Wednesday, June 18th was a day I have been waiting for since 1992. I have been an Iron Maiden since purchasing the bands now legendary “Powerslave” album in 1985. Being that I was only 12 years old at the time, I was too young to see the band on this tour and after the release of the “Live After Death” album, I just knew that this was a band to be reckoned with.
The last time I saw the band was back in 1995 in Atlanta, GA with Blaze Bayley on the X-Factour. What a fucking drag. The band was performing with no energy, lackluster and with a singer who just obviously couldn’t cut it. I was so heartbroken that this was the way I would always remember the “last time” I saw Maiden. The last time I saw them with Bruce was on 1992’s Fear Of The Dark tour and it was absolutely insane and we were just floored by how fucking great they were. The audience, in fact, ripped up seats prompting Bruce to say, “Well, it looks like we just bought ourselves some fucking chairs!”. This is the way I chose to remember my last time seeing Maiden since this was the last time they ever came to my neck of the woods.
In 1999, I was so stoked to hear that not only Bruce Dickinson had returned to Iron Maiden but also the amazing Adrian Smith and alas, they never came my way meaning I never got to see them. Fast forward to about 2 years ago and I met my buddy James (and Heavy Metal Lunch co-host) who was also a huge Maiden fan. He was lucky though. He had seen them a few times since Bruce’s return since he was living in Texas at the time. Hanging with him really re-kindled my love for this band and it just made me want to see them so fucking bad.
In 2007, we heard that the band was re-issuing the “Live After Death” show on DVD and to top it all off, they were resurrecting the “World Slavery Tour” and playing nothing but classics. We vowed that we would go to the closest show to us and live what I have been dreaming about all these years. When the date for June 18th in Columbia Maryland was released, we got tickets and what happened after that was what I will refer to as the best show I have seen in all my 34 years of living.
The show opened with Steve Harris’ daughter Lauren Harris. She was an absolute waste. Her material was terrible and her band looked like a bunch of former 80’s cock rock has-beens turned Home Depot employees. All I could do was just pray that she would go away and go away REALLY fast!
The sounds of UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” filled the shed and just as it finished the house lights dropped to a ROAR that was so loud that it vibrated my head. The instrumental “Transylvania” accompanied an intro video showing Captain Dickinson as he flew our fave band all over delivering the goods on the first leg of the “Somewhere Back In Time” Tour. You could just feel the tension and energy in the place just anticipating that first song. As soon as the video ended “Churchill’s Speech” blasted over the PA and we all just lost our shit knowing what was next… “ACES HIGH” kicked and the band came out firing on all cylinders.
Following “Aces High”, in true old school fashion was “2 Minutes To Midnight” which had the audience just screaming the chorus along with Bruce. Following “2 Minutes” was one of my all time favorites, “Revelations” which just took me back to those days as a kid when I would listen to Maiden and just close my eyes as I just let the music take me away and I could vividly see all the imagery that they sang of in their songs.
Transylvania (Intro Video)
2 Minutes To Minutes
Number Of The Beast
Can I Play With Madness
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
Heaven Can Wait
Run To The Hills
Fear Of The Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
What I was so impressed with first and foremost was just how amazingly tight the band was. Bruce was all over the stage just full of energy and really working with the crowd. The audience was so into him and the people on the lawn were just singing and going nuts. So much so that Bruce even commented on how lame the folks up front were and that it seemed that the “true Maiden fans” were back on the grass going nuts! The band played with so much confidence and not only that but they were truly having a great time, smiling joking with each other and interacting with the audience.
The three guitar attack of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers really was something great to hear. Now in all honesty, I’ve never been a huge Janick fan but at least at this show, he really stepped it up and did some pretty great shit. Some of his stuff was a bit wanky but for the most part, he really kicked it. Seeing Dave & Adrian playing off of each other was such a magical thing that I never thought I’d get to see again but without a doubt, the MVP award goes to Dave Murray who played his ass off. The solo he took in “The Trooper” was just amazing and he held this one bending note for so long that the audience just started jumping up and down and egging him.
There were so many surprises and unexpected songs that this set list was just a powerhouse. There just seemed to be no room to breathe as they just stormed through these songs with all the energy of a young band playing fresh material. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” was a real highlight of the night. Coming out of the slow “poetry” section of the song, Bruce let out a scream that just had everyone going nuts and the band just slammed into the next section of the song complete with pyrotechnics that just ripped through the Maryland night. Bruce many times ordering “Scream For Me Baltimore” just had everyone going nuts. By the end of the song, it was hard to believe that they still had more to go. How were they gonna top that?
Try a set closing “Iron Maiden” that featured our beloved Eddie The ‘Ed wrapped in his mummy garb as he ascended over the drums as if he was surveying the insane audience as they just sang along with Bruce as he sang “Oh Well, Wherever, Where You Are… “. An encore then followed featuring not only one but TWO classics from the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album, “Moonchild” and “The Clairvoyant”. These were two songs that James and I REALLY wanted to hear and in true dork fashion, before the show made fantasy set lists and both of these songs were on our set lists. Talk about a treat.
Closing the night with the ever awesome “Number of the Best” track “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was a great, and very appropriate, way to close this amazing night of classic material. By the time “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” played over the PA, we were just wiped out. What we all witnessed that night was a band like none other. This is a band that gave it all this night. They worked us and we worked them. I really feel like I saw the greatest show I’ve yet to see this night. Even being a musician of a different genre, it really inspired me. It’s important to give an audience all you have plus some. Give them all of you and you will get all of it back.
Iron Maiden… the greatest band in the fucking world.