As the metal mainstays hit town, Getintothis‘ David Hall found out if they still have what it takes to get Liverpool headbanging.
It really doesn’t get much better than Iron Maiden. Still riding a high watermark this late on in their career – the 1990s notwithstanding – they welcome generation after generation of fans whose enthusiasm never seems to diminish. All this while touring hard, combatting ticket resale, and kicking cancer in the dick. Real stand-up guys.
Correct us if we’re wrong here metalheads, but by our reckoning, this is the first time Maiden have stopped off on Merseyside since they hit the Royal Court in 1990. How does their 2017 incarnation stack up? The Echo Arena was about to find out.
Before all that, support act Shinedown offered a saccharine, blustery post-grunge pill to swallow. They played posturing FM rock that would make Nickleback go “bit cynical isn’t it?”. Creed may have found their successors in Shinedown, but damn if they didn’t bring arena sized choruses and a spectacular level of cringing overearnestness.
Iron Maiden‘s sixteenth record The Book Of Souls meanwhile was their first double album. By no means a zippy listen then, but not a swinging lead weight of an album either, and the cherry-picked tracks in Liverpool felt lithe, despite their grandiosity. From that album If Eternity Should Fall set the scene, enlivened by Bruce Dickinson‘s gale force stage presence. The staging looked as spot on as ever, with giant Eddies, flaming pyros and cascades of dry ice, with Dickinson‘s Benny Hill antics and Janick Gers‘ lanky stage moves front and centre.
The piledriving riff of Death or Glory recalled the most brutal, driving guitar attacks of their heyday, whereas The Great Unknown and The Red and the Black felt a little more safely ensconced in their last three albums worth of material. The latter offered nothing that say The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg wouldn’t for example, although the Liverpool crowd were swept along in its cyclonic outro.
Of course for a band with over forty years of history, there were always going to be sticking points in the setlist. For all their greatest hits, Iron Maiden operate at their most interesting furrowing around the niches of their back catalogue. The many laudable aspects of their post-Dickinson reformation were largely ignored, with only their millenial Brave New World album nodded to by an anthemic rendition of Blood Brothers.
Wasted Years, from their glory years’ rare misstep of an album Somewhere In Time, felt more like a main set closer to tantalise further treats rather than a song with which to bring the curtain down. It’s from the same case, but not quite vintage Maiden.
But the classics poured out of the seasoned metallers nonetheless. Dickinson‘s voice is as powerfully air raid siren-esque and fearless as ever, only bailing on the ear splitting high note that concludes Children of the Damned. The ferocious, uncomplicated stomp of Wrathchild kicked the crowd into high gear after a steady start, and the band laid into obligatory cornerstones like Number of the Beast, The Trooper and Fear of the Dark.
Iron Maiden proved themselves just as vital as ever throughout, and we only hope we don’t have to wait a further 27 years to hear those immortal words again – “Scream for me, Liverpool!”.