Iron Maiden at the Toyota Center Rocks Like They Always Have

Iron Maiden at the Toyota Center Rocks Like They Always Have
Violeta Alvarez
Iron Maiden, Ghost
Toyota Center
June 21, 2017

Formula is not the enemy. Formula can work quite well if you know what you’re doing. Truth is, not every album has to be Sgt. Pepper. Just remember, for every Nickelback there is an AC/DC.

That’s all to say that an Iron Maiden show from 1987 isn’t really all that different from an Iron Maiden show from 2017. Sure, the technology is different and Bruce Dickinson dresses like he’s in an early-’00s nu-metal band, but if you’re looking for a show with a huge stage setup, a mascot that runs around and some ripping guitar solos, the Maiden you loved then is the Maiden you’ll still love now.

The reason to focus on formula here is to explain the difference between doing what you’re good at and being a nostalgia act, because even though the older songs got the bigger pops, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill “play the hits and call it a night” performance. Maiden played six tracks off their most recent album, The Book of Souls, all of which they took to with much of the same passion that they did with “Powerslave” and “Children of the Damned.” While “The Trooper” may have gotten the loudest response and it was “Fear of the Dark” that really got the crowd moving, the highlight of the night might have been “The Red and the Black,” with its massive “whoa-oh” section and some amazing guitar pyrotechnics.

click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
It’s hard to say that there’s a star in a show like this, especially with all the members having plenty of room to shine, but it must be specifically pointed out that at 58, Bruce Dickinson remains one of the most impressive singers in heavy metal. When the mix wasn’t too muddy, his voice sounded as good as anything he’s ever put down in the studio.

Iron Maiden show an amount of consistency in their live performances that you should wish on all bands you enjoy. In a world where heavy metal rarely packs arenas, it’s a shame that Iron Maiden isn’t the rule. They know who they are and what it is they do, and they are masters at that. I’ll take a winning formula over easy-to-digest nostalgia any day.

click to enlarge VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Violeta Alvarez
So, How Was the Opener?: Ghost are kind of silly but I thought they were excellent. Papa Emeritus has a goofy charm that works, and he’d make an excellent Pennywise if there were a Euro-centric version of It being made. The crowd was pretty much on board with the band from the beginning, because while they might not be the heaviest band, most people can appreciate some good melodies. They really are the perfect group to open this tour, given how chipper “The Number of the Beast” is at the start.

Personal Bias
: Dance of Death has the worst album cover of all time. “BBF3” is my favorite song related to Iron Maiden.

The Crowd
: You know the dumb rule about not wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see? Yeah, Iron Maiden fans know that rule is garbage.

Overheard in the Crowd
: One dude kept begging Bruce to stop talking anytime he said more than two sentences.

Random Notebook Dump
: So many bands would be improved by switching to a three-guitar player setup. So many bands would be improved by having a mascot.

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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia