Eddie lives! As does Iron Maiden. For this go-round the band is billing the tour as Legacy Of The Beast (complete with it’s own game) but it also coincides with 2021’s Senjutsu, a Japanese-themed record meaning tactics and strategy. It was a bit unusual that the band rammed the first three songs down the audience’s collective throat but at least we got to see Eddie dressed like an evil shogun as he lurched about stage. Singlehandedly, Dickinson is trying the stage a comeback to make pirate shirts cool again; he’ll probably have about as much success as Jerry Seinfeld but at least he cuts a much more striking figure in one. And, he actually knows how to fence and showed off his parrying skills with some swashbuckling moves against Eddie around the stage. Now that the new stuff was out of the way, it was time to plunder the deep, rich catalog of Iron Maiden, the stuff the diehards came out for.
As Dickinson noted after “Blood Brothers,” the Iron Maiden diehards come from all walks of life and from all countries scattered around the world. Some of them were on the rail with country-specific banners displaying their allegiance, others raised their arms in the air and let out a communal yell as Dickinson ran down a list of random countries. And while these sorts of fans are not averse to spending their hard-earned money on their favorite bands, post-Covid ticket prices are not cheap. That said, I can’t imagine anyone felt cheated by the production values of the show, and the packed arena certainly made their presence known; the vociferous throngs had no problems complying with Dickinson’s repeated exhortations to “SCREAM FOR ME, WORCESTER!”
“Sign Of The Cross” had a gothic, funereal feel to it as chemical smoke flooded the stage floor and a robed Dickinson took the illuminated cross from the edge of center stage and up across the back ramparts behind the drumkit, dimly lit iron chandeliers hanging from the lighting rig. “Flight Of Icarus” featured pyrotechnics, both from large flames shooting from the ramparts as well as hand-triggered flame throwers strapped to each of Dickinson’s arms as an large inflatable winged man deflated at the end of the song. Not quite Rammstein level but then again nothing is.
The ramparts also blew up as Dickinson scampered off at the tail end of “Run To The Hills” like he was high-tailing it from cannon fire. Careful planning and timing were in order so he didn’t get scorched but as a guy who can fly a 747, attention to detail is certainly a strong suit. The three guitar attack of Maiden can often feel like Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are doing the heavy lifting while Janick Gers is busy playing the court jester role, seemingly doing more leg stretches and guitar twirling than actual playing, but credit where credit is due- he ripped off a searing solo during “The Clansman.” Nicko McBrain is the constant pulse behind the music, hiding from sight behind his massive drum kit and pushing the relentless energy of the band. The true life and blood of the band though is Steve Harris, the only original member from the nascent 1975 beginnings of the band. Unflagging energy and enthusiasm and a severely underrated bass player, Harris sang along to every single song and the grin never left his face. Great to see someone unjaded after decades of doing this.
Once the title track from the album named after the band and the giant, fanged demon head behind McBrain disappeared as they closed the set, they ended with some bangers. Of course “The Trooper” was played, this time showing Eddie as a redcoat as Bruce fired a rifle with an American flag from the riser, resulting in sparks flying from Eddie’s head. Though I was a little disappointed not to hear “Two Minutes To Midnight” especially given Putin’s current saber-rattling behavior, “Aces High” with a giant WWII-era Spitfire hovering over the stage as the band unleashed the last of their energy, Harris’ machine-gunning coming to a glorious end. Up the irons!
Within Temptation answered the question as to what is the Dutch answer to Evanescence. I don’t recall ever asking that question, but now I know.
Primarily based in Boston, Massachusetts, Tim Bugbee is no stranger to traveling throughout the country or overseas to capture the best live music photos.