**Iron Maiden are one of my favorite metal bands of all time and they were easily the greatest live band I’ve ever seen.**
Like most metalheads, I’ll never forget the first time I fell in love with Iron Maiden. I remember being in high school and at the time I had only heard “Run To The Hills” previously and thought it was pretty cool, but when I bought the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack to the station “V-Rock” I heard “2 Minutes To Midnight” and I became hooked and forced to delve further into them; coincidentally, that soundtrack also got me hooked on Anthrax, Judas Priest, Megadeth, and Slayer. Iron Maiden has always been a band I hold dearly to my heart, in fact, they rank at number 3 on my favorite bands of all time list, I also have a Maiden tattoo on my left bicep (the first one I ever got, in fact). Needless to say, they are a band I’ve always wanted to see live but have never gotten the chance. After seeing Motorhead and Judas Priest live last year, I knew that I had to complete my NWOBHM trilogy by seeing Iron Maiden and declared I would not miss their next tour, so when I saw the first dates for their “Maiden England” tour featuring Coheed and Cambria, I was elated and bought tickets immediately.
Upon arriving at the Gexa Energy Pavilion-a venue I’ve become very familiar with over the years-I was happy to see the parking lot full of people tailgating and pre-gaming as if they were getting ready for a football game. When I got through the doors, obviously I made a bee-line towards the shirts where they had a huge variety of designs. Though the price for each shirt was $40, they had at least 15 different designs, and every one of them was awesome and featured art from previous albums and singles. After purchasing a shirt with some characters straight out of “Blade Runner” and Eddie in a trenchoat on the front and the artwork from “Somewhere In Time” on the back, I found my seats and waited for Coheed to come out.
Coheed and Cambria are a band that I was incredibly underwhelmed by the first few times I heard them, however, after seeing them live at Warped Tour in 2004, I became a huge fan. My Coheed fandom became even more rabid when I saw them live from on-stage at Warped Tour in 2007 but died off after their lackluster “Year Of The Black Rainbow” album. Nonetheless, I was incredibly psyched to see them again and they did not disappoint at all. Their set began with “No World For Tomorrow” and “Gravemakers and Gunslingers”, and both of them sounded absolutely incredible and brought me back to the time that album came out and I was completely obsessed with it. From there, they played “Delirium Trigger” and “Here We Are Juggernaut”, and both were pretty cool, but the real meat and potatoes of their set came with the last four songs. You could tell that the crowd was kind of whatever on Coheed and people weren’t into it much until they started “The Running Free” which was absolutely blistering and then they managed to win over all of the haters with their cover of “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath. From there they played fan favorites “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” and the massive “Welcome Home” and by this time I was incredibly fired up and ready for Maiden to start.
One thing I’d like to mention is the fact that…at most big concerts I’ve been to, whoever is running the sound usually doesn’t seem to care if they play good or bad music in between bands, but you could tell that there was alot of attention paid to the songs played over the P.A. before Maiden because it included Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Deep Purple, and finally, before they came on, they played “Doctor Doctor” by U.F.O. and had the crowd whipped into a major frenzy. Please note that I’ve included some pictures of the set that aren’t mine, but they give you a pretty good idea what it looked like, I’m also including links to Youtube videos of a few of the songs, so check those out.
The minute “Doctor Doctor” finished, the curtain rose and they began the intro to “Moonchild” which featured a video of ice caps melting and other arctic imagery that went along with the theme of the album cover for “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” which is the album the majority of the setlist was built around. After “Moonchild” they played “Can I Play With Madness”, another song from “Seventh Son”. The next song in the setlist was “The Prisoner”, one of my favorite Maiden songs of all time and it was certainly the first song of he evening to really get to me and get me all emotional.
When looking over the setlist, you can tell that they focused primarily on greatest hits, in fact, they played “The Trooper” and “Number Of The Beast” back to back which was a dynamic duo, and later they played “Run To The Hills” and “Wasted Years” back to back which left me out of breath from singing so loud. Some other highlights of the first part of the set were “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”, “Fear Of The Dark”, and “Iron Maiden” which was absolutely amazing, especially the crowd sing-a-long during “Fear Of The Dark” and the crazy stage prop of Eddie and a creepy guy playing an organ during “Seventh Son”.
Usually when a band does an encore it takes them a while to get off stage and then come back out, but with Maiden, it literally felt like they never left the stage. It seems like all they did after “Iron Maiden” was take a quick water break and change to the “Aces High” banner and off they went. The last three songs of the evening were “Aces High”, ” The Evil That Men Do” and “Running Free” and then they were done.
As far as my personal highlights go, my favorite songs were “The Evil That Men Do”, “Fear Of The Dark”, “The Prisoner”, “The Trooper” and “Wasted Years”, mainly because those are some of my favorite songs by them and they translated perfectly to the live show. The one thing I really noticed about Maiden now that I’ve finally gotten around to seeing them live is that despite their ages, they are still incredibly active on stage and don’t just stand around. Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris in particular went crazy. The other thing I noticed is that they sound massively heavy in person, thanks to their three guitarist onslaught as well as a setlist full of nothing but classics. It really seemed as if they never skipped a beat and the show went by super fast, almost in a blur, honestly. All in all, I have to say that Iron Maiden is definitely the greatest live show I’ll see all year, in fact, I’d definitely say that overall, this was the best concert I’ve ever been to because of things like the excessive pyro and the ever-changing banners and theatrics, plus the Eddie props and the setlist full of nothing but hits, and when you add on a band like Coheed as the opener, it all equals one night I’ll never forget.
One other thing that made the trip completely unforgettable was on the way back to the hotel after the show when my friend blew a rod in his truck that caused us to travel 50 mph down the interstate in a massive rainstorm hoping and praying we’d make it to our hotel, which we did. Even better is when I called my wife to come get my friends and I four hours away and she didn’t even hesitate to say yes. She’s definitely a keeper!
All in all I’m incredibly glad I was able to scratch Maiden off of my bucket list and while we were headed home I couldn’t help but think about the next show I’d be going to that weekend which you can read about tomorrow. Be sure and keep up with my site on Facebook for more reviews and updates and thanks for reading!