [Virtual XI, 1998]
  5. The Trooper [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  6. Revelations [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  7. For the Greater Good of God [A Matter of Life and Death, 2006]
  8. The Wicker Man [Brave New World, 2000]
  9. Sign of the Cross [The X Factor, 1995]
  10. Flight of Icarus [Piece of Mind, 1983]
  11. Fear of the Dark [Fear of the Dark, 1992]
  12. The Number of the Beast [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  13. Iron Maiden [Iron Maiden, 1980]Iron Maiden - Legacy of Beast 2018 UK dates


  1. The Evil That Men Do [Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988]
  2. Hallowed Be Thy Name [The Number of the Beast, 1982]
  3. Run to the Hills [The Number of the Beast, 1982]

Bruce end of gig speech

The Band

All three guitarists interlock on most songs, each having a quick bit in the spot light.  Janick Gers swings his guitar around his head and hop, skips and runs around the stage like a demented imp.  Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are more stationary and stay mostly stage right and do what they’ve been doing for 38+ years with immiserate skill and professionalism i.e. play great guitar licks and solos.  Steve Harris as usual is dressed in shorts and West Ham themed vest and guitar strap, in truth he plays better than them (couldn’t resist that Steve!!).  Steve and Nicko hold down the tempo on the rhythm section like their lives depended on it.  All told a bunch of musos at the top of their game and genre!  I bet it’s fun being in this band.

It’s all held together by Bruce’s omnipresent stage presence – surely one of the greatest front men of all time.  He’s just turned 60 and his hair is starting to grow longer once more since his cancer treatment.  Sweat-drenched early on he never stops running stage left/right/up/down all night.  Leaping jumping and shouting his trademark “scream for me [fill in your city here] London” he gets the devoted audience involved and singing along to the classics.  You can’t take your eyes off him and his theatrics, so it’s good that he disappears behind the set during the extended solos to give the rest of the band some admiration (plus he’s got to do the costume changes).

The Songs

60% of the songs are from 1980-4 and the rest singular ditties from a smattering of 1998-2006 LPs.  Classics and some rarely played songs.   ‘Where Eagles Dare’ has the backdrop of the famous cable car scene from the classic film of the same name.  Their mascot, Eddie, appears only once as a 12-foot cavalryman, sword fighting with Bruce during ‘The Trooper’.   On ‘Revelations’ and ‘For the Greater Good of God’ the stage transforms into a stained-glass chapel.  ‘Sign of the Cross’ ushers in monk chants and Bruce carrying a large cross around the stage dressed like Dracula.  During ‘The Flight of Icarus’ a huge winged figure straight out of Greek mythology appears at the back of the stage with Bruce having fun armed with his mic and a flamethrower in each hand (aka doing a Rammstein).  And when a red-eyed, horned satanic demon appears you got to know it’s going to be ‘The Number of the Beast’ as the band play inside a mocked-up Hades.

Iron Maiden seem to raise the bar every chance they get, and boy did they spend some money on this lavish extravaganza.  A giant swinging noose appears from the rigging during ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and the climax, ‘Run to the Hills’, goes out all guns blazing, lights galore and ends with Bruce detonating a massive TNT explosive.  And so endeth this brilliantly staged, two-hour rock show – a heavy metal opera of sorts.  It covers war, religion, hell and damnation (they must surely take on the 4 horsemen next!) all done in the best possible taste. This theatrical heavy metal show is a classic, it won’t be outdone – unless that is Maiden do it themselves – are you up for a challenge boys?

So, in my mind Maiden have totally out done any of their previous shows by pushing the boat out to the limit with this fantastic theatrical set.  It’s visually their most extravagant show by a country mile.  So, if Nigel Tufnel can get his amp knob to 11 (oh err missus)  then Maiden certainly ratcheted this gig up to 11 as well!

Marko [12 August 2018]

Ps – a massive thank you to AEG from whom I got free tickets for the gig.  They are a new client of my company and I cheekily asked if they had any spares 24 hours before the gig – you don’t ask you don’t get!! Two great seats waiting for me at reception.

PPs – they were supported by a band called Killswitch Engage.  Not for me, it sounded the same for every song and the only person that gets away with shouting on songs is alas no longer with us – RIP Chester Bennington.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy concert review [2 Aug 2018] ‘Under the Bridge’ London gig

Wow, stunning, exciting, powerful, electrifying, spell binding, 1hr 50 mins of total wonderment! 

