If you were just a casual Iron Maiden fan, Friday night's gig out at the shed in the Woodlands would have confounded and maybe even angered you. If you own the band's entire catalog on tape, vinyl, and disc, and maybe had their ghoulish mascot Eddie airbrushed on your wedding cake, then you were in heaven for nearly two hours as the band fired off album tracks and obscure fan favorites.
That means that we didn't hear "2 Minutes To Midnight" or "Run To The Hills", or even "The Trooper". If you are a Maiden veteran, maybe you don't need to hear those VH1 Classic staples yet again. It was a show for true Maiden fans, that crazy breed of power-metal devotees who breathe every howl from lead singer Bruce Dickinson and would snort every sweaty drum crack from Nicko McBrain like it was pure Colombian dust. It very much separated the Maiden men from the maiden boys.
Judging by the constant screams and hollers from the nearly sold-out crowd, they were just fine with anything that the band would splay out for them. That's incredibly reassuring and a testament to the longevity of the band, which is now in its 35th year making ears bleed. They stopped scaring parents long ago, and we aren't sure but we may have seen three generations of Maiden heads upping the Irons on Friday night. But that may have been someone's really weathered uncle, you never know.
Dickinson is a force of energy onstage, his knit cap and baggy camo pants notwithstanding. We remember watching a metal documentary of few years back, wherein Dickinson remarked that from the beginning of his career, even with his first club bands, he sought to make every gesture onstage grand and epic. Everyone from the swells in the first row to the heshers in the nosebleeds would get a show. Even the folks at the top of the hill doing hill hoodrat stuff would have fully grasped what he was laying down.
On our side of the stage, we got guitarist Janick Gers doing splits onto the amps during most every song, from "The Wicker Man" to ender "Running Free" we got full exposure to his goods for two hours. Somewhere down in the pit was a very happy groupie or fanboy snapping away pic after pic.
The one song they reeled of from their upcoming album, The Final Frontier, was solid and extremely muscular for a band this far along. Frontier will be the band's 15th album, and could easily make its way into the band's top-tier canon. "El Dorado" is loud and abrasive, and serves as a helpful hint as to where the rest of Frontier is headed.
Eddie made his entrance in the last three songs of the first part of the show before the encore, done up like a green and bloodied ghoul. Seeing him come out humbled the metal head inside us, instantly made us apart of a proud lineage. That may sound foreign to the non-metal fans out there, but it's true.
He may be just a guy in a suit and stilts, but he embodies misspent youth and fandom for us. Plus, we wish we could grow three new arms and get them tatted up with as many Eddie motifs as possible. Simple man, simple pleasures we guess.
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The band's last three songs, "Number Of The Beast", "Hallowed By Thy Name", and "Running Free" made up for any lack of "hits" in the main set, and left everyone fat, happy, with buzzy ears. It could've been worse, they could have played only material from the Blaze Bayley-era, ya know?
For more photos from the show, check out our slideshow.
The Wicker Man Ghost Of The Navigator Wrathchild 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 Encore: The Number of the Beast Hallowed Be Thy Name Running Free