Full disclosure; Iron Maiden are my favourite band so this review might not be the most objective/unbiased ever. The show took place in The O2 London, a venue I’d never visited before but will most likely visit again if I’m down in London (though £2.30 for a glass of water can get right to fuck, it doesn’t cost that much for a pint of beer where I live).
The ticketing system, for us at least, went off without a hitch. They were operating a ticketless system which for those who don’t know, requires the person who bought the ticket to provide their card at the door in order to receive a wristband. There were no physical tickets (hence ticketless) which is meant to deter scalpers, but has the unfortunate flaw of fucking you if you want to buy a ticket as a gift/can’t attend the show anymore etc.
Voodoo Six were first up, while not the biggest band who have supported Maiden they still worked the crowd well and were a welcome way to kill forty minutes or so (doors opened at 5.30 with Maiden taking the stage at 8.30 so there was time to kill).
Now the set doesn’t need a blow by blow account (though reading over this review at the end, seems to have got a lot of one). The Maiden England tour has been in full swing now for months with details plastered all over the web, including here during our Download Festival review. Some of the major points need to be addressed again, and one (or three) of those points is Eddie and the stage set.
This is probably the most visual Maiden stage set in years. Three Eddie’s take to the stage, one walks on in a hail of pyro sparks during Run To The Hills dressed as General Custer , another rises up behind the stage during Seventh Son of Seventh Son while a final one based on the Seventh Son album cover rises holding a kicking womb. The womb one actually manages to be a tad creepy when it starts kicking and moving after the second kick in during Iron Maiden (the song).
Apart from the Eddies, the stage is engulfed in pyro from the first explosion from the intro to Moonchild, through the spark burst of Can I Play With Madness, the flame towers of Number of the Beast and Aces High to the explosions in the lighting rig during Seventh Son. The most effective all might be when Bruce “controlled” the flame jets by pointing at a position on stage during Phantom of the Opera and making a FWOOSH sound to bring up the flames. As dramatic as that was (or not, it’s hard to be dramatic when talking about burning food), the Seventh Son monologue took it when he pointed at the pillars causing them to burst into flame after “So it shall be written, so it shall be done.”
An organ appeared on stage during Seventh Son adding a rare glimpse of the “seventh member” of Iron Maiden and Number of the Beast saw the usual rise of the beast to the right of the stage. Combined with the visual effects we also got an array of costumes from WW2 pilots hats (Aces High) to soliders outfit and flag (The Trooper). This all combined to make a hell of a visual feast.
The only downside for me was the lack of Hallowed, I know they’ve played it every gig for the last thirty or so years and definitely played it every time I’ve seen them but I still get excited when the band does the line up at the front of the stage while Bruce does his triple crowd cheer thing. Other than that though, the set couldn’t be faulted, it was classic after classic with rarities and favourites everywhere. An odd inclusion was Afraid To Shoot Strangers which, along with Fear of the Dark, was from a few years after the Maiden England era. No complaints though, both were fantastic live.
The band themselves were tight as fuck, it’s hard to believe they aren’t in their twenties and thirties listening to them, Bruce is still running about like a madman and though he doesn’t quite have the same range as before he has much more control over his singing (and is one of the few singers to still be singing in the same key, all the guitars are still tuned to standard all this time later). The instruments are as tight as ever and Nicko, the oldest member, is still a steam roller of a drummer with that single foot drumming style.
The crowd loved every second of it, where I was standing (or rather where I was being crushed to fuck while covered in sweat) the audience sang every word.
Steve said Maiden’s days were limited a while back, but after that show they don’t show any signs of stopping.