As I’m writing this I’m still in awe of last nights performance.  Stunning musicianship from people at the top of their game.  As I went down the stairs I immediately saw Carl’s somewhat reduced drum kit (well it’s not the 70’s any more 😊) centre stage and that was it.  Keyboards? What no keyboards, surely some mistake?  Correct no keyboards!  Instead Carl was brilliantly supported by two outstanding guitarists in the form of Paul Bielatowicz (guitars) and Simon Fitzpatrick (bass and Chapman stick).  Add a bit of technical wizardry, and some hocus pocus black magic and you get keyboard sounds played on guitar!  Bloody marvellous, you can’t fail to be impressed.  Also, as I was to find out NO vocals either.  As it happens this didn’t detract from the show one tiny bit.  It was still mesmerising to watch.

Now then as is my want I can always see a looky-likey in the band and Paul looks like an early cross of Steve Howe/Steve Hillage and Simon has a passing resemblance to Novak Djokovic.

Under the Bridge, is a great venue (under the East Stand at Chelsea FC Stamford Bridge stadium) where you can get right up to the band.  It was say 80% full with grey haired and bald prog rockers of a certain age (yes they were all old enough to have seen the great bands in the 70’s) plus a smidgen of their offspring and partners.

Carl Palmer ELP Legacy logo

The band generated a wave of sound playing their instruments as if their lives depended on it.  Carl is no spring chicken at 68 but by hell he pounded the living daylights out of his drum kit.  Fit as a fiddle the bloke is.  They all looked to be having such fun together playing some classic prog tunes to a wildly appreciative audience. Paul in particular was constantly smiling (probably thinking I can’t believe I’m in Carl’s band I’ve got the best bloody job in the world).  I’ve always admired a guitarist who plays every single note with his mouth! His face contorting wildly to every note he played.  His technical ability is stunning and his onstage presence was infectious!  Steve, is a typical bassist i.e. not much movement, but hell can he play the 6-string bass and 10-string Chapman stick.  And then there’s Carl holding it all together with his years of experience.  He’s a powerhouse of complexity and energy – still one of the best drummers around!

They started with “Abaddon’s Bolero” in darkness until halfway through when the lights came on.  They then kicked into a storming “Karn Evil 9”.  Between most songs Carl popped out from behind his kit and introduced songs or gave us some anecdotes about his old band members, Keith and Greg who sadly both passed away in 2016, before once again disappearing behind the drums to apply sheer vigour pounding the skins.  Things slowed things down a bit during the complete version of “Trilogy”.  

Each band member did a solo (well it is prog rock after all!!).  Simon on the Chapman stick doing a medley of “Take a Pebble / Maple Leaf Rag / From the Beginning”, playing rhythm and lead simultaneously – wow!  Paul’s guitar solo was Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”, his fingers flowing across the frets like Tinkerbell spraying fairy dust all over the strings.  Carl obviously nailed his drum solo getting a big roar every time he hit the huge gongs behind his seat. 

He introduced a song Greg wrote, an extraordinary bombastic version of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which had everyone in delirium.  The songs were chosen carefully i.e. ones without too many vocals but when he gave us the story of “Lucky Man” breaking them big in America I was wondering how are they going to pull this one off?  I’m still not sure how they did it with the instruments doing the ‘singing’ but they did with aplomb!  They wrapped it up with “Fanfare for the Common Man” and encored with a bastardised version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” aka “Nutrocker”.

Setlist (click link to view YouTube video)

  1. Abaddon’s BoleroCarl Palmer ELP legacy [2 Aug 2018]
  2. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
  3. Tank
  4. Knife-Edge
  5. Trilogy complete
  6. Bass Solo
  7. Canario
  8. 21st Century Schizoid Man
  9. Guitar Solo
  10. Hoedown
  11. Lucky Man
  12. Tarkus
  13. Carmina Burana
  14. Fanfare for the Common Man
  15. Nutrocker

The musicianship throughout is just incredible, exactly what you’d expect from a prog band!  I was astonished by the mind-blowing musicianship on stage tonight.

At the end, time for one last beer and then of to the merch stall and meet the band who kindly took time out to meet and greet their fans and sign stuff, pose for photo’s and chat.  Yes I’ve now proudly got a Tarkus drum skin, all signed, proudly sitting on my wall and am waiting to frame the pic of Carl and yours truly!


The spirit of Emerson, Lake and Palmer lives on through Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, as the song says “You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.  You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll”.  “Ooh, what a lucky man I was. . .”.

Thank you Carl, prog royalty in deed, for keeping the ELP flame burning brightly.  Long may you continue to charm audiences.  I for one will be going again!  For £25 it’s the bargain of the year!  As my mate Nick said, “sometimes you’ve just got to put your phone down and watch”. 

Before I forget, the new band logo is just a brilliant bit of inspiration.  Keeping the classic ELP logo and juts extending the L to Legacy.  10 out of 10 for the guy on Photoshop!!

Marko [3 Aug 2018]