With the ability to tour far and wide in a customised 747 means it’s been a few years since metal giants Iron Maiden have made the trip to these shores. As most would know, the Book Of Souls tour was delayed due to singer Bruce Dickinson’s cancer treatment.
I was hoping for the best but I’m not the biggest fan of the album, thinking some of the songs are a few minutes too long, so open minded is probably the best way to describe my frame of mind.
First up for the evening were American rockers Shinedown. Being the opening band for Maiden has got to be one of the toughest opening spots in music. However, they are one of the biggest selling mainstream rock bands in the U.S. right now and although running through the ‘how to be a rock star handbook’ they seemed to have a pretty decent group of their own fans present to help with their mundane and slightly pointless performance.
Shinedown’s pop sensibilities hold rank at the band’s frontline being reminiscent of the heavier catalogue selections of 30 Seconds to Mars and Creed. Not my choice personally but that’s what makes music industry fascinating at the moment, there is something for everyone! 2.5/5
Now my favourite band is Iron Maiden, pretty much always has been. I’ve travelled continents just to see them. However, as I mentioned I was cautious after not being particularly impressed with the most recent album and worried about how Bruce’s (Dickinson) treatment would affect his vocals.
After the traditional opening song of Doctor Doctor faded, a cloaked Dickinson appeared over a smoking cauldron, to belt out the echo drenched lines to ‘If Eternity Should Fail‘. Any doubts I had were firmly quashed. The band sounded incredible give or take a few hiccups. Everyone seems visibly fitter (even with the erratic nonsense from Janic Gears) and totally focused on the job at hand.
After ‘Speed of Light‘ – also off the tour namesake album – outcomes ‘Wrathchild‘ and the simply spellbinding ‘Children of the Damned‘. ‘Death or Glory’ comes across so much more powerful and engaging live as does much of the new material.
Book of Souls highlight track ‘The Red and The Black‘ translated with less of a punch as the recorded version, instigating pick-up of busy trade at the bars located around the venue before picking up the pace and finally winning over the masses.
With the venue at fever pitch, we get a blistering rendition of The Trooper which included an impromptu manchild who felt compelled to launch himself (lemming style) off the 3Arena’s balcony into the packed main floor below! Thankfully this utter twat only harmed himself and the show continued without incident.
A flurry of classics continues to wow the 3Arena in the shape of ‘Powerslave‘, ‘Fear of the Dark‘ and ‘Wasted Years‘ all make appearances and without going into the whole setlist every song is perfectly placed during the night.
For me, Dave Murray stole the show as every lead break was sublime. Nicko’s drums sounded huge and the switch to drum manufacturer Sonor last year has worked beautifully (not to mention the gold hardware looks incredible on stage).
Steve Harris’s recent jaunt out doing club shows with British Lion seems to have no effect on the legendary bassist as he gives it 100% as per usual. Adrian Smith’s rhythm playing gets more and more locked in every tour.
Although Janick gets a hard time, I can’t really imagine Maiden without out his ridiculous antics. Also, his acoustic playing is superb, whether you like him or not. To be perfectly honest, this is the best I have ever seen Maiden when considering their performance on ‘The Final Frontier Tour‘. There seems to be a fire under the band and give the impression that they are determined to make a point more so than in previous tours. I genuinely felt like a teenager discovering them for the first time again.
Long story short, Iron Maiden are the best they have sounded in years. 4.5/5
Check out the photo gallery below, courtesy of AM Photo Star © 2017
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