Saturday, July 17, 2010

Iron Maiden - July 11, 2010

The drunk in the men’s room said it best, “This is serious rock and roll!” And while I don’t feel he needed to repeat that phrase as many times as he did, I totally agree with his sentiment. Iron Maiden is serious rock and roll. And on a hot July night in Holmdel, New Jersey, the band set out to prove it yet again.

Iron Maiden never seems to get the credit they deserve. They are a touring force to be reckoned with. They still record relevant new music. They have a legion of devoted fans. Yet, radio ignores them, music critics don’t take them seriously, and retail record stores barely stock their albums.

But once again, at a sold out concert, Iron Maiden ruled the night. For this tour, known as The Final Frontier Tour (named after their forthcoming album), Iron Maiden were playing a lot of songs from their past 3 records. This initially did not go over well with fans, as message boards were peppered with negative comments. However, as Iron Maiden performed these songs live, every fan in attendance was singing, clapping their hands, and doing whatever Bruce Dickinson demanded of them.

As for the songs themselves, they were played with the power and energy that we’ve come to expect from this magnificent group. Opening song, The Wicker Man, found the amphitheater crowd screaming their lungs out and singing along with every word. The follow up, Ghost of the Navigator, was also well received. These fans were in all their glory witnessing one of the greatest live heavy metal bands of all time.

Maiden threw us all a curveball next. They deleted Brighter Than A Thousand Suns from the setlist and opted to perform Wrathchild instead. It received a huge roar of approval. The song sounded great live and the fans loved the inclusion of the early classic.

The night belonged to the modern classics though. Dance of Death, These Colours Don’t Run, Wildest Dreams, Brave New World, No More Lies, Blood Brothers, and The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg were all performed before another “classic” track would be played. And for all the negativity on the internet, the New Jersey crowd didn’t seem to mind the setlist one bit. Everyone sang the modern hits as Iron Maiden celebrated their last decade of music. There was also the inclusion of one new song (from their forthcoming album), El Dorado. A decent song that has me yearning for the new album to be released.

Bruce made mention of the fact that this show was sold out as well as the next night’s show at Madison Square Garden. He was proud that the band sold out these concerts. I’ve always thought that Maiden feels that have something to prove in the US, ever since the nasty comments Sharon Osbourne made about the band’s ability to tour in the states (back in 2005). It’s that chip on their shoulder that keeps them coming back strong.

We had lawn seats for this concert, and as the night wore on, my personal space got more and more invaded. At one point, I was practically hugging the guys in front of me due to having nowhere else to go. If I were surrounded by gorgeous women, this may have been less of a problem. Unfortunately, my section of the lawn contained nothing but big, sweaty dudes. And when you’re in tight quarters, big sweaty dudes suck.

We persevered and rocked on with Maiden in spite of the heat and sweat. Bruce Dickinson continued to rule the stage and the night. After the new hits were played through, it was time for some older Maiden. Fear of the Dark started a string of classic cuts, and the crowd went bezerk! It’s hard to believe that they had that much energy stored in them.

Fear of the Dark was performed Maiden perfect and led into the big moment of the night, Iron Maiden. By that point, the sing along was intense, and I was feeling the heat and the sweat and the tightness on the lawn. A sea of warm bodies wrapped together on a hot summer’s night is not the best condition to see a concert in. We pushed on though – and Maiden delivered.

Toward the end of the song Iron Maiden we were rewarded with a visit from Eddie. On this tour he was dressed as space creature Eddie and he did the usual walk across the stage, fight with Janick, and then walk back across the stage. There was a new edition, however. Eddie was handed a guitar that he actually played. That had to be the coolest moment in live Maiden history. Eddie played a guitar solo. I was floored.

The encore consisted of three more mega-hits: Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, and Running Free. All were excellent and all were fun. By the end of the night, I was exhausted, but happy. Iron Maiden had come in and kicked all of our asses with some fun, new classics, and old cherished songs. They were worth the price of the ticket.

The Wicker Man
Ghost of the Navigator
El Dorado
Dance of Death
The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
These Colours Don’t Run
Blood Brothers
Wildest Dreams
No More Lies
Brave New World
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Running Free

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