The Best Tour of the Summer!
Iron Maiden - September 21st - Dos Equis Pavillion - Dallas, TX
Hard to imagine a more quintessentially Maiden show than the current Legacy of the Beast tour. Just a few songs in & Lead Vocalist Bruce Dickinson actually waged an onstage swordfight with nine-foot-tall Maiden mascot Eddie dressed as a British soldier. As they dueled, the group’s five other members burned through The Trooper, Maiden’s pulse-quickening 1983 ode to the exhilaration and peril of 19th-century warfare. The scene was pure multimedia spectacle, absurd yet undeniably awesome — in other words, Iron Fucking Maiden!
Focusing on the past for this run has allowed the band to stretch out, touching on deep cuts like Flight of Icarus, which prior to this tour hadn’t been played live since 1986. But the show’s central element is really the staging, a gloriously over-the-top production that starts out at full bore, with a huge World War II–era plane replica soaring over the stage during the Battle of Britain–themed Aces High, & never slows down during the two hours that follow. Thanks to Dickinson’s tireless physicality and the band’s constant crowd engagement, the scenery was alway full.
During The Number of the Beast, what looked like the entrance to hell itself, with a sinister mouth flanking the band and, later, a big, blow-up Eddie-as-Satan head illustrating that no band has ever gotten more mileage out of a mascot. What might seem on paper like a desperate attempt to hold on to a bygone standard of arena-scale dazzlement is an absolute blast to behold, thanks to a few interrelated factors. First, there’s the band’s unmistakable joy in performance. Dickinson remains his genre’s most charismatic, fun-to-watch frontman — the closest thing heavy metal has to an ageless Mick Jagger figure. From the second he bounds onstage to the moment he exits, the 60-year-old is a combination of diva, athlete, actor, and ham, inhabiting the songs’ high drama with a still-formidable rock-operatic belt — almost more poignant now because you can hear a hint of strain as he reaches into his upper register — and swashbuckling, Errol Flynn-like vigor, as though the stage were the set of his own personal action film.
The other element of the live Maiden equation is of course the fans. They remain a massive & exuberant tribe that the singer expressed mock-amazement that so many people had turned out for a Maiden show in 2019: “Heavy metal? Still alive in the 21st Century?! Someone alert the media.” He paused, and then revised his statement. “Actually, fuck the media. … We don’t need the media; all we need is you.”
If the action on the stage and the enthusiasm in the crowd were the fire, the songs were the spark. With each passing year, Maiden’s music seems to stand further apart from the prevailing currents of heavy metal. That sense of the archaic also pervades & after all the jumbo props, the set changes, the plumes of pyro, what else was there to do? During the Run to the Hills finale, a big red box labeled “TNT” appeared on the riser above McBrain’s drums. The song ended, and Dickinson jammed down the plunger that was attached, setting off a mini fireworks shower. It was fittingly bombastic ending to a show that felt like the pinnacle of heavy-metal escapism, slapstick and sincerity in perfect yin-yang alignment. The standard rock narrative tells us that this kind of thing died off decades ago, as the excessive Eighties gave way to the tortured Nineties; the Legacy of the Beast tour would beg to differ.
Where Eagles Dare
2 Minutes to Midnight
For the Greater Good of God
The Wicker Man
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
The Number of the Beast
The Evil That Men Do
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Run to the Hills
Speaking of burning through the Trooper, we did just that prior to the show as Maiden keyboardist & stage manager Michael Kinney invited us via an introduction from Jerry (King's X) to discuss he & other members of the band appearing in our upcoming King's X film project. The hospitality we were shown was second to none & unlike any of the thankfully countless backstage adventures I've had over the years. My old buddy & former Sony Records Executive Erv & I at Will Call were greeted with a detailed message in my envelope of how to make it backstage and were the hospitality room was located. Once there, we were greeted by literally a wall of the band's own signature British Ale - The Trooper. A great scene unfolded as suddenly we were in conversation with Brian Slagel (Metal Blade Records) King Diamond and Maiden drummer Nicko Mcbrain. Good times, great show & gentleman thanks so you much for the hospitality and I look forward to seeing you all again soon. Cheers!