After nearly two months on the road with 34 shows, Iron Maiden completed their North American leg of the Maiden England tour on August 18th in Houston, TX. During this time, the band covered much of the US and Canada with their mind-boggling stage show somewhat recreated around the band’s “7th Tour of a 7th Tour” which originally took place almost 25 years ago. The stage was set up with the icy landscape seen on the album cover as well as the 1988 stage set-up, with a slightly more updated look. Completing the stage artwork, along with the numerous banners for each song, were the various incarnations of Maiden mascot Eddie in numerous icy poses. This particular show was my fourth live Maiden experience, and the band has yet to disappoint their audiences. Just like they always do, they pulled out all of the stops with superb lighting, hellacious pyro, and of course Eddie. It was also nice to witness this live show with my own two eyes, seeing as one of the VHS cassettes I used to view repeatedly as a young Maiden fan in the mid-1990s was the Maiden England home video, recorded in 1988 during the band’s show in Birmingham, England.
After navigating my way through Houston traffic and arriving at the venue, I was thankful to miss the show’s support act, Coheed and Cambria, who I refuse to give any further mention to. Concerts have always, and will always, attract a diverse mixture of fans, and Maiden shows are no different. The one stand-out feature that I tend to notice more and more these days is the appearance of the way younger Maiden fans, most likely present with their parents. While many conservatives might scoff at the notion of an Iron Maiden show being used as a family bonding tool, it is just that. Whole families can be seen rocking out in unison with the parents and children alike having a blast. After finding my seat, with a beer in hand, my concert companion and I rocked out the stream of classic rock tunes airing over the venue’s PA. Eventually, my ears were graced with the sounds of UFO’s “Doctor, Doctor” which can only lead my mind to one simple conclusion: Iron Maiden are within minutes of hitting the stage.
As the house lights are dimmed and the video screens light up with Arctic images, the opening lines of “Moonchild” immediately fill the venue as the anticipation of the crowd reaches its height. Following the crooning of vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s introductory verse, the stage lights up and explodes with the mighty musical force that is Iron Maiden. With each band member knee deep in their 50s, its excellent to see that this band is still at the top of their game, which is basically where they’ve always been. Their energy level NEVER subsides and they still run out and fire up the crowd as if they were still in their 20s.
As previously mentioned, this tour is somewhat of a throw-back to the ‘7th Tour of a 7th Tour,’ with the band playing a large chunk of that album (5 of the albums 8 songs). Other classic Maiden gems were also thrown into the mix, such as “Phantom of the Opera” and “The Prisoner,” along with all-time fan favorites such as “The Trooper” and “Number of the Beast.” The two stand-out tracks of the night were the two that appeared off of their “Fear of the Dark” album, the title track along with “Afraid to Shoot Strangers.” While some might scratch their heads in wonder at the inclusion of these two songs on a tour of this design, you wouldn’t have to remember that “Fear of the Dark” is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
As the final notes of the band’s signature song still resonate in the ears of the crowd, the sounds of WWII bombers fills the venue, closely followed by Winston Churchill’s famous speech given during England’s entrance in WWII. And as every fan in attendance at a few Maiden shows can confirm, the words of that speech can practically be recited by every fan, strictly from memory. Following Churchill’s sharp “We shall never surrender!” the opening lines of “Aces High” blast out of the PA, sending chills across my skin, as I witness this magnificent intro for the second time in my life. Closing out the night were two of my personal all-time favorites, “The Evil That Men Do” and “Running Free.”
As Iron Maiden’s final show of their 2012 North American jaunt winds down, I just can’t help but grin from ear to ear like I did when I was 12 and rocked out to “Killers” for the first time. Seeing this band live is always a great time. You will always be able to count on Iron Maiden for a killer show that not only blows you away and fills you with joy, it leaves you wanting more. After witnessing the band’s high energy on this night, I can only hope and pray that the band continues to journey across the globe in an effort to bring their tunes to fans that absolutely do not want this band to retire.
